The First Casualty by Karl Orndorff

Karl Orndorff grew up in a household with an alcoholic and abusive father. He joined the Marine Corps as soon as he could—at age seventeen while he was still in high school in 1966—to escape the tumultuous situation at home. He also felt it was the patriotic thing to do.

“In the back of my mind dwelled a sense of patriotic duty. I owed it to my country to stop the spread of Communism,” Orndorff writes in The First Casualty: A Vietnam Memoir (CreateSpace, 392 pp., $14.95, paper), a thoughtful, well-written autobiography that concentrates on the author’s unique three tours (two-and-a-half years) in the war zone.

Unlike many Marine Corps enlistees, Orndorff had few problems with boot camp at Parris Island. It “was not the terrifying experience for me that it was for many of my fellow platoon members,” he writes. “The thirteen weeks of physical and mental training was a challenge and in some peculiar way, a pleasure for me. I was physically fit and mentally toughened when I arrived. The typical drill instructor’s demeanor pretty much mirrored the parenting style I had just escaped.”

After basic, he had more training at Camp Lejeune, then Bulk Fuel School at Camp Pendleton. Orndorff then volunteered to go to Vietnam, and arrived in country in the summer of 1967 at age eighteen. He wound up serving three tours of duty with the same unit: the Force Logistics Command’s 7th Separate Bulk Fuel Company in Da Nang, Hoi An, and An Hoa, among other places.

Part of the time Orndorff and another Marine were the only Americans serving with the South Korean Tiger Division. After getting that assignment, he notes, “we would no longer serve on night patrols, guard post duty, and mine-sweeping duty. In addition, we had no one whatsoever to report directly to at our base. The opportunity for us to survive the war unscathed had just increased exponentially.”

The author at a book signing

It was a “support job,” Orndorff says. But “being constantly in the cross hairs of a rocketeer’s sights, and surrounded by explosive fuel constituted an extremely hazardous occupation.” The job “was not seen by my peers in most other military occupations as a desirable line of work.”

Orndorff volunteered for a fourth tour, but the Marines turned him down and he left Vietnam physically unscathed. After he left the Marines, Orndorff went back to Pennsylvania, married, and had a long career as an industry designer. He devotes a chapter in the book to his return trip to Vietnam in 2006, where he was welcomed “with open arms” by the Vietnamese people he encountered.

Today, Orndorff says he is “a warrior” who  “harbor[s] antiwar beliefs.” Should a war “like WWII ever occur again,” he writes, “where it was absolutely necessary to defend my country, I would be the first in line. Should a war like the one in Vietnam occur again I (and my children?) would be living in Canada—not because I was a coward. I had unequivocally proven that I was not.”

—Marc Leepson

Harbor Knight by Ralph A. Garcia

VVA member Ralph Garcia–the founder of Chapter 698 in Bluffton, Indiana—enlisted in the Marine Corps on his seventeenth birthday in November of 1959. He had a variety of assignments around the world, then volunteered for Vietnam in the summer of 1968.

Garcia, who grew up in gritty East Chicago, Indiana, served in Phu Bai with Company L of the Marine Support Battalion, a “pseudonym for being in the Intel unit,” Garcia writes in his memoir Harbor Knight: From Harbor Hoodlum to Honored CIA Agent (iUniverse, 254 pp., $29.95, hardcover; $19.95, paperback).

Garcia “wasn’t like the regular infantryman who was out in the field,” he writes. “I had a gun, but I only used it a couple of times. I was armed with unique skills, for the purpose of collection operations in Vietnam. We used a variety of methods to find out what we could about the North Vietnamese Army” and the Viet Cong.

Ralph Garcia

Garcia left the Marines Corps after his Vietnam War tour in the spring of 1969, worked in a steel mill back home in Indiana, and then joined the CIA as an intelligence officer. Before retiring and becoming a veterans advocate and an active supporter of the Boys and Girls Club, he also served as a Drug Enforcement Administration special agent.

His book, Garcia writes, “is my naive way of recording my personal memoirs. It is written with the help of a fading memory and lack of literary skill.” The book’s “primary purpose,” he says, “is to inform my family about my life,” but “is also written for those who may be interested in reading about an unusual life.”

The book, Garcia also notes, was reviewed by the CIA, as well as the State Department, the DEA, the Pentagon, and the National Security Agency. And, in fact, more than a few words and sentences are blacked out  throughout the book.

