Ed Gaydos grew up in St. Louis. When he was fifteen, he left home and spent the next seven years at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Wisconsin. But Gaydos never went into the priesthood—mainly because he realized celibacy was not for him. Instead, the twenty-two-year-old came home, lived in his parents’ basement, and began a Master’s program in philosophy at St. Louis University. He also anxiously awaited the inevitable call from his draft board.
“I had no strong feelings against the war, and not enough guts to leave the country,” as some of his friends did, Gaydos says in Seven In a Jeep: A Memoir of the Vietnam War (Columbus Press, 332 pp., $17.95, paper), his well-written look at his Vietnam War life and times.
Gaydos tried to get into Air Force OCS, but when he was told he’d have to do four years as an EM, he declined. Instead, Gaydos joined the Army after a recruiter told him he could serve for less than three years and put off induction for six months so he could finish his MA. “On the form I had to check a box for what specialty I wanted,” Gaydos says. “There were four listed, and I picked combat engineering. I had no idea what a combat engineer did, but it seemed more glamorous and probably safer than infantry, artillery or tanks.”
Gaydos had Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood and AIT at Fort Sill, where he changed his mind about becoming an officer. Gaydos, instead, managed to get into Artillery Combat Leadership school at Sill, a six-month shake and bake operation. Gaydos thrived in the program, becoming the honor graduate of his class. He arrived in Vietnam in April of 1970, and served for eleven months with B Battery of the 5/27th Artillery at LZ Sherry in the Central Highlands
Gaydos’s memoir focuses on his time in Vietnam. He makes good use of a mountain of letters he wrote to his family and then-girlfriend Kathleen (now his wife of forty-something years), as well as the photos he took in country, along with some research he did on his unit at the National Archives.
The result is a readable book filled with a good deal of reconstructed dialogue and some black humor, along with excerpts from his letters, as well as a collection of photos that ably evokes Gaydos’s time in the Vietnam War.
The author’s website is http://seveninajeep.com