James E. Livingston received the Medal of Honor for his extreme courage and daring leadership under fire in late April of 1968 during a vicious three-day battle that raged in and around the village of Dai Do outside Dong Ha between the 320th NVA Division and two 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division battalions. Livingston, a 28-year-old Captain commanding Company E of the 2nd Battalion—along with G Co.’s CPT Jay Vargas—fearlessly led his men through long hours of constant action, including an assault on the NVA positions, despite being wounded three times. Vargas also received the MOH for his actions that day.
Livingston (above) recovered from his wounds, came back to Vietnam in 1975 to help plan and carry out Operation Frequent Wind (the final evacuation of Saigon), and retired from the Marine Crops as a Major General.
The bulk of Livingston’s book, Noble Warrior: The Story of Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston, USMC (Ret.), Medal of Honor (Zenith, 272 pp., $28), is a first-person account of the general’s life and war times. The book also contains his reflections on military service, war, and national security. There also are first-person, sidebar-like inserts from Marines who served with Livingston and Forewords from Marine Gens. Al Gray, Paul X. Kelley, and William Weise.
Livingston wrote the book with the help of former Marine Colin D. Heaton (a military historian who served under Livingston) and Anne-Marie Lewis.
Stephen Perry and three of his buddies enlisted in the Army in November 1965. The plan was that the four California friends would go Special Forces on the buddy plan. They took basic at Fort Ord. But only Perry and Bert Merriman made it to Special Forces training school.
The training entailed combat engineer AIT at Fort Leonard Wood, jump school at Fort Benning and then the payoff: the JFK Center for Special Warfare at Fort Bragg. Merriman went to Vietnam, but Perry underwent more training at Fort Sam Houston, where he became a medical specialist, and at Fort Rucker. Perry then volunteered for the war zone. He landed in Vietnam in December 1967, was shipped up to Da Nang, and then assigned to the shadowy Special Operations Group (SOG) in Phu Bai.
“SOG was not officially part of the Special Forces operations in South East Asia, but Special Forces was used as a cover to shift highly trained insurgents into the top secret operations,” Perry writes in his revealing memoir, Bright Light: Untold Stories of the Top Secret War in Vietnam (Book Locker, 128 pp., $16.95, paper).
In the book, Perry recounts secret ops, including ones into North Vietnam, searching for downed U.S. pilots, and into Laos on intelligence-gathering missions. For more, including ordering info about an updated edition, go to the publisher’s website.
The author’s website is www.brightlight1968.com
Vietnam veteran Mike Monahan is a well-known speaker in the personal-development field. His book, From the Jungle to the Boardroom (Beacon Publishing, 150 pp., $20), provides business leadership lessons based on those that the author learned during his 1969-70 tour of duty in Vietnam.
Monahan opens the book with two very short chapters on his year in the war zone. “I’m proud that I served in Vietnam,” he says, “but hate the fact that we never seem to learn from our mistakes.”
The balance of this readable book deals with the three questions that Monahan asked himself in Vietnam and ones, he says, he still asks himself each day: “Am I prepared? Am I safe? Am I alone?”
These are “leadership questions,” Monahan says. “We’re all leaders, twenty-four hours a day—we’re leading ourselves and we’re leading others at work and at home.”
The author’s website is http://www.thinkmonahan.com/
Sam Gaylord joined the Marines when he was eighteen years old in the summer of 1967. After boot camp and advanced training and a stop in Okinawa, he landed in Danang on February 1, as the Tet Offensive was raging. Gaylord then took part in the Battle of Hue. On June 21, 1968, Sam Gaylord was severely wounded when his company was hit while out in the bush on a search-and-destroy mission. He lost both feet in the attack and had a long, difficult recovery in hospitals in Vietnam and Japan and back home at the Great Lakes and Philadelphia Naval Hospitals.
Gaylord tells his war and difficult postwar stories in his straightforward memoir, Then I Came Home (AuthorHouse, 160 pp., $25.50)
Suel D. Jones served as a rifleman in Vietnam with the First Marine Battalion, Third Marine Regiment of the Third Marine Division near the DMZ from early May of 1968 until he was severely wounded in April of 1969. His memoir, Meeting the Enemy: A Marine Goes Home (BookSurge, 235 pp., $25.99, paper), is a well written account that tells Jones’ Vietnam War story, as well as the disillusionment and psychological distress he felt after returning home, and his cathartic trip back to Vietnam in 1998.
Henry Pelifian, who did a tour of duty in Vietnam with the U.S. Army, went on to serve in the Peace Corps in Thailand and later worked in the U.S. Refugee Program along the Thai-Cambodian border. Pelifian’s Stellar Energies To America (AuthorHouse, 165 pp., $15.99, paperback) contains five short stories and an autobiographical Vietnam War novella, “A Final Quietus.” In the novella, main character Dave Dakasian is drafted just after his 19th birthday and winds up in Vietnam in a unit near Qui Nhon.
The author’s website is http://www.fictionaut.com/users/henry-pelifian