“Ralph Garcia’s story is the history of America in the last half of the twentieth century,” Vietnam Veterans of America national President John Rowan has written. “He persevered and rose to heights that I am sure even he never envisioned for himself when he was young. His military service is exemplary, but it is his work after the Marines that lifted him to new heights. He should be particularly commended for his work with children from poor backgrounds like his.”

—Marc Leepson

Proud to Be, edited by Susan Swartwout

Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, Vol. 2  (Southeast Missouri State University Press, 320 pp., $15, paper) is the second volume of essays, short stories, interviews, poems and photographs by veterans, active-duty military personnel, and their families edited by Susan Swartwout. As with the first volume, which was published in 2013, this book is a co-production of the SE Missouri State University Press, the Missouri Humanities Council, and the Warriors Arts Alliance.

I was a reference librarian for more than thirty years, and I view this anthology as a reference book that is very hard to use. I expended a lot of time trying to figure out the organization of this book, but I failed to find one. The book seems random to me: an interesting jumble of writing about several of America’s wars: World War II, the Vietnam War, and our wars in the Middle East, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Some authors are represented by more than one piece, but are not grouped together. The book has no index to enable a curious reader to locate stories by a particular author, or pieces dealing with a particular war. To find all the entries dealing with the Vietnam War, my area of focus, I had to read the entire book, page by page. That was instructive, but very time consuming. 

There are several of those new-fangled stories that are well written and engrossing and emotionally involving and then quit right before the main conflict is resolved so the reader never knows what happened and remains forever annoyed at being left hanging.  A superb example is “Acts of Contribution” by Kathleen Toomey. I was not surprised when I read her biography and discovered that she has been published  “in a number of literary journals.”  

On the other hand, there are several stories of the classic sort, such as “Escort” by Jarrod L. Taylor. His is the best in the book—everything a reader hopes for in a fine story. I’d love to read an entire book by Taylor. He knows how to say a lot with a few words and to fully enable the reader to visualize scenes. 

“The Colonel’s Brain” by William Childress is another story that is worth the price of the anthology.  “Making Jello” by Marcia Upchurch is a short story that packs a wallop—a must-read story.

I read John Mort’s story, “Pitchblend,” first, as I am a big fan of his work. I was not disappointed. I found a lot to identify with in that story.  

There is poetry in the book, too. It’s hit and miss, but I loved the poem by Fred Rosenblum so much that I immediately ordered two copies of his book, Hollow Tin Jingles. It is a great-looking volume, and I am sure I will love it. It is a limited printing, so order your copies fast before they are gone.  

There are also many photographs in this anthology, and I am sure they are fine ones, but the reproduction is so bad that it is impossible to tell. Nevertheless, I highly recommend purchasing this large book that is chock full of great stuff to read. There is enough good stuff that you can skip over the dull, offensive, or just-plain-crazy material.  

I wish I’d skipped over the rant that suggests that Jane Fonda was a traitor who should be put in a tiger cage and tortured. Jane Fonda was the most popular pinup in Vietnam in 1968-69 due to her poster from Barbarella. Read “Hanoi Jane” for a full explication of why some Vietnam veterans vilify Jane Fonda, but don’t have a single bad word for LBJ, Nixon, McNamara, or Westmoreland, the people responsible for the war and millions of war casualties. 

—David Willson

Family, Faith, Land and Mysticism by Robert Osenenko

Robert Osenenko’s Family, Faith, Land and Mysticism: The Spiritual Traveler Myth (Outskirts Press, 232 pp., $27.95, hardcover; $13.95, paper) deals with his hometown of Toms River, New Jersey, and its Pinelands Reserve. The book also contains details about his family members and his service in the Vietnam War.

Osenenko joined the U.S. Army in 1967, and had Basic Training at Fort Jackson and Quartermaster AIT at Fort Lee in Virginia. His next assignment was a brief one at the Army Radar and Air Defense Command at Travis Air Force Base in California. He went on to serve a June 1968-July 1969 tour of duty in Vietnam with Company A of the 2/27th Infantry (the Wolfhounds) of the 25th Infantry Division.

“Grandma Anna said openly, ‘Vietnam changed you,’” Osenenko writes, describing his homecoming. “No doubt it had, and I was not foolish enough to deny it. It certainly made me think deeper, and count the consequences for my behavior. Secondly, I came out with no bitterness toward the army, the country, people, or myself.”

