Title: Our War: The History and Sacrifices of an Infantry Battalion in the Vietnam War 1968-1971
Author: David W. Taylor
Reviewer: Louis Intres
ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0983268304
"Our War" is the only Vietnam War history that covers an infantry battalion during its entire time in combat (3 years, 3 months) and written in a narrative form (absent report excerpts, charts and graphs). The author served as a infantry platoon leader in the battalion in 1969 and retired as a Colonel, Special Forces (USAR-Ret) in 1993. The battalion, 5th/46th Infantry, 198th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division, is the same battalion famed Vietnam War author Tim O'Brien served in. The author copied over 23,000 pages of the battalions Daily Staff Journals at the National Archives and interviewed over 100 battalion vets, from battalion commanders to privates, to write the book in 8 years.
In many respects the book is a microcosm of the Vietnam War itself. The battalion fought in every type of terrain known to soldiers: coastal & marshy plains, the rolling hills and dense foliage of the Piedmont and triple canopy jungle in the Annamite Mountains. It fought against NVA regulars and Vietcong Main Force and Local Force battalions. It also operated in the most heavily mined areas of the Vietnam War including the dreaded Batangan Pennisula and the My Lai hamlets.
The missions the battalion pursued began with battalion-sized "Search and Destroy" (body counts) to "Search and Clear", "Denial", "Pacification" and "Accelerated Pacification". By late 1970 common operations were carried out by squad-size patrols operating out of platoon-size patrol bases. the soldiers attitudes had switched from "fighting to win" to "not being the last man to die in Vietnam".
The battalion fought with other units such as the US Marines, South Vietnamese Army (ARVN), Popular Force (PF) and Regional Force (RF) Militia. Their performance is also recounted as it pertained to the battalions operations as the American forces tried to "stand down" while the Vietnamese were to "stand up".
Each battalions soldier who is killed in combat is mentioned as to how he died. The reader will view the war as seen at the battalion level with their missions and the threats they faced, down to the individual soldier "in the grass" who only knew what was in front of him. "Our War" offers a rare look into what it was truly like for an infantry battalion to fight and persevere in the Vietnam war, in the midst of constant change of commanders, lack of experienced personnel, many acts of selfless bravery and a growing antipathy for a war that was not going to be won by American forces.