From Vietnam to the Arctic Circle by Jack Whitehouse

The subtitle of Jack Whitehouse’s From Vietnam to the Arctic Circle (McFarland, 267 pp. $29.95, paper; $17.99, Kindle), Memoir of a Naval Officer in the Cold War, is a reminder to those of us who served in-country during the Vietnam War that much of the rest of the world continued to be embroiled in the Cold War. 

Whitehouse has created a nicely crafted book. It begins with his high school years and includes how he choose a naval career. With a family history of military service, it was an easy decision.

As his memoir unfolds, there seemed to be almost an On The Road urgency to it as the pace of the writing picked up markedly as Whitehouse moved into the details of his Navy tour of duty. To do so required good notes and a yeoman’s effort at research. Whitehouse gives credit to his wife Elaine for reviewing and correcting the manuscript “numerous times.”

Beginning in 1968, Whitehouse served on the USS Buck, a World War II era destroyer, for two tours on Yankee Station in South China Sea off the coast of Vietnam. In 1971 he became the commanding officer of a gun boat, the USS Chehalis, which operated out of the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay. Later he became the first U.S. Navy exchange officer with the Royal Norwegian Navy.

Whitehouse tells many stories involving all of his duty stations, on the water and behind a desk. It seems as though there was always something going on worth writing about. Of particular interest was his time with the Royal Norwegian Navy; his stories of cruises and patrols above the Arctic Circle are well told and quite interesting.

At the end of the book, as he resigns from the Navy, Whitehouse moves on to a second career as a case officer in the Directorate of Operations at the CIA.

The book includes an Appendix titled,  “Soviet Socialism and its Influences Today.” It alone is worth the price of the book.

From Vietnam to the Arctic Circle is a good read. I highly recommend it.

–Tom Werzyn