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Rockets, Sand and Amalgam by Robert Engelmeier

Webster’s Dictionary defines amalgam as “a mixture or blend”, making it the perfect word to describe Vietnam veteran Robert Engelmeier’s experience in country, as well as his 2023 memoir of it. 

The author has written countless academic articles about his chosen career in dentistry and prosthetics as a retired professor who directed the graduate program at the University of Texas Houston Dental Branch for 14 years and served as Prosthodontic Department chair at the University of Pittsburgh and is still a visiting Professor at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Simply put, he knows dentistry well. 

What he didn’t know when he arrived in Vietnam was life in the U.S. military. As a result, the recollections in his memoirs are filled with stories and incidents from his time there, where his ignorance of military protocol occasionally got him into a bit of trouble. Engelmeier was a young dentist when he deployed to South Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay. He was a fresh graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine. 


“Rockets, Sand and Amalgam” Is Not a Traditional Story

His book gives readers the perspective of someone prepared to serve U.S. troops with fillings, extractions, and general dentistry and saw much more than he expected. Engelmeier spent 24 years in the Air Force and came to the 483rd U.S. Air Force Hospital just three months after graduating from dental school. 

Like its author, “Rockets, Sand and Amalgam” is anything but a traditional military story. Engelmeier writes from the perspective of the men in the “rear,” offering an insightful look at how the military functions and operates from the perspective of support personnel. Both military veterans and those who work in the world of dentistry will love some of his “fish-out-of-water” stories, but veterans who served in Vietnam may get a kick out of recalling visits to the rear – and their military dentist.  

“Rockets, Sand and Amalgam” is available at Barnes and Noble or Amazon now. Ebook editions start at $8.99, while paperbacks are $16.99, and hardcovers are available for $21.99.


Tags: 483rd U.S. Air Force Hospital, MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Robert Engelmeier, University of Pittsburgh, University of Texas Houston Dental Branch, Vietnam


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