Dusterman: Vietnam: Story of the Last Great Gunfighters (SamPat Press, 277 pp., $19.95, paper) is a well-written Vietnam War memoir, with lots of pictures, by Joseph M. Belardo, Jr. A VVA member, Belardo served from August 1967 to August 1968 with a 1st Battalion, 44th Artillery mobile combat team and body recovery unit called the “Dusters.” His unit was attached to the Third Marine Division along the DMZ. Much of the book consists of excerpts from Belardo;s Vietnam War diary.
Belardo was drafted into the Army at age nineteen. He had Basic Training and Artillery AIT at Fort Hood in Texas, and arrived in Vietnam ten months later. Belardo’s unit had at its disposal twin 40mm Dusters, Quad-50 machine guns mounted on deuce-and-a-halfs, and searchlights mounted on jeeps. “It was our job to provide perimeter and convoy security, daily guard duty, evening firing of Harassment and Interdiction missions, search and destroy missions, body recovery or anything else the Marines required,” he explains.
Among other things, Belardo’s unit was the last to leave the abandoned Khe Sanh combat base. For more info, go to the author’s website.