The author’s website is http://dragonflyandthepinesnake.com/orders.html

—Marc Leepson

The Boys Next Door by R.L. Tecklenburg

“The good memories I have of Vietnam are of the people I met and befriended, most of whom were children,” R.L.Tecklenburg writes in The Boys Next Door: A Marine Returns to Vietnam (St. Johann Press, 134 pp., $24.95, paper). “Their fate haunted me for more than thirty-five years. Did the war take them? Could I have done more to save them?” The answers to those questions “eluded me until I returned in 2003 and again in 2004.”

In this short, readable book Tecklenburg juxtaposes a recounting of his time in Vietnam during the war with details of the first return trip he made to the small farming villages of Thua Luu and Nouc Ngot. He had served a 1968-69 tour there as an infantryman with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Marine Regiment attached to the First Marine Division, and then as part of the 3rd Combined Action Group in Phu Loc working with elements of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division.

Bob Tecklenburg

His time in Vietnam was never far from his thoughts after coming home, Tecklenburg, who runs the Alexandria, Virginia, Vet Center, says. “Not a day passed,” he writes, “that I didn’t think about the people I had left behind. For me, it was about commitments and relationships I had established among the Vietnamese, then abruptly abandoned when my tour of duty was up on August 4, 1969.”

Tecklenburg arrived in Hanoi in March 2003 and then embarked on an eleven-day trip with a group of other Vietnam veterans. He was able to find two people he worked with in the villages during the war. He learned that they and many other villagers “had had a difficult time” since 1975. “They were struggling to make it in the new Vietnam, but they were succeeding. Theirs was a young country, and they had not been excluded from its rewards.”

He “had to remember,” Tecklenburg writes, “that I was a part of their past—and they a part of mine. We shared memories of a time when our destinies crossed, but our lives since the war have moved in much different directions. I decided I would help them in any way I could to achieve a better future for their children.”

The author’s website is www.rltecklenburg.com

—Marc Leepson

Russ & Daughters by Mark Russ Federman

Mark Russ Federman’s maternal grandfather Joel Russ opened Russ’s Cut Rate Appetizing store on the Lower East Side of New York a hundred years ago. Russ, who came this country at age twenty-one in 1907 from Poland, soon turned the Jewish delicatessen over to this three daughters, and the rest is New York deli history: Russ & Daughters today is still on the Lower East Side, is still billed as “appetizing” store, and still specializes in delicacies such as smoked salmon (lox) and pickled herring.

Mark Russ Federman ran the store for thirty years until he recently retired. Before that, he served for three years in the U.S. Army, including a year in the Vietnam War.

Federman describes his brief Army career in his sprightly written family history/memoir, Russ & Daughters: Reflections and Recipes from the House That Herring Built (Schocken Books, 205 pp., $25.95). He went to Alfred University in upstate New York in 1962, mainly to get far enough away from the family business to be sure he wouldn’t be asked to work there on weekends.

ROTC was mandatory for male students for two years. Federman opted for four. Most students, he says, “were glad to be done with the drills, the short haircut, and the spit-shined shoes. To this day I can’t answer the question, ‘Why did you volunteer to stay in?’”

Federman graduated in 1966, he writes, “with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, a commission in the United States Army as a second lieutenant, and a deferment to go to law school.” He chose Georgetown Law School over New York University’s—again, to get away from the family business. After receiving his law degree in 1969, Federman faced a two-year commitment. The Army’s “plan,” he writes, “was for me to spend one year at Fort Polk, Louisiana—famous for large mosquitoes and even larger rednecks—and then one year in Vietnam.”

Mark Federman behind the counter at Russ & Daughters

The new law school graduate managed to talk the Army into letting him serve two years at the base of his choice, followed by one year wherever the Army chose to send him. Federman wound up serving two years in San Francisco, duty he characterizes as “an office job with a dress code.” Then came orders for Vietnam. He arrived in country in 1971 and was shipped to an advisory team in “the southernmost part of the Mekong Delta,” replacing “another officer who had been blown up in his Jeep by a Claymore mine.”

His C-130 arrived “in the middle of a rice paddy in the middle of a monsoon in what looked like the end of the world,” he writes. “This was no place for a nice Jewish boy like me. After a month, I was transferred to Saigon and worked as an Army lawyer.”

