Dustoff by Arnold Hughbrook Sampson, Jr.

Arnold Sampson, Jr., takes an exploratory journey into the past in Dustoff: More than Met the Eye, Reflections of a Vietnam Medevac Pilot (BookBaby, 200 pp. $19.69, paper). This war memoir is exceptional because, in examining his role as a UH1-H medevac (Dustoff) helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War, Sampson admits to not remembering significant portions of what he did.

As he puts it: “Time has sopped up and blotted out some of the observations I thought I would never forget.” The events Sampson does remember add up to an in-depth appraisal of the ups and downs (pun intended) of a Vietnam War Dustoff pilot.  

Sampson, a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America, joined the 68th Medical Detachment (Helicopter Ambulance) in 1969, six months after the unit deployed to Chu Lai. As a newbie lieutenant and one of only a few commissioned officers in the unit, all of the non-combat administrative duties were dumped on him. He still flew missions, but it took seven months for him to reach an aircraft commander’s seat.

Flying in the Vietnam War proved to be both exceptionally rewarding and extremely dangerous, Sampson says. He tells stories about situations for which he had no training or inadequate information. He learned from mistakes that often began as creative ideas but failed in practicality, and continually calls himself to task for them.

His conflicted feelings about extreme situations such as rescuing a fellow pilot who accidentally shot himself did not finally resolve themselves until decades later. His acts of kindness such as doctoring a badly injured Vietnamese child who died practically in his arms took a heavy emotional toll. That child’s death still haunts his dreams.   

Sampson creates a nightmare of terror with his accounts of days of flying through rain, clouds, and zero visibility during the monsoon season. For a time, all aircraft were grounded except for Dustoff choppers. In the midst of that chaos, an extraordinary close call caused his crewmen to face him down with a mini-mutiny; Sampson merely walked away from them and the war continued. During that period, his crew saved lives on every mission.

A loner who did not drink or hang out at the club, Sampson was not particularly sociable. His overall view of the 68th is a group of skillful but self-centered warrant officers who did nothing but fly. Sampson’s piloting skill and willingness to help others improve their abilities earned him respect.

He challenges the necessity for the war and criticizes its execution. In closing, he honors the dead and recognizes the post-war suffering of survivors.

Arnold Sampson writes in an enjoyable, conversational style. Although many of his stories emphasize his shortcomings, the fact is that he flew 878 combat missions that evacuated 2,200 people, saving the lives of hundreds of them. 

—Henry Zeybel

Warpath by A. J. Moore

A. J. Moore unravels his dynamic Vietnam War memoir centered on flying as an E-5 scout observer in the OH-6A Cayuse helicopter—the Loach—in Warpath: One Vietnam Veteran’s Journey through War, Disillusionment, Guilt and Recovery (Apache Press Books, 296 pp. $16.99, paper; $6.99, Kindle).

In the book’s opening line, Moore declares that he “was eager to go” into the military, and “was not waiting for the draft.” Because of his father’s history as a World War II rifleman and the influence of Hollywood heroic war movies, he says, “Sitting out the [Vietnam] war was simply not an option.” He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1967 at the age of 18.

Reading about Moore’s Loach missions is spellbinding. Operating from Vinh Long with the 1st Cav in 1969, Moore experienced events beyond imagination during low-level search-and-destroy missions.

On many flights whatever could go wrong went wrong. As often as not, problems evolved from unexpected enemy action or misdirected maneuvers by Moore and his pilots. They often escaped harm by performing seemingly impossible moves that surprised even themselves.

“Among all helicopter aircrew, the Loach crews had the highest casualty rates,” Moore writes. In Army and Marine jobs, he adds, helicopter crews ranked second-highest in casualty rates only to armored personnel carrier crews.

Most of his unit’s operations took place in free-fire zones. He describes in detail the gore resulting from blasting enemy troops on the ground with gunfire, rockets, and grenades.

