Donald Tackett joined the U.S. Marine Corps in the summer of 1967 soon after graduating from high school. He was seventeen, and had to get his mother to sign the papers, something she did only reluctantly.
Why did he join the Marines during the height of the Vietnam War? “I think I did it more to show my older brother [who had joined the Air Force] I was tougher than he was or to impress my girlfriend who, by the way, did not know of my decision either.” Tackett writes in We Never Wanted A Parade (BookLogix, 282 pp., $19.95, paper). “Who knows the real reason? I, to this day, don’t really know why.”
Don “Tack” Tackett turned eighteen in boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. Next came infantry training at Camp Pendleton. He arrived in Vietnam on December 16, 1967, and put in an eventful tour of duty with Kilo Company of the Third Marine Battalion, Seventh Marines north of Da Nang.
He left Vietnam at the end of December 1968. As his plane took off, Tackett writes, “I was a nineteen-year-old kid who had seen more death and destruction that one person should ever have to endure.”
His leave at home in Ohio was not pleasant. “Paranoia kept creeping up on me,” Tackett says. “I was always feeling like people were staring at me. I had never had that feeling before I joined the Marines, and I didn’t like it. It would later cause me to get into many fights that I would never had gotten into.”
Tackett mustered out of the Marines in August of 1969, thought about college, but took a job and got married, then decided to rejoin the Marines because he “really missed the military life.” But when a Marine recruiter told Tackett he’d have to take basic training again, he had second thoughts and joined the Army, which waived basic training for him. He stayed in the Army and retired as a Sergeant Major in 1998.
In this well-written memoir Tackett concentrates primarily on his time in Vietnam with the Marines, which included a three-month period where he was confined to a hospital because of a serious illness. It also included a lot of combat action that led to him battling post-traumatic stress disorder for decades after coming home.