Military Book Reviews

Valentine’s Day by Charles A. Van Bibber

Valentine’s Day by Charles A. Van Bibber

In the late nineteen sixties, the author made a life-altering journey that led him out of Texas and into the U.S. Marine Corps and eventually into the jungles of Vietnam as a machine gunner during the tumultuous year 1968.   'Valentine's Day' (so named because Van Bidder's unit, 2nd Battalion, 27th Marine Regiment, departed Camp Pendleton for Vietnam on February 14, 1968) is a very excellent read.  What makes it so is the straightforward accounting by the author on the horror, boredom, camaraderie, humor, heroism he witnessed. He also is brutally honest about his own discomfort with war in general. However, this is not just an account of Marines in combat; it's also looks at changes in participants affected by war. This is true of every war that has ever been waged. For the warriors of old and those veterans of Vietnam and the Middle East, the war touched their lives forever, leaving an indelible mark in their hearts and minds. Van Bibber's book reflects this reality...

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Backtracking in Brown Water by Rolland E. Kidder

Backtracking in Brown Water by Rolland E. Kidder

The market is flooded with books written about Vietnam. Many follow the same path in their storytelling, beginning with their youth, entry into the military, their war experiences, returning home, and how they feel today about that journey. This book does some of that, but it is different in more ways. The author takes us on a voyage spanning his wartime service as a U.S. Navy patrol boat officer in Vietnam's Mekong Delta to his recent return trip to Vietnam and finally, to the most poignant and memorable part of his story, visiting the families and graves of three friends and fellow combatants. The nexus of the book came from an article written by the author for Naval History magazine and published in 2010. But through that process of research and pouring over a journal he kept during his Vietnam tour of duty, the memories of those three men, James Rost and Eldon Tozer, both Navy patrol boat officers and Robert Olson, an Army advisor working with Vietnamese soldiers, kept popping...

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Missions of Fire and Mercy: Until Death Do us Part by William E. Peterson

Missions of Fire and Mercy: Until Death Do us Part by William E. Peterson

At the age of 19, William E. Peterson embarked upon a life mission which many would gladly have missed. He went to war in Vietnam! In this 302 page book he brings to life his journey from his decision to enlist in the Army, through twelve months of helicopter combat, to his return home. It takes the reader on a wild ride with a helicopter crew chief and door gunner with the First Air Cavalry, C/227th Assault Helicopter Battalion. The typical memoir written by a Vietnam veteran begins with a short accounting of his youth and ends with his homecoming. Sandwich between is a detailed rendering of the serious, heartbreaking nature of war: fear, tragedy, loss, sorrow, growth, and relief interlaced with nature's emotional shutoff valve, humor. While Peterson's Mission of Fire and Percy does much of the same things, his writing has much greater clarity since it is drawn from scores of letters he send home to his family, friends and girlfriend Cindi. He adds anecdotal recollections to what he...

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Black Ops Vietnam By Robert M. Gillespie

Black Ops Vietnam By Robert M. Gillespie

Have you read "Black Ops Vietnam" By Robert M. Gillespie? During the Vietnam War, the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observations Group (MACVSOG) was a highly-classified. It was a US joint-service organization that consisted of personnel from Army Special Forces, the Air Force Special Operations Forces, Navy SEALs, Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance units, and the CIA.  This secret organization was committed to action in Southeast Asia even before the major build-up of US forces in 1965 and fielded a division-sized element of South Vietnamese military personnel, indigenous Montagnards, ethnic Chinese Nungs, and Taiwanese pilots in its varied reconnaissance, naval, air, and agent operations.  MACVSOG was, without doubt, the most unique US unit to participate in the Vietnam War, since its operational mandate authorized its missions to take place "over the fence" in North Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, where most other American units were forbidden to go. During its...

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