As for his homecoming, Federman writes: “Like many other returning vets, when I received my discharge from the Army, I threw away my uniform. There were no brass bands welcoming us home. We were led to believe that we should be ashamed of our service, so it took years before we would admit to it.”

Federman soon married, had two children, worked as a Legal Aid lawyer and then as a prosecutor in New York City, but the pull of the family business proved to be too strong. In 1978, he chucked the law and went to work at Russ & Daughters. Today, his son and daughter are the fourth generation of the family to work behind the deli counter.

—Marc Leepson

Duc: A Reporter’s Love For a Wounded People by Uwe Siemon-Netto

Throughout Duc: A Reporter’s Love For the Wounded People of Vietnam (CreateSpace, 278 pp., $25, paper) German journalist Uwe Siemon-Netto takes us into the Vietnamese Theater of the Absurd. With him we witness events of the Vietnam War from 1965-69.

From the chapter “Uwe’s In Memoriam” to the final page of his epilogue, the author makes his case that the war in Vietnam was not a war of liberation. Siemon-Netto was not a fan of body counts, but the number of casualties and displaced persons listed in the book’s the memorial page is staggering.

Following the sequence of events in the book is sometimes difficult, but then war doesn’t always follow an orderly manner. The author describes scenes of torture, death, and loss endured by the Vietnamese people. While there are also comedic moments, they exist under a cloud of dread.

The author is a survivor of the World War II bombings in Germany, and perhaps that explains why he seldom mentions his own fears while under fire.  He has enough close calls to make Duc as exciting as any war fiction. The treatment of some of his colleagues captured by the VC, Siemon-Netto claims, shows that the conflict was one of hatred and killing—not a war of liberation.

Siemon-Netto defines “comedy of the absurd” as juxtaposing two opposite realities. One such pair of opposites was the reporting of journalists on the scene and what he says was the distortion of events told to the people in America.  Another was the need for a necessary commitment for a long protracted war in contrast to a quick victory expected by Americans. Both of these situations, the author says, led to the communists’ victory in the war.

This theater of the absurd had a cast of characters unequaled in any Hollywood production. Children who commandeered the author’s car for a home and women who drastically altered their bodies to be more enticing to Western males might have been dark comedy in a fictional work. But the war and his stories are not fiction.

One of the author’s colleagues had the habit of coming drunk to press conferences and asking inane questions. At the U.S. government press conferences, the “Five O’clock Follies,” as the reporters called them, seldom was anything of importance released.  In one such press conference an entire hour was dedicated to the discussion of a G.I. urinating on a temple wall.

Uwe Siemon-Netto

The 1968 Tet Offensive was perhaps the greatest performance in the theater of the absurd. It would prove to be a major turning point in the war. The absurdities lay in the fact that while the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong clearly lost the conflict on the field, the American public turned against the war. While the end was becoming inevitable, the bloodshed would continue for nearly five more years.

Siemon-Netto opens his heart to us as he describes the battle for the city of Hue in which thousands of men, women, and children were systematically murdered by the North Vietnamese. The author describes the mass graves of the dead and sometimes of the living.

The author’s wife Gillian joined him in Saigon. She, too, experienced being under fire in street battles. Siemon-Netto describes the daily violence and dangers experienced by the people of Saigon while little of this was being reported back home.

Seimon-Netto accomplishes his goal of taking us into the heart of a wounded people. Though he exposes us to the darkness in the heart of evil men, he also takes us into the light and resilience of self-sacrificing people who loved their country and their families.

Many readers of Duc will gain much information about the war in Southeast Asia, or will at least be reminded of things forgotten.

Uwe Seimon-Netto argues that the war crimes perpetrated by the communists were part of their policy. While Americans were sometimes guilty of war crimes, our crimes were not a part of our combat policy. That gives me hope for our future.

The author’s website is www.siemon-netto.org

—Joseph Reitz

Vietnam Body Count by Mushroom Montoya

Montoya served two tours in Vietnam aboard the USS Trippe (DE 1075) and the USS Truxton (DLGN 35). In his creatively written memoir, Vietnam Body Count (CreateSpace, 370 pp., $17, paper), Montoya  tells us that after killing soldiers, women, and children in Vietnam, he circumnavigated the globe.