He confesses to killing people in free-fire zones regardless of whether they fired at his helicopter. When operating with friendly ground troops, the Loach crews did not take prisoners. Body counts measured a mission’s success.      

Basically, Moore has written a story of discovery, namely that the positive beliefs he learned as a child shattered under exposure to war’s horrors. In-country, he soon met disillusionment with two sobering realizations: First, the Vietnamese actually wanted to kill him for no reason other than he was American soldier; and second, the ARVN’s hearts were not into the effort.

Moore trained as a helicopter maintenance man and won top honors through every phase of schooling. He reflects on the progression of his training with a keen appreciation for unfamiliar behavior by the men around him. In his description of Basic Training, for example, Moore writes about crises faced by other young men more than by himself. He does the same when looking back on his maintenance and flying experiences.

A.J. Moore in-country

For four months in Vietnam he performed the seven-days-a-week “monotonous drudgery” of a helicopter mechanic under a sergeant who specialized in make-work tasks. After volunteering three times, Moore was finally reassigned to fly alongside Loach pilots as another pair of eyes. For extra life insurance, the pilots taught him how to fly the Loach. 

Coming home was difficult. He decided not to pursue a military career he had been counting on. Guilt and shame overwhelmed him. His recitation of PTSD treatment he received describes excellent programs unfamiliar to me. He eventually shared his emotional rebirth with other war veterans.

As president of VVA’s Tidewater, Virginia Chapter 48 in Norfolk, he concentrated on elevating the social status of challenged Vietnam War veterans and providing college scholarships for veterans’ children.

Warpath more than fulfills its subtitle. Al Moore shows himself to be a man of integrity: By revealing the pros and cons of his Vietnam War story, he takes the glory out of war.

—Henry Zeybel

Training and Deployment in America’s Nuclear Cold Warriors in Asia by Steve Rabson

Steve Rabson’s Training and Deployment in America’s Nuclear Cold Warriors in Asia: Keepers of Armageddon (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 150 pp. $72) is a concise memoir by a Brown University professor emeritus and Japanologist chronicling his training and deployment as an Army nuclear weapons electronics specialist in Okinawa in 1967-68.

The book emanated from an email group of several alumni of the 137th Ordnance Company, many of whose writings appear in the book, and many of whom, including the author, had their later civilian careers greatly influenced by their time in Okinawa.

How did a nice University of Michigan Jewish graduate, who majored in English and minored in music (piano), end up electronically testing nuclear warheads in a Pacific island smaller than Oahu during the Vietnam War?  He was drafted into the U.S. Army.

Rabson, who had zero electronics training, speculates that a clerk at Ft. Jackson may have accidentally typed “engg” (engineering) instead of “eng” (English) as Rabson’s college major. This seems like a plausible military explanation. He never mentions that he was unable to do his military job, but does say that to boots-on-the-ground Vietnam War veteran, his year in Okinawa during the height of the war must seem like being in a safe summer camp.

There is a condensed history of Okinawa’s wars, of nuclear weapons in general, and of the usually negative American presence on the island. Okinawa was an R&R destination for American troops, mainly due to the well-known availability of Okinawan women, which was fictionalized in Fields of Fire, James Webb’s acclaimed 1978 Vietnam War novel.

A major support base for U.S. troops in both the Vietnam and Korean wars, Okinawa had “secret” nuclear weapons that everyone in the world new about. Even though it is now governed by Japan, Okinawa, 25,000 American troops are serving there on U.S. military bases. About 100 marriages between American men and Okinawan women take place each year and there is a large expatriate American retirement community on the island.

On a 2014 visit, Rabson revisited and interviewed the Okinawan owner of Koko’s, his favorite restaurant during his tour of duty, which is now a Tex-Mex diner, as well the Okinawan general manager of the 1967 PX.

Rabson is extremely critical of the injustices and inequities imposed on local residents by the American military. Land was expropriated, arbitrarily and without adequate compensation (he calls is a “second invasion”), and native Okinawans have been treated as inferiors by Americans. Rape by American troops is not uncommon, and there are frequent local protests against the U.S. presence on the island. 

