MWSA Interview with Tim Trainer


MWSA: Will you give us a short biography and please send us your photo?

TT: My early years were nomadic living in Japan and the U.S. on various army posts and civilian communities as an army brat, the son of a career soldier. I too served in the army (1972-75). Taking advantage of my education benefits, I obtained multiple degrees including studying in Japan in the late 1970s. I am an attorney and have lived in the Washington DC area for the past 30 years. I’ve worked in federal government agencies, a law firm, and a trade association. My work has allowed me to represent the U.S. at international organizations and to participate in government-to-government negotiations. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to approximately 60 countries.

MWSA: Why did you become an author in the first place?

TT: My legal work requires a lot of reading and writing. It provided the fuel to want to write for publication. I had the opportunity to write and publish a number of articles and books related to work. Legal and work related writing and publishing, however, was not fulfilling my desire to write more creatively or to write about other things. Generally. I like the personal challenge of writing.

MWSA: When and why did you join MWSA?

TT: I joined MWSA in 2013. I was not aware of the organization, but it was brought to my attention by a Vietnam veteran who was a member and was or had been reviewing books for

MWSA. After visiting the website and getting information from my veteran friend, it just seemed like a natural thing to do. MWSA: Why did you choose to work in this genre?

TT: I don’t know that I have a “genre” and I can admit that I was not thinking in terms of a genre as I worked on this latest project. My book, The Fortunate Son, which is in the memoir category is, in my view,not a true memoir as many might think. I tried to give voice to the 14 veterans who provided me with their recollections and along the way. I added my own experience from that period. Essentially, the reader learns something about these veterans and me, the army brat.

MWSA: Will you briefly list your other books for us?

TT: In 2013, I self-published a political intrigue novel entitled Pendulum Over the Pacific that takes the reader to both Washington DC and Tokyo. In 2015, a major publisher of legal books published my book, Potato Chips to Computer Chips: The War on Fake Stuff. I’ve co-authored a treatise for the past 12 years, Customs Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (Thomson Reuters).

MWSA: Tell us a little bit about your latest book.

TT: The Fortunate Son: Top Through the Eyes of Others is about 14 Vietnam veterans who were very young men at that time. Eventually, they end up serving with my father, the oldest man in their company and a seasoned combat veteran. The book relates the journey of these young men into the army and their unfortunate plight going to Vietnam, assigned to an infantry company and needing the kind of leadership that will help them believe that they will survive their tour of duty.

MWSA: What made you interested in writing a book on this particular topic?

TT: The book was not my idea. Several of the veterans who served with my father started prodding me to write a book about my father a number of years ago, but I kept refusing to do it. There were reasons for my reluctance: I didn’t have the content. I didn’t want to pry into the lives of these men. I knew my father disliked being publicly recognized and my resistance to taking myself back to that period of time. But, ultimately, I accepted the fact that there were a number of these guys who wanted to acknowledge the importance of my father in their lives and were willing to tell me things about their time in the army and in Vietnam. And the one other thing I realized is that I want my younger siblings, nephews, and nieces to read about their father, grandfather, and great grandfather from the perspective of these men—it’s a gift.

MWSA: What makes this particular book special to you?

TT: The book is special in several ways. The fact that 15 men, including Barry McCaffrey who wrote the Foreword, trusted me with the things they related to me, the things they shared with me. It is special because, to some extent, I was permitted to be their way of communicating to their own families about perhaps the worst times in their lives. It’s humbling to know that I was able to do that for them. And, of course, for them to tell me things about my father that I would not otherwise know. They wanted me to know how important it was to them that he was there helping them through those trying times. The Fortunate Son recounts the parallel lives of an army brat and a group of Vietnam veterans who intersect decades after the war. The veterans open up to me, the army brat, perhaps in a way they never have with their own families. Why? Through my father, Top, their First Sergeant, we have a common link. Over the years, we’ve gotten to know each other. They begin to understand the sacrifices of an army family. But, more importantly, they want me to understand how our family’s sacrifice and my father’s tour of duty in Vietnam with them, in the jungles, gave them confidence to believe they would make it home alive. Fortunate Son is not about a single battle or a single soldier’s tour of duty. You will meet us, learn something about us, and get a glimpse of our lives during the war years. You’ll find out why half a century after that tour of duty ended, we remain bound together. If you’ve ever been in the military or part of a military family, you’ll know that we all are bound together. For those who find the military to be foreign and unknown, our story may help you to understand why it binds so many together. Fourteen of these soldiers have shared their stories. Their stories describe two life transitions—first from civilian teenagers or young men to combat grunts trying to stay alive in the jungle—and then back to stateside life. What happens between these transitions, as they slog through the jungle day-by-day paints their portrait of Top, my father. Now, I appreciate why they remain bound together half a century after their tour ended. Their stories are an unexpected gift that bestows new insight to me on my father. So, as you read and “listen” to these soldiers’ stories, both what they say and how they describe Top, you understand why I’ve learned that I am The Fortunate Son

[Copied from the Fall 2017 issue of MWSA Dispatches magazine]