Montoya’s worked in “R” (Repair) gangs on board his Navy ships. He fixed things such as broken plumbing. His job was to keep a ship from sinking and he also fought shipboard fires. They called him a snipe.

This memoir, which reads very much like a novel, pays homage to Herman Wouk’s classic shipboard novel, The Caine Mutiny. The main plot is the tension between Chief Jaffe and Mushroom Montoya, whom Jaffe decides is a “peacenik” and must be gotten off his ship by any means possible.

Jaffe tries again and again to frame Montoya as a drug user, which he is not. Mushroom is a guy who showed up for this stint in the Navy, his second, with hair down to his shoulders. He burns up his rage at the killing by running around and around the ship’s smokestack screaming. He also meditates, which seems suspicious to the chief. Montoya, who is from California, even has a mantra.

The captain of the ship, as we are alerted by the title, is obsessed with getting a positive body count. He is a Commander, not a Captain, and also is obsessed with making Captain. Unfortunately, his ship has killed friendly villagers and American and South Vietnamese soldiers, which has given the ship a negative body count.

Mushroom Montoya

To get the body count up, the captain decides to bomb a Catholic church during Sunday morning mass. Intel indicates that the VC are hiding ammo under the floor of the church. Montoya and friends decide to alert the priest that the attack is coming so that the church will be empty when the bombs hit. Montoya is told that it would be tantamount to treason to give this information to the priest.

Montoya’s efforts to thwart his captain’s goals are fueled by letters from his friend Kathy, who asks him if he is the sort of guy who took part in the My Lai Massacre and the napalming of Vietnamese children. She says that she hopes “he is not involved in stuff like that.”

Of course, the purpose of war is to kill, so he is involved in stuff like that.  All of us who were there were involved.

Montoya holds forth about the purpose of the Vietnam War. He says we were not there to stop the spread of communism, but “we’re pouring [money] into the pockets of the cigar smoking fatties at Dow Chemical.”   He goes on to say: “We’re killing the Vietnamese so that American business can thrive.”

I was pleased when Jane Fonda was addressed as a subject in this philosophical war memoir. Mushroom says he was proud of her when she was in Hanoi trying to stop the war. Montoya agrees with Fonda, and praises her and her film Barbarella.

Chief Jaffe, on the other hand says, “She’s a fucking traitor. I hope they shoot the bitch.” Montoya replies, “She has big balls.”

For readers who enjoyed The Caine Mutiny and want to read a book similar to it in many ways—but which takes part in the Vietnam War—this is the book for you. I found it a refreshing contrast so many Vietnam War memoirs that laud the American war in Vietnam, but forget about all the innocent villagers who died from being shelled, and the many American soldiers who died as a result of indiscriminate friendly fire.

Blasting a Roman Catholic Church off the face of the earth on Sunday morning was not an effective way to win hearts and minds or defeat the spread of communism.

The author’s website is http://vietnambodycount.blogspot.com

—David Willson

This Is What Hell Looks Like by Stuart Allan Steinberg

Untitled

Stuart Allan Steinberg served in the U. S. Army from 1967 until 1971 as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal operator. Wherever he went he was greeted with respect. “E-O-Fucking-D,” someone would intone.

He helped clean up the worst nerve gas disaster in U. S. history in March of 1968 at Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah. To leave that behind, Steinberg volunteered for Vietnam. He served in Vietnam from September 1968 to March 1970, dealing with every possible kind of explosive situation short of atomic. 

Steinberg calls his job in Vietnam exhilarating and exciting. That is also true of his memoir This Is What Hell looks Like: Explosive Ordnance Disposal: Dugway Proving Grounds 1968, Vietnam  1968 -1970 ($4.99, e book). He communicates those pleasures with his strong and creative language. He is a master of understatement, as when he says: “In this country there have been times when it was not an advantage to be a Vietnam veteran.”

Steinberg’s comment about volunteering for Vietnam made me laugh aloud. “I’m Jewish,” he writes, “and Jews were not exactly lining up to volunteer for Vietnam.” Norwegian Lutherans were not doing that either. Many of us had to be drafted.

Steinberg served in several places in Vietnam, including the 184th Ordnance Battalion at Qu Nhon, the 25th Ordnance Detachment (EOD) at An Khe, and the 287th Ordnance Detachment in Phu Bai in Northern I Corps. He mentions the death of a friend from exposure to “herbicide” in Vietnam. He also says that he suffers from diabetes due to his exposure to Agent Orange. And has had bladder cancer, which the VA does not presume to be related to AO. Stuart Steinberg and I know better.

