365 and A Wake-Up by Frank Jolliff

Frank Jolliff’s 365 and a Wake-Up: My Year in Vietnam (Harmonie Park Press, 392 pp., $16.95, paper) is an honest, well-written, and well-organized memoir of his one year (from January 1967 to January 1968) in Vietnam as an Army medic. His point of view includes welcome introspection about whether or not what he did was worth doing, and his book held this reader’s interest throughout.

Jolliff (below) includes the most satisfying chapter I’ve ever read in a Vietnam War book, novel or memoir, about a spit-shined colonel who hovers overhead in his command copter urging the guys on the ground to move faster, faster, faster, but gets his just desserts.The colonel lands, walks a few feet on a rice paddy dike, and gets blown up.

I have been waiting for this scene for over 25 years of reading Viet Nam War books. Unfortunately, the colonel’s RTO also is blown up. John Wayne, leeches, booby traps, and Agent Orange all appear in this fine memoir by a draftee who was awarded a Silver Star for his heroism as a combat medic.

—David Willson