Beyond the Names: A Tribute to the Clermont County, Ohio, Vietnam War Dead (Little Miami Publishing, 306 pp., $22.50, paper) is a work of love and admiration for forty men who lost their lives as a result of the Vietnam War. All of them came from Clermont County, Ohio; they served in every branch of the military. Gary L. Knepp, an attorney and adjunct professor of American history and political science at the University of Cincinnati, wrote the book to keep the sacrifices of these men from fading into obscurity.
Each year of the war, from 1965-72, has a separate chapter in the book. Knepp begins the chapters with summaries of events in Vietnam and in Clermont County, the the southwest part of the state outside Cincinnati. He then presents the biographies of the men killed that year.
Knepp enhances the portraits with interviews of families and friends of the men and with a report on his travels in Vietnam in 2006 and 2009. His observations while in-country help close the circle on some of the casualties’ lives. He also conducted document searches and other research to find answers to questions that some family members had never resolved.
Because the stories involve twenty-three soldiers, eleven Marines, five airmen, and one Navy corpsman, the reader gets a picture of operations across virtually the entire theater of the Vietnam War. Of the forty men, thirty-one were enlistees. Nineteen were under twenty-one years of age when they died.
A majority died in combat; the others perished in different ways. Their stories vary in length and cover as much of each man’s life as Knepp could uncover. His research shows once again the unpredictability and unforgiving nature of life in a combat zone.
The author’s website is www.garyknepp.com