Title: In Our Duffel Bags, Surviving the Vietnam Era
Author: Richard C. Geschke & Robert A. Toto
Genre: Non-Fiction Military/Army
Reviewer: Ron Camarda
ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 146202355X
DECEMBER 28, 2011 - First Lieutenant Richard C. Geschke and Lieutenant Robert A. Toto co-authored a book sparking emotions and revealing buried memories of the Vietnam War within the book titled In Our Duffel Bags, just published by iUniverse.
Both men are longtime service buddies as well as friends and it is through
this book they share the sometimes harrowing events encountered during their service in the “War with no purpose; no mission statement.” This
narrative book uniquely conveys each man’s first hand experiences as
soldiers serving in the US Army during the Vietnam War era and their
transition to civilian life afterwards.
“I did not realize that I had PTSD, until I started to cry while I was out
walking near my home” said Robert Toto during a recent interview. “This
book became part of my therapy.” As for Richard Geschke, his memories came about differently as he said, “It wasn’t until I had a vivid dream of
reality about a trip down the Hai Van Pass which occurred forty years ago
that the thoughts of not only Vietnam but of my entire army experience came to my foremost thoughts. I immediately put them on paper, starting with the chapter titled “Going My Way” and followed by the chapter titled “Was That Forty-One or Forty-two Rockets?”
Both men entered the military through the ROTC program which put them in as an officer once completing college. “During our day there were protests,
draft card burnings and a very lively debate about the merits of the war.
Today, because we have an all volunteer army, the regular population is more or less mute on the war. Current debates about the wars are timid in
comparison to the Vietnam era,” said Richard Geschke.
Aside from the political unrest our country was going through, these men each had their battles with society dealing with the stigma of serving the country in a war which was shunned by their peers. For Robert Toto, “It was
difficult being in grad school once I was discharged. The undergraduate
students really had no clue of what military life was.” Richard Geschke
commented, “Vietnam was a different era altogether, with the protests and
the divisive politics of the times.” He summarized, “I didn’t make military policy, and all I did was to serve my country in an honorable way!”
The stories within In Our Duffel Bags are written in a down to earth manner
using language that makes it easy to relate to the storytellers. This is the
type of book that can be a captivating read for those wanting to indulge in
the mindsets of young men forced into becoming soldiers during a war in which no one wanted to fight.