...Surviving Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division, from Casemate Books
Title: Nam Sense
Author: Arthur Wiknik Jr.
Publisher: Casemate Books
This new paperback makes interesting reading for anyone with an interest in the Vietnam War. The author was drafted at the age of 19 and by the time he was 20 he was sent to serve for a year in Vietnam. Before going, and in the hope of minimising his time there, he attended a course so he was made up to Sergeant and would therefore be in charge of a squad once he got there. That made him what was known as a 'shake 'n' Bake' NCO. He recognised that he would have to earn the respect of his men as soon as he got there. His clear aim was to survive his year at war, and for as many of his men to do so as well.
He tells us of his enlistment and training, his journey to Vietnam and arrival with his new unit. He goes on to give what I felt was a very honest account of his year 'in-country'. He found friends, he made one or two enemies, and was intolerant of those who endangered his and his mens' safety. He fought in famous battles at Hamburger Hill and in the A Shau Valley. He tells of what it was like to be in ambush positions in the jungle at night, being in combat with the North Vietnamese, of transport by helicopter and C130, and of seeing his comrades killed. Equally we hear how he found the local Vietnamese people and 'living' in the firebases and jungle of the country.
The author is quite honest about his feelings, his behaviours and his actions. His occasional conflict with fellow NCOs, how he got on with periods of rest and relaxation away from the 'boonies'. Making best use of the opportunities for 'ghosting' before getting back to the front line. No drugs use but it also includes how he reacted to the reports of opposition to the war from home in America, and his experience of getting home at the end of his tour, when no-one would sit near him in the airport.
For anyone with an interest in the Vietnam war this is just the kind of personal account I find so interesting to read. Not just a sequence of events, but how he felt.
Thanks to Casemate Books, who kindly provided my review copy.