Boots by Stephen L. Park

Stephen Park was drafted into the Army in July of 1966 at age twenty. He was given the opportunity to go to OCS and took it. Park arrived in Vietnam in February of 1968 and put in a year with Delta Company of the 1st Battalion/18th Infantry in the 1st Infantry Division, most of it in the field as a platoon leader operating out of the Big Red One’s base camp at DiAn.

“Although drafted, I was glad to be [in Vietnam] in a perverse way,” Park writes in Boots: An Unvarnished Memoir of Vietnam (Writers AMuse Me Publishing, 284 pp., $13.99, paper), a readable, well-written book that focuses almost exclusively on his year in the war zone. “War had its own strange lure, and I accepted the fate of my role long before arrival. I trained for it, bought into the idea of war, with a surplus of youthful naivete to be perhaps overly curious about war.”

When he arrived in country, Park “still possessed the feeling of innate immortality,” he writes, “but the false bravado of group roars, growls, and chants repetitiously performed in training was gone.”

Stephen Park

Changes “within myself,” he says, “were to come quickly, subtly, almost intangibly within the next two weeks. I could feel it inside as I changed from sentimental ideals to the cheap reality of war, the ‘learning curve where a year of aging could be done in a month’ type of shit. It was something no amount of training could duplicate. It was part of becoming hardcore.”

The author’s website is http://stephenlpark.webs.com

—Marc Leepson