War Dog Six by Harvey Baker

Harvey Baker’s War Dog Six: Tales of the Spirit Warrior (Amazon Digital Services, 361 pp., $3.99, Kindle), we are told by the author, “is a fictional novel and is based on the historic war Americans fought in a place called Vietnam. This is a war story for those who like war stories.”

Baker dedicates his book to a service dog named Rommel, “a very intelligent, true and loyal friend that I had the honor of serving with, and who was killed in action in 1968 in a place called Vietnam.”  Baker does not spell out his own military service, but I surmise he was a dog handler during the Vietnam War.

There are two heroes in this war story: Rommel, the dog, and Two Feathers, a Blackfeet Indian from Montana serving in the Marine Corps. And, in fact, this is very much a Marine Corps novel.

Two Feathers and Rommel are given a mission. Even though he is a sniper, Two Feathers is told to do a “sneak and peek” and to find a way to shut down the Ho Chi Minh Trail. His patrol sign is “War Dog Six.”

The author provides us with a three-page list of the stuff that Two Feathers carries into the jungle on this mission. One thing is thirty pounds of pre-packaged Prime dog food in one-pound packages. He is also carrying his own food and dry socks and a PRC25 radio and extra batteries. And a CAR-15 rifle. I estimate he was toting about a hundred pounds of stuff.

Two Feathers was told before he left about his mission: “It will be up to you to fill in the gaps that we don’t know about.”

The book is pretty well written, although the occasional annoyance pops up. I thought that reading the phrase “panty wearing politicians” once was forgivable, but it appeared more than once. What does that even mean or imply?  I know what “assholes in Congress” means. I also know what Baker means when he talks about the enemy and the desire to “kick their asses back to the Stone Age.”

Agent Orange is covered briefly. It’s a “liquid spray that will kill off all ground vegetation,” Baker writes. “Is this chemical dangerous to humans? Naw, this is some new miracle chemical. It doesn’t hurt people.” Someone was lying. 

This book is packed with action. There are treacherous ARVN officers who set up a trap for Americans and spring it, using false information about a POW camp where Americans are being held as bait.

I found this book enjoyable and read it in one sitting. It could use a few more commas, though. And the proofreading was spotty. For instance, we find “waste” where the word “waist” was intended.

But it is a well-plotted war adventure novel and the dog, Rommel, was well-presented and well-characterized. He was believable, and I enjoyed how he communicated with Two Feathers by pronouncing a soft and careful “woof.”

I read the book because I like dog books. I was happy the dog did not die in this book. If Baker writes a sequel in which Rommel dies, I won’t read that one.

—David Willson

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