‘My Brothers Have My Back’ By Lou Pepi

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Lou Pepi’s “My Brothers Have My Back”: Inside the November 1969 Battle on the Vietnamese DMZ (McFarland, 225 pp., $35, paper; $18.99, Kindle)  tells the story of one of the biggest battles in the Vietnam War. It took place in November of 1969 and was known as the battle for Hill 100 and also as the Battle of Gallagher Ridge.

Pepi has done an impressive amount of research. There are after action reports, citations, journal accounts, and interviews with fifty men who took part in the fight.

The battle was fought less than two miles from the DMZ where four Fifth Infantry Division rifle companies (around 600 men) met 2,000-3000 NVA troops and battled it out for three days. A Viet Cong document captured near Saigon showed that the NVA attack was timed to coincide with the large Vietnam War Moratorium antiwar demonstrations in the United States planned for November 15th.

Pepi, who was drafted into the Army in March of 1968, served as a 21-year-old  infantryman with Alpha Company of the 1st Battalion/61st Infantry Regiment in the Fifth Infantry Division. Four months after he arrived in country, Pepi found himself on the last helicopter that delivered troops into the battle.

He offers unique insights into the story of the men who fought those three days in 1969.

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Pepi in Vietnam

I found the account difficult to follow in some places as Pepi mixed many individual accounts of the battle with full citations. The large number of images, however, added greatly to the book.

I would recommend this book to Vietnam War historians and to anyone who was involved in this action.

—Mark S. Miller

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