Terry Garlock joined the Army to avoid the draft. “I wanted to fly instead of pounding the ground with a rifle,” he writes in Strength & Honor: America’s Best in Vietnam (Virtualbookworm.com, 462 pp., $25.95). The book contains a group of detailed first-person essays from Vietnam veterans, along with shorter “Postcards to America,” in which the writers tell their Vietnam War and post-war stories.
“I selected vets who were ordinary people, not larger-than-life heroes or generals. I sought the points of view from a variety of wartime jobs representing the four branches of our armed forces,” Garlock says in his preface. “Each chapter is a different vet telling a piece of their story.”
Garlock served as a twenty-one-year-old Cobra helicopter gunship pilot with the 334th Attack Helicopter Company of the 145th Combat Aviation Battalion stationed at Bien Hoa in 1969. His tour ended abruptly when Garlock was shot down and severely wounded on December 17, 1969. He includes his Vietnam War experiences in the book, as well as a history of the Vietnam War in the last chapter.
The book emphasizes, as its title indicates, positive aspects of the war and those who served in it. It also condemns the way the nation treated Vietnam veterans after we came home. As the noted Vietnam War correspondent Joe Galloway says in his preface: “As you read the stories in Terry’s book, think about this: they were the best you had, America, and you turned your back on them.”
The author’s website is http://www.garlock1.com