Gen. Turgidson

Although radiation may have caused serious illnesses to both Americans and Okinawans, the VA has refused to recognize any connection and has denied all such veterans’ claims. The Japanese, who now govern the island, refuse to test the soil for radiation because there can never be nuclear weapons on Japanese land.

The author’s recent visit to the Nagasaki Museum ironically highlights the fact that his military job was to help make sure that the nuclear weapons under his control were ready to be used.

Although the themes of the 1964 movie, Dr. Strangelove, permeate the book—both in the words of the author and in the mind of this reader—Training and Development contains a real-life happy ending.

No nuclear weapon stored in Okinawa was ever fired in anger and all nuclear weapons are now gone from the island and from all American overseas bases. 

Take that, Gen. “Buck” Turgidson!*

–Harvey Weiner

*The fictional, ultra-aggressive Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff played by George C. Scott in Dr. Strangelove.

Vietnam Combat: Firefights and Writing History by Robin Bartlett

It should come as no surprise that a graduate of Claremont McKenna College with a BA in Comparative Literature and who eventually made a career in publishing should write a well-written and deeply researched memoir of his six-year military career. Nor should it be a surprise—except to some of the clannish West Pointers with whom he went through Ft. Benning Jump School and Basic Officer Infantry Course—that Robin Bartlett, an ROTC liberal arts major, was an effective, brave, and committed infantry platoon leader who saw substantial combat in the Vietnam War.

Bartlett’s Vietnam Combat: Firefights and Writing History (Casemate, 299 pp. $37.95, hardcover; $15.99, Kindle) includes photographs and drawings, a military glossary, a personal timeline, a bibliography, an index, and a list of veterans organizations—although I wish he had included the Jewish War Veterans of the USA, America’s oldest active VSO.  Also, Bartlett includes to great effect many of the alternative-reality letters he wrote home from Vietnam to family and friends.

Bartlett made the drastic change from being a party planner at Ft. Bragg to being an infantry platoon leader in 1968 when he joined the 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment of the First Cavalry Division in I Corps. When he did, he recognized that his expected life span was less than 90 days. 

Of the five new platoon leaders introduced to the battalion commander to replace five who had been killed in action, Bartlett was the only one who survived his tour of duty. He writes about the fatigue, intense heat, rain, mud, death, blood, firefights, deprivation, sweat, heat stroke, dehydration, and despair that he and his men experienced during frequent four-to-six-week forays into the boonies. Some humorous events, including an exploding shit barrel and the misadventures of a hard-luck private, and some positive things, such as a Christmas party at a Catholic orphanage, lighten the book’s tone.

Bartlett completed his time in the war with five months in II Corps working in the little-known Military History Detachment at Division HQ (“You fight it, We write it”). One of his main tasks was to write a history of a particular battalion engagement that had gone wrong. That was no easy task as the battalion commander and the S-3 refused to speak to him.

Without casting blame, his draft report criticized certain operation events at command level. But Bartlett’s superior made him change the report’s title (“Battle of Parrot’s Beak”), as well as his conclusion so as to blame the heroic on-the-ground company commander who was clearly not at fault. The brass protects its own when the losers get to rewrite history.

Bartlett in-country

Bartlett is frank in his assessment of the Vietnam War (“brave solders and bad politics”) and his resulting PTSD. He says writing this book was cathartic. Although he writes that his Vietnam War service was meaningless and a waste, the reader may conclude otherwise. 

Robin Bartlett exhibited courage, performed his jobs well, cared for those who served under him, and developed leadership and organizational skills. His brother, father, and grandfather, all of whom graduated from West Point, should be proud of him.

When greeting Vietnam War veterans, “Welcome home” is the Bartlett phrase uses. I have decided to do the same rather than the trite, “Thank you for your service.”

