Blue Water, Brown Water by Randall Gray Cook

VVA member Randall Gray Cook’s new, well-written memoir, Blue Water, Brown Water: Stories of Life in the Navy and in Vietnam (CreateSpace, 392 pp., $14.50, paper), is “about what the Navy looked and sounded like,” Cook says, “in day-to-day operations.” The book also is about “some of the best men I have ever known,” he says, “and about how the world looked through my eyes” while the author served in the U.S. Navy from 1968-71.

Cook signed up for a stint in the U.S. Navy in 1967 with the draft breathing down his neck. He reported to Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I., in February of 1968. His first Vietnam War assignment, aboard the destroyer, the USS Herbert J. Thomas, began on July 4, 1969—blue water duty on Yankee Station in the Gulf on Tonkin.

His second tour began early in 1970, a brown water tour during Vietnamization. Cook’s assignment was to “provide ‘armed logistical support’ to whoever called for our services in the Mekong Delta.” Most of that time he spent aboard the USS Monmouth County, a World War II vintage LST.

—Marc Leepson