This is What Hell Looks Like...

…Life as a Bomb Disposal Specialist During the Vietnam War , from Fonthill Media

Title: This is What Hell Looks Like
Author: Stuart Allan Steinberg

Publisher: Fonthill Media
ISBN: 978-1-62545-065-4


If you have an interest in the Vietnam War, as I do, I am certain you will find this new hardback book from Fonthill Media a fascinating read, I certainly did.  Amidst an army career that included working as an EOD specialist who tackled old and dangerous chemical weapon stocks at home in the USA before spending 18 months in Vietnam, later returning home to eventually work on nuclear weapons as well.  This though is the story of his 18 months in Vietnam, a time which has had a significant impact on the rest of his life.

The book actually starts with the authors time at Firebase Rifle in Vietnam.  This involved both NVA attacks, casualties on both sides, tasks for dealing with unexploded ordnance and an event he witnessed which burnt into his memory.  Then it turns back to his earlier days and how he came to join the army, and found himself working at the Dugway Proving Ground, where he found himself dealing with a variety of rather nasty chemical weapons, and the aftermath of a major accident.  After that he tells us of his arrival in Vietnam.  The story goes on to his various bases in his first year, which included having to deal with some very dangerous situations after a number of attacks on a large ammunition dump at Qui Nhon where his small team of specialists found themselves working amidst a number of pads while others were exploding around them, sending even more damaged and unexploded ordnance around them.

There are of course many other stories, some of which he 'rediscovered' by reading official records, sometimes with events he had not even remembered.

The tasks they had to work on varied from not just enemy unexploded bombs/rockets, but also American bombs and artillery that had failed to go off.  Other times it was mines that even included some old minefields left over from the French involvement back in the 1950s. One of the jobs he describes is how to deal with a stoppage in the US 40mm M79 Grenade Launcher, the 'blooper'.  Not a method I would have liked to try, but it worked.  Of course there is much more, from driving out in a jeep to answer a call, even down insecure roads, and others going in by helicopter.  The result of his experiences, where he saw things that no-one would really want to see and little surprise that he has had to cope with PTSD and substance abuse after his experiences.  It is only now, many years later that he is managing to come to terms with things, and has spent a considerable time with helping fellow vets and working as part of the EOD Veterans Association in the US.  Well worth a read for anyone with an interest in the Vietnam War and the effect it had on so many veterans.

Thanks to Fonthill Media for this review copy.