Bartlett’s website is robinbartlettauthor.com

— Harvey Weiner

In Country by Forrest R. Lindsey

The simple fact is that Forrest R. Lindsey’s memoir— In Country: My Memories of Vietnam and After (Dorrance, 198 pp. $47, hardover; $36, paper; $34, Kindle)—is a confession. In it, Lindsey chronicles his transformation from a nearsighted, skinny 20-year-old to a dispassionate killer.

Lindsey tells his history with little interference from his ego. He mainly presents facts to the reader, and the most telling is: “I had picked up the habit of shooting whoever I hit after they went down, usually a burst of three rounds, just to make sure he stayed down.”

By the time that habit was ingrained, he had come to believe that death wasn’t that frightening and that “when you’re dead, you’re dead.”

A 1965 enlistee in the U.S. Marine Corps, Lindsey arrived in Phu Bai in January 1966 and progressed from an accident-prone 5-ton truck driver to an OJT artilleryman, a gunner, and then a scout with an Artillery Forward Observer Team as part of  Echo Company of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines. He extended his 13-month tour to move up to the scout level where, along with directing supporting artillery, he became a rifleman.

“Grunts had their own uniquely dangerous war,”  he says. They “were always active. Every single day was spent out in the field and patrolling, looking for the enemy.” Lindsey was amazed to learn that all of his fellow grunts had been wounded—many as many as three times, which automatically qualified them to go home—but they self-doctored minor wounds so they could stay with the unit.

Ignoring regulations, Lindsey continued to use an M-14 rifle after American forces converted to the M-16. More than once, Marines looked to him for the riflery magic their weapons could not provide.

Lindsey took part in 19 operations before being wounded in May 1967. He writes about a Marine attack on a suspected Viet Cong battalion headquarters that easily qualified as a walk through hell. “I won’t describe what I saw,” he says, after watching an overhead 155-mm-howitzer-round booby-trap kill a dozen Marines and wound many more.

He is less hesitant to discuss his own wound—a “comminuted fracture” from a bullet that pulverized his thigh bone into a cloud of fragments. Surgeons put him in a full body cast and saved his leg. His two years in a hospital were nearly as horrid as his time in combat except that the new enemy consisted of Navy and Air Force nurses who outranked enlisted men and haughitly ignored their needs.

Discharged from the Marine Corps when his four-year enlistment ended, Lindsey finished rehabilitating his leg, went through post-traumatic stress, enrolled in college, married, divorced, and drank too much. In 1973, the Marine Corps invited him back and commissioned him as a lieutenant. After becoming an artillery battalion commander and serving a total of 27 years, Lindsey retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1996.

He says he has no regrets for his actions in the Vietnam War, and feels strong compassion for wounded and dead Marines. “The Marine Corps exists to kill people or to be killed in the process of killing people,” he says.

Although In Country initially offers the standard war memori litany of arriving in Nam, eating C-rations, and taking cold showers, Lindsey’s recollections about his three jobs and medical treatment presented surprises and facts that were new to me.

Forest Lindsey’s experiences went well beyond what most Vietnam War veterans encountered.

—Henry Zeybel

Fort Bragg to Hué by James M. Dorn

What is it with all these lawyers who, having served in the Vietnam War, after retiring from the bar, write a war memoir and not one about their lengthy legal careers. My theory is that their short war experiences are more memorable than their decades-long practice of law. 

One of the latest such war memoirs is Fort Bragg to Hué: A Paratrooper with the 82nd and 173rd Airborne in Vietnam, 1968-1970 (McFarland, 234 pp. $29.95, hardcover; $13.49, Kindle) by retired Army Maj. James M. Dorn. In this highly readable and lucid book, Dorn chronicles his two-year Vietnam War tour of duty, during which he served in three of the war’s four Corps—all except IV Corps in the Mekong Delta.

2nd Lt. Dorn and his 82nd Airborne unit—the Third Brigade—were sent to Vietnam on an emergency deployment in February 1968. He began as a Public Information Officer running a small brigade newspaper and added Post Exchange Officer to his portfolio. After five months, he was transferred and, as an XO, commanded his battalion’s defense perimeter at night for nine months. Then he was transferred to Saigon for five months to lead a platoon defending the U.S. Embassy. 

