From the Jungle to the Boardroom by Mike Monahan

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

—Marc Leepson


Then I Came Home by Sam Gaylord

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)

—Marc Leepson

Meeting the Enemy by Suel D. Jones

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.

—Marc Leepson


Stellar Energies to America by Henry Pelifian

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

—Marc Leepson

Little Victories by Jack Farley

Jack Farley’s Little Victories: A True Story From the Vietnam War (354 pp., paper) recounts the author’s 1969-70 tour of duty in Vietnam with Navy Seabee Team Zero Seven Zero Seven in and around the U Minh Forest. Farley, who died after his book was published in 2007, spoke Vietnamese and wound up working for the CIA in Vietnam.

—Marc Leepson

My Vietnam by Ed Kugler

My Vietnam: Montana Veterans’ Stories Straight From the Heart (244 pp., $14. 95, paper) is an oral history that grew out of the Frenchtown Vietnam Symposium, which started more than a decade ago at Frenchtown (Montana) High School. Thirteen of the Montana Vietnam veterans who spoke to the Frenchtown H.S. students in that program tell their stories in this book, put together by Ed Kugler, who served as a Marine sniper in Vietnam with the 4th Marine Scout-Snipers during his 1966-68 tour of duty. 

For ordering info, go to the book’s website.  

—Marc Leepson

The War by Gerald A. Spence

Gerald A. Spence’s The War: 361 Days, 12 Hours, and 27 Minutes in Vietnam (Tate Publishing, 177 pp., $12.99) tells the fictional story of Jerry Simpson, who gets drafted at age 22 in 1966 just after taking a job as a firefighter. The newly married young man leaves his pregant wife at home and ships off (by ship) to Vietnam with the 337th Signal Company and arrives in country in the summer of 1967.

This cleanly written, short novel—which has all the earmarks of being autobiographical—follows Simpson through his nearly one-year tour of duty in VIetnam. The author is a retired firefighter who served in the Vietnam War.

—Marc Leepson

Phantom in the River by Gary Wayne Foster

Gary Wayne Foster’s Phantom in the River: The Flight of Linfield Two Zero One (Hellgate, 218 pp., $19.95, paper), tells the story of the flight of a Navy F-4B Phantom II jet flown by Ev Southwick and Jack Rollins on May 14, 1967. After taking off from the USS Kitty Hawk on a mission to blow up the Thanh Hoa Bridge in North Vietnam, the jet’s engines seriously malfunctioned and were about to explode when the two crewmen ejected over North Vietnam. They soon were taken prisonor, and landed in the Hanoi Hilton.

Foster tells the story clearly and well. And the story also includes accounts of the trips he made to Vietnam with Southwick and Rollins to Vietnam in 2004 and 2009. Amazingly, the men found the wreckage of their plane—and posed for photos. The also visited the bridge they bombed and the prison in which they were held.

—Marc Leepson

Fragging by George LePre

The term “fragging” was coined during the Vietnam War. Every Vietnam veteran knows the definition. In Fragging: Why U.S. Soldiers Assaulted Their Officers in Vietnam (Texas Tech University, 356 pp., $34.95) Army veteran and author George Lepre does a very thorough job trying to answer the subtitle’s question in this, the first detailed study of the fragging phenomenon.

Lepre notes that seriously deteriorating morale beginning in 1968 was the main motivating factor in Vietnam War fragging incidents. That led to a divisive “us-versus-them” attitude among career officers and NCOs (does the word “lifer” ring a bell?) and junior enlisted personnel. That factor played into “the larger social picture,” as Lepre puts it, as a “climate of hostility emerged among American troops in Vietnam that did not exist in other wars.”

Lepre did a ton of research for the book and, among other things, came up with a better look at the fuzzy fragging statistics, although he concedes that for a variety of factors the total number of fraggings that took place in the Vietnam War “will never be known.”

His research confrmed 94 incidents of fragging in the Marine Corps, in which 15 Marines were killed and more than 100 injured. As for the Army, Lepre says that the total number of incidents ranged from 600-850, “or possibly more.” His research indicated that 42 soldiers were killed in those fragging incidents in Vietnam and about a dozen others died “by their own ordnance during apparent attempts to assault others.”

—Marc Leepson

Vietnam: No Regrets by J. Richard Watkins

J. Richard Watkins’ Vietnam: No Regrets: One Soldier’s Tour of Duty (Bay State Publishing, 244 pp., $17.95, paper) is a well-written, mostly chronological account of the author’s 1969-70 tour of duty in Vietnam with A Company, 1/27th, the Wolfhounds of the Army’s 25th Infantry Division.

Watkins, a VVA member from Brockton, Mass., begins with his arrival in Cu Chi in late November of ’69, and ends with coming home late in October of ’70. In between, Watkins saw more than his share of action. His website is

—Marc Leepson