Valor in Vietnam 1963-1977...

...Chronicles of Honor, Courage and Sacrifice, from Casemate Books

Title:  Valor in Vietnam 1963-1977

Author: Allen B Clark

Publisher:  Casemate Books

ISBN:  978-1-61200-714-4

This is a collection of 19 personal accounts of individual experiences from those who spent time involved in the Vietnam War between 1963 and 1977. So this involves Special Forces involvement even before the more direct landings of US Marines in 1965, and what happened for some even after the eventual fall of Saigon in 1975. There are accounts from officers and troopers, even 1 nurse. We hear what it was like to experience combat in the jungle, helicopter warfare, pilots, a Medic and in the Brown Water Navy Swift Boats in the Mekong Delta. Even the work in the Phoenix Programme is included.

The description of fighting in the Ia Drang Valley I felt particularly  moving, as was the later account of a life as a US POW from Captain (later Colonel) Harold Kushner. He was captured on 2 December 1967 and only released on 16 March 1973, a total of 1,931 days in captivity, and a description which is hard to read in some ways. At the end of the war there is the story of the American evacuation of Saigon, those famous scenes of helicopters taking people off the Embassy roof as the NVA troops took the city.  Most also have the leadership lessons that could be drawn from these events.  Most striking perhaps though are the human elements of the story, and how these experiences made someone 'feel'.  Despite their experiences in combat in Vietnam, the treatment of veterans when they returned home was not as welcoming as many might have expected. The anti-war feelings of many back home were clearly a cause of disappointment for some.  How they dealt with what we commonly refer to as PTSD these days hardly bears thinking about.

As someone who went through his youth seeing and hearing the daily news items on the Vietnam War, I find this another very interesting book to read on the conduct of the war, and how individuals played their parts in the course of the war. For anyone with an interest in the history of the Vietnam War, I am confident to recommend this as well worth reading.

Published by Casemate Books, who kindly provided my review copy.