Dorn found his niche and his love as a platoon leader. Then he was transferred to the 173rd, where, for four months, he was in command of a recon platoon. After yet another transfer, he commanded another infantry platoon for six months. Then, after turning down an offer to be a staff XO, he ran squad-size patrols as a platoon leader in the pacification program. 

Dorn spent his final months in-country as an Assistant Operations Officer at battalion HQ.  He describes all those assignments in great detail.

A 173rd Trooper in-country

The strength of the book is how Dorn conveys the boredom, fatigue, mud, rain, leeches, and the endless and exhausting days humping the boonies on patrol without contact with the enemy. He pulls no punches in his criticism of some of the decisions made by superiors, several of which led to unnecessary casualties. He was relentless in his work ethic and preparation for operations and for the safety of his men. He was creative when necessary and—when deserved—praises his superior officers.

Dorn had limited contact with the Vietnamese people, but, after politely refusing to use nuoc mam (fermented fish) sauce at the one meal he had with a Vietnamese family, I hope he has since acquired a taste for it.

Dorn recounts a USO show in which he first thought the veteran actor and World War II veteran Tom Tully was a “wino.” In the book, he belatedly offers an apology and hopes that Tully will accept. Alas, Tully, who was nominated for an Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his role in The Caine Mutiny, cannot accept because he died in 1982. 

While on that Vietnam USO tour, Tully contracted a filarial worm, which ultimately led to the amputation of his left leg, as well as to pleuritis, deafness and serious debilitation, and alll but ended his acting career.

One can never imagine the story behind the person who pops out of a chopper for a USO show.

–Harvey Weiner

A Tour of Chuong Thien Province by John Raschke

John Raschke’s A Tour of Chuong Thien Province: A U.S. Army Lieutenant with MACV Advisory Team 73 in the Mekong Delta,1969-1970 (McFarland, 238 pp. $29.95, paperback) tells the remarkable story of a young second lieutenant’s 10-and-half month tour as part of a MACV advisory team in one of the most dangerous—if not the most dangerous–provinces of the 44 in South Vietnam. Raschke, a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America, grew up on an Illinois farm, was one of ten children in a house with no indoor plumbing, and educated in a one-room schoolhouse. 

His book is well written and is as much a history as a war memoir. Considering that Rascke kept a diary only of his combat operations and that he waited almost fifty years to begin the book, the level of detail and recall in it is extraordinary. It is supported by substantial research, endnotes, a glossary, a “what happened to them” section, and an index. 

The contribution of this book to Vietnam War military history is Raschke’s documentation of the role of U.S. military advisers to the South Vietnamese. Each adviser had a separate role from other members of his 50-person advisory team and each role required training, initiative, and judgment. John Raschke had all of these qualities, well beyond his years. I know—I was his hooch mate. 

Raschke was the engineer adviser, but when he realized his more experienced Vietnamese engineer counterpart didn’t often need his advice, he made himself useful to the Team and the war effort by volunteering to take part in many combat operations. He was so effective in the latter role that the Province Senior Advisor officially switched Raschke’s duty position for a month so that he could qualify for the Combat Infantryman Badge, his proudest decoration and one he richly deserved.

Among Raschke’s many combat operations was his heroic rescue under intense enemy fire of a fellow Team member who had been shot six times, including a bullet in his heart and one in his head. He miraculously survived and Rascke (and I) visited him a few days later in the Can Tho hospital. A mason jar with six bullets inside sat at his bedside.

The book emphasizes the warm relationship between the American Team members and the South Vietnamese. To the Team, they were not “gooks” or “slopes” or “the other,” but rather close friends and equals. They were combat buddies.

