Robert Owens served as a U.S. Army medic in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam and in the Cambodian Invasion with the 9th Infantry Division in 1970. When the 9th was transferred back to the U. S., Doc Owens (a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America) was sent to the First Cav.
His novel, Pointman II: Out of the Darkness (Delizon, 270 pp., $$13, paper; $5.90, Kindle), begins with sappers invading a bar, the White Dragon, detonating satchel charges, and killing a lot of people, including the pregnant girlfriend of the hero, Mike Brooks. After her death, Brooks thinks of nothing but revenge.
The novel contains a bit of the philosophical notion that the U.S. won the war and that we were stabbed in the back by politicians and hippies back home. But that is not the major thrust of this excellent book.
We read about some “damned REMF’s”, too. But Sgt. Brooks is soon out of the Army and back home in an America he barely recognizes—and which does not recognize him. At this point, Brooks’ real struggles begin. This is mostly a book about a Vietnam veterans’ return to America, but it is enriched by many interlarded chapters about his friend who is still in Vietnam and who is still a point man. Until he is shot in the chest.
Back home, Brooks gets in a bar fight, and ends up in court in front of a judge who sentences him to work in a VA Hospital and Nursing Home. The place stinks of urine. During the chapters about his service in the hospital, I often found myself in tears. Part of the reason is that I’d just been to the VA for treatment for the cancer I have that was caused by frequent exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. Also, I took ten dexamethasone, which hit me hard emotionally. That said, the spiritual transformation of Brooks, due to his time spent with Mr. Buckner, a dying World War I veteran, are a powerful message of hope in an otherwise bleak novel.
They are the most powerful and moving chapters in the book. When Mr. Buckner lists all of his close friends who died young after their war, he counsels Brooks to “Remember, your time is coming, too and life goes by too quickly. Make the most of it ‘cause doors open and then they slam shut.”
At the very end, it looks likely that Mike Brooks heard what Mr. Buckner told him. The narrator says that in the VA Hospital the World War I veterans were the most enjoyable to be around. It is a great regret of mine that they were all dead by the time I ended up in a VA Hospital.
When I reviewed Pointman, the first book in this series, I highly recommended it. I recommend this one even more highly. It is a great book about the return to America of a Vietnam veteran and how he is spiritually redeemed through service to others.