Non-Fiction

My Last War: A Vietnam Veteran's Tour in Iraq

Title: My Last War: A Vietnam Veteran's Tour in Iraq
Author: Charles M. Grist
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Reviewer: Mike Mullins

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1440152705

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.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Grist, Charles M.

Missions of Fire and Mercy: Until Death Do Us Part

Title: Missions of Fire and Mercy: Until Death Do Us Part
Author: William E. Peterson
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Reviewer: Joyce Faulkner

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1450509770

Memoir of my Vietnam tour with C/227th AHB, 1st Air Cavalry in 67-68 as a Huey crew chief/door gunner. This book relates both missions of fire and missions of mercy. This will put the reader in the crew chief seat and take him/her on the ride of their life that they can't possibly experience anywhere else. "White Robe Six" (the aircrew's call sign for God), is given praise often as He protects the flight crews from almost certain death. The subject of PTSD is touched on and highly recommends that Vets seek the free help that is out there. The purpose of Missions Of Fire And Mercy is not only to reach Vets and assure them that they need not have the guilt complex that many have. In addition, it teaches the loved ones of the Vet what they not only experienced, but what they are still haunted with in so many cases.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Peterson, William E.

Roadside Bombs and Democracy: An American Police Officer in Iraq

Title: Roadside Bombs and Democracy: An American Police Officer in Iraq
Author: William Little
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Reviewer: Joyce Faulkner

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1606048260

This book is a narrative of my personal experiences working overseas as an International Police Advisor in Kosovo with the U.N. and in Iraq.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Little, William

NAM SENSE: Surviving Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division

Title: NAM SENSE: Surviving Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division
Author: Arthur Wiknik
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Reviewer: Bob Doerr

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1935149091

Nam Sense is the story of a combat squad leader in the 101st Airborne Division in the thick of combat during the Vietnam War. The author was a 19-year-old kid from New England when he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1968. After completing various NCO training programs, he was promoted to sergeant "without ever setting foot in a combat zone" and sent overseas in early 1969. Shortly after his arrival on the far side of the world he was assigned to Camp Evans, the 101st Airborne's northern most base camp only thirty miles from Laos and North Vietnam. On his first jungle patrol, his squad killed a female Viet Cong who turned out to have been the local prostitute. It was the first dead person he had ever seen.

Arthur Wiknik's account of life and death in Vietnam includes everything from skirmishes with the Viet Cong and combat with NVA regulars to base camp hijinks, including faking insanity to get some R&R. The 101st Airborne was one of the last U.S. outfits to launch full-blooded offensives in Vietnam, and its assault on the NVA stronghold in the A Shau Valley has since become the stuff of legend. Wiknik was the first man in his unit to reach the top of "Hamburger Hill" during this famous operation, the last one in which Americans attacked rather than defended in order to reduce their casualties. Later, the author discovered an enemy weapons cache, thus preventing an attack on his advance fire support base. Between episodes of combat he mingled with the locals, tricked unwitting stateside food companies into providing his platoon a year's worth of hard to get edibles and after defying a superior officer was punished with a dangerous mission. All this time, he struggled with himself and his fellow soldiers as the anti-war movement back home began to affect their ability to wage victorious war.

Nam Sense unveils the battlefields of Vietnam with a unique blend of candor, irony, and humor--and it spares nothing and no one in its attempt to accurately convey the true experience of the combat soldier during this unpopular war. This work does not fixate on heroism or glory, haunting flashbacks, or soldiers wallowing in self-pity. It instead portrays ordinary young Americans thrown into strange yet brutally violent circumstances, while only seeking to uphold the honor of their comrades and country. The GIs Wiknik lived and fought with during his year-long tour did not rape, murder, or burn villages, were not strung out on drugs, and did not enjoy killing. They were simply there to do their duty as they were trained, and to try to get home alive.

"The soldiers I knew," explains the author, "demonstrated courage, principle, kindness, and friendship--all the elements found in other wars Americans have proudly fought in."

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Wiknik, Arthur

New Dawn: The Battles for Fallujah

Title: New Dawn: The Battles for Fallujah
Author: Richard S. Lowry
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Reviewer: Joyce Faulkner

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1932714774

New Dawn is the story of the kids who grew up down the block and then flew halfway around the world to fight in the battle that changed the war in Iraq. Richard S. Lowry places you among the brave men and women who fought a determined enemy at the crossroads of civilization. This is the tale of their courage, sacrifice and valor.

Richard tells the stories of the men and women who fought to clear Fallujah, Iraq's most violent city. This is no ordinary historical account. Richard provides gripping narratives of individual sacrifice and valor while documenting the battle for military historians. He weaves a page-turning story that will educate and entertain in a style reminiscent of Cornelius Ryan's Longest Day.

New Dawn opens with the brutal murder, bludgeoning and burning of four Blackwater security contractors, followed by the aborted first assault and tense standoff during the spring and summer of 2004. Then, New Dawn tells the complete story of the massive final attack as seen through the eyes of those who were there.

Walk down the narrow city streets and into the courtyards, kitchens and bedrooms of Fallujah. Venture into the unknown as young soldiers and Marines kick in door after door, never knowing if they will be greeted by an incensed insurgent or a cowering Iraqi family. This is a story of young Americans at war.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Lowry, Richard

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