John Raschke spent decades trying to locate members of the Team, including those who were members when he was not there. The Team existed for nine years. The book discusses the seven reunions Raschke has organized since 2009, their cathartic and healing aspects, and the new and renewed friendships that have resulted. 

The first reunion in 2009 included the first meeting between Raschke and the soldier he rescued from the rice paddy since we saw him in the Can Tho hospital 40 years earlier.

In Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, the fictional narrator recreates his youth as filtered through his subsequent life experiences and accumulated wisdom. In a sense, John Raschke does the same in this book, but with a humility and a modesty that Proust’s narrator lacked.

Looking back, Raschke understates what he did, and that makes the book even more compelling.

–Harvey Weiner

MASH Doctor in Vietnam: by Reuel S. Long

Reuel Long has lived a highly challenging life. In the Vietnam War as an anesthesiologist, sometimes surgeon, and too-frequently a soul-blistering, life-or-death triage doctor, he dealt with more gore and destruction than any human being should have to endure. His compassion for the troops he treated taught him to detest leaders such as President Richard Nixon who prosecuted the war despite preaching otherwise.

Long tells his life story in MASH Doctor in Vietnam: A Memoir of the War and After (McFarland, 227 pp. $29.95, paperback; $13.49, Kindle). He begins by unfolding his experiences as a young man and progressed to the present time with an emphasis on his work treating people with combat wounds. 

Long smoothly describes his medical training and his initial jobs in emergency rooms that prepared him for his medical responsibilities as an “obligated volunteer” (draftee) in and around Chu Lai and Da Nang during his 1970-71 Vietnam War tour of duty. At the 27th MASH unit and then the 95th Evacuation Hospital, he handled countless offbeat situations that built on each other. During that year, his life held no dull moments.

He provided anesthesia for amputations and eviscerations and laparotomies for bowel perforations and bleeding, as well as debridements of fragmentation wounds, and craniotomies. Case after case of unsightly mutilations depressed him. As he says: “All of us honed our skills and got very efficient at our tasks, but at a terrible price.”

Long more than captures the trauma of the time with stories such as a soldier begging doctors not to amputate his legs; a shattered man with half of a body striking a nurse so he can be left alone to die; and the image of a torso hacked by spinning helicopter rotor blades.

For Long’s MASH team, the destruction of bodies reached a climax when the North Vietnamese Army attacked Fire Support Base Mary Ann on March 28, 1971, killing 30 Americans and wounded nearly 80. Overwhelmed by the number of casualties and threatened by rocket attacks, doctors and other medical personnel wore helmets and flak jackets in the operating rooms.   

Since the war, Long has concentrated on doctoring and fatherhood, which he talks about at length. He has worked and lived primarily in his hometown of Flint, Michigan. Forty-four years after the war, Long met and befriended Jim Dehlin, a double-amputee he had helped recover after being serverely wonded in a booby-trap explosion in Vietnam. Long includes a mini-memoir of Dehlin with many photographs about the former lieutenant’s highly successful post-war life.

Vietnam War MASH hospital medical personnel waiting for casualties

Taking a last look at events from a half century gone by, the final chapter of MASH Doctor in Vietnam offers a tell-all account of the jamming problem of the U.S. Army’s M-16 rifle. Metallurgist Dan Sebastian helped Long with his insider knowledge of the issue. Although Sebastian’s information was classified, the two men decided it should be publicized even at this late date. Long cites the case as an example of governmental mismanagement that needlessly cost the lives of American fighting men.

I enjoyed the book because, in thirty years of both military and civilian medical duties, Reuel Long accepted challenges beyond the norm and solved problems by improvising solutions. His independent character favored his patients above the medical administrators, and he freely shared his skills and time among the needy.       

–Henry Zeybel

A Different Military Life by Stephen Frushour

Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Stephen Frushour strings together countless engaging anecdotes in his colorful memoir A Different Military Life: Interesting Short Stories from 12418 Days of Service (226 pp., $8.50, paperback). Frushour guides the reader through virtually every step of a military career that spanned four decades. It begins with with his plebe year at West Point in the fall of 1964, and moves through his service as an artillery officer in the Vietnam War and his transition to becoming an orthopedic surgeon in the Army and then the Air Force.