He includes a long, eloquent rant on the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam, which is more than worth the price of the book. As for the effectiveness of the toxic herbicide against the enemy, he says: “Fat fucking lot of good it did.”  The Viet Cong still came and went just as they pleased with nothing slowing them down enough to matter.  “Vietnam,” he writes, “is the war that just keeps on fucking killing.”

This is an edge-of-the-seat book in which the reader is right there with Steinberg as he disarms satchel charges, clears dead bodies for bobby traps, strips ordnance from bodies, and has to deal with the foul stench of rotting flesh while disposing dud RPG rounds and stick grenades of Chinese origin.

He uses vivid and honest language to describe what he saw. Steinberg thought it “a sick fucking war and the people who were in charge were twisted motherfuckers.” The war, he says, “will always be a mystery to me… Win what? What did we win?” That is what he asks those who say that we won that war.

Steinberg’s prose communicates “the long, hard, brutal, sweaty hours” of his job in Vietnam. His emotional honesty moved this reader when he discussed how he is trying to have a good third marriage and mend his relationship with his son.

He describes himself as a “uninformed dumbass” who should have been “by any measurement…dead and then some,” but who went on from Vietnam to get a law degree and become a capital crimes defense investigator in Oregon.

One thing I enjoyed about this memoir is his comment about Ham and Lima bean c rations—his favorite. “I was the only soldier in Vietnam who liked them,” he says.  I also loved his reference to Francis Scott Key’s “rocket’s red glare” at Fort McHenry. As an EOD operator, Steinberg saw plenty of that.

Steinberg went on to work as a veterans’ service officer, accredited by the VA to handle claims. One of his clients had bone cancer from AO exposure, perhaps the same Multiple Myeloma I have. I am sure Steinberg was an excellent advocate.

This is one of the most powerful memoirs of Vietnam it has been my good luck to read. Buy this book and read it.  It is the most honest Vietnam memoir since Ernest Spencer’s classic, Welcome to Vietnam Macho Man. It kicks ass and takes names.  

For ordering info, email vietnameod@thisiswhathelllookslike.com or go to http://thisiswhathelllookslike.com

—David Willson

A-bout-Face, Forward March by Stephen Paul Campos

Stephen Paul Campos’s A-bout Face, Forward March (AuthorHouse, 295 pp., $28.99, hardcover, $19.95, paper) is about “surviving the turmoil and uncertainties of life and trying to heal and make sense of them afterward,” the author writes in his preface. “This is my personal journey from my ‘in-sanity’ in my addictions and dysfunctions to new birth, hope, peace and serenity.”

Campos grew up in Modesto, California. “I often dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player,” he writes. “I also fantasized about being in the Army, a soldier like John Wayne, and single-handedly winning the war.”

After graduating from high school, Campos married his girlfriend after she became pregnant. He then briefly lived a “hippie lifestyle,” as he puts it, and enrolled in junior college. But Campos was an indifferent student and his marriage was on the rocks when his wife gave him an ultimatum: “Go into the service or we’ll get divorced.”

Campos “got into a lot of trouble” in the summer of 1967, he says, and decided the Army would be the way to escape. “Maybe the service wasn’t a bad idea,” he writes. “If I joined the Army, then I would not have to worry about getting drafted and being sent out in the infantry.”

Stephen Paul Campos

He did join the Army at age nineteen, but wound up in the infantry anyway, serving a combat-heavy tour of duty from April 1968 to April 1969 with two companies in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade. Compos tells his life story in this book, with a heavy emphasis on his tour of duty.

The last few chapters deal with his emotionally rocky homecoming. “NO one would look at me,” Campos writes. “NO one wanted to ask me about Vietnam. NO one would look at me. I felt the rejection and their internal opposition for my war effort.”

Campos began to drink heavily. He developed post-traumatic stress disorder. Using lots of reconstructed dialogue, he describes his many years of emotional ups and downs. He ends with a short chapter with advice on how to overcome “dysfunctions, addictions and anxiety.”

“For those of you have have been in combat,” Compos writes, “PLEASE take heed and get help. War does change a person. But, we can overcome it and make something beautiful out of our lives.”

The author’s website is www.a-bout-face.com

—Marc Leepson