My Last War: A Vietnam Veteran's Tour in Iraq
Author: Charles M. Grist
Publisher: iUniverse.com (2009)
Binding: Hardcover, 308 pages
Central Florida police officer Charles M. Grist is one of the few Vietnam veterans to have served as an enlisted soldier in the Iraq war. In 2004, he volunteered to be the sergeant-in-charge of the Protective Service Detail for an Army Reserve general in Baghdad.
Grist and his unit, the C.O.B.R.A. Team, were based inside Baghdad's Green Zone, but their travels with the general led them along the deadly roads of Baghdad, to the throne of Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon, and through the picturesque hills of Kurdistan. It was a fast-paced life of high adventure, filled with convoys, mortar or rocket attacks, and the constant threats of ambushes or improvised explosive devices.
As a Vietnam veteran, Grist knew that Operation Iraqi Freedom would be his last war. He used his daily journal to record his team's wartime experiences, to document the events that shaped Iraq in 2004, and to preserve the heroic deeds of some of the Army Reserve and National Guard warrior-citizens with whom he served. That journal became the basis for this book.
MWSA 2010 Gold Medal for Non-Fiction, Memoir
MWSA April 2010 Book of the Month
Charles M. Grist has written the story of a young man who served first as an officer in Vietnam, a career public servant (police officer), and last as a non-commissioned officer in Iraq. His life has been dedicated to serving his country but his words are humble and appreciative. Grist writes about his C.O.B.R.A. team in Iraq, formed and trained to protect a general officer he learned to respect tremendously. His mission was to protect the general and keep his team safe; he did both. He loved his team like extended family. Grist pays homage to the greatest hero in his life as well--his wife. Grist tells a story with the experience and wisdom of an American soldier and servant to a country he loves--and it is his own. His "last war" is contrasted with memories that linger from his first experience with war. I highly recommend this book for the intellectually mature reader.
Reviewed by: Mike Mullins (2010)