Anyone even remotely familiar with the four years of training and service at the United States Military Academy likely knows that the first year—the Plebe year—can be the most difficult. Upperclassmen inspect every aspect of the new cadet’s life; demerits are handed out for the slightest infraction. Whether a cadet’s uniform is not impeccably turned out, or a bed is not perfectly made, the opportunities are endless.

But, as with other elements in his life, Frushour finds a quiet humor in it all, offering the reader reasonable questions: Exactly how is it possible to have clean laundry improperly placed in a clean laundry bag? Why is it necessary that a cadet design his own guide to refer to when he is ordered to slice a cake into seven pieces of exactly the same size? The purpose, of course, is to instill in the cadet habits of precision that must soon become instinct—a given for anyone training to become an artillery officer.

In Vietnam, the newly minted lieutenant was assigned as a Forward Observer, Fire Direction Officer, and Air Observer with C Battery of the 1st Battalion/27th Field Artillery Regiment in from February 1969 to February 1970. He Frushour makes plain for the reader two key aspects of a mobile unit he was part of that this reviewer was previously unaware of. First, despite their appearance, tracked vehicles’ resemblance to tanks is misleading. Unlike a tank, the vehicle’s aluminum construction makes it vulnerable to enemy fire, and requires extra vigilance by the crew when going into action.

One harrowing event Frushour recounts occurs when, on returning from a combat assignment, the brakes of one track failed. In order to stay on the road, the driver often had to rotate the vehicle as much as two hundred-seventy degrees. When it finally broke down,  Frushour offers a gripping account of he and his men finding themselves trapped and outnumbered in enemy territory waiting for help that they thought would never arrive.

Like many such accounts, Frushour provides context with each anecdote. Yet, at the same time, he requires the reader to be familiar with military strategy and the political landscape of the war in Vietnam. The work also would benefit from stronger editing, especially with formatting and spelling.

But these are minor missteps when considering the colorful journey Steve Frushour brings to us as he leaves Vietnam for Germany, and then returns to U.S., as well as his transition from soldier to surgeon, and from the Army to the Air Force.

This is account of a life well lived is as enjoyable as it is edifying.

–Mike McLaughlin

Hail and Farewell by Frank Jodaitis

Frank Jodaitis’s Hail and Farewell: A Vietnam Era Memoir (BookBaby, 656 pp., $26.99, paper; $7.99, Kindle) is a prodigious effort by a first-time author. Jodaitis adroitly blurs the line between memoir and fiction with this first-person account of his adventures before, during, and after his 1969-70 Army Engineering tour of duty in the Vietnam War. The post-war chapters tend to devolve into minutia regarding people, places, and occurrences, but continue to tell his story.

Jodaitis, a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America, starts by describing his college days at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. In 1967, he graduated with a Civil Engineering degree and an ROTC commission as a U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant. The book’s title refers to the social gatherings that signaled the welcomings and departures of fellow officers in the commands in which he served.

Through a series of assignments, locations and commands, Jodaitis brings the reader along as a passenger—and at times as a confidant—as he navigates the places and personalities he encountered during his time in the war. An abundance of dialogue drives the narrative.

As the chapters unwind, Jodaitis tends to close a good number of them with a bit of editorializing and introspection. These asides make for an interesting read and a deeper understanding of his frequently almost-morose takes on his surroundings. At times, some of today’s events factor into his musings.

A constant thread is his wartime ebbing and flowing relationship with a girl back home, including with her changing attitudes about the war. Suffice it so it was not a happy time. Jodaitis uses his Epilogue to bring some of his relationships up to date, tie up the book, and make plain his feelings about the war.

In all, this is an interesting, albeit at times overly detailed, book that is not exactly a quick read but a deeper one than many other Vietnam War memoirs.

–Tom Werzyn