Book Review

A long time ago, I included a Goodreads widget to highlight books, fiction and non, about the Vietnam War and realized that I had not read any. Oops. So, here are my reviews of three books.


A fantastic read and a must-read. I was drawn into the book and read every word. Published in 1977, this book encapsulates the experiences (both real and imagined) of the author who was a war correspondent for Esquire magazine during the Vietnam War, from 1967-69. The frenetic stream of consciousness writing style fits so well with the pace of the war and the story as it unfolds.

The author also contributed to the screenplays of Vietnam War movies, Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket (Source).



Published in 1990, this fictional account of American soldiers in Vietnam focuses on what they carry with them throughout the war, not just their gear, but also small tokens and trinkets that symbolize home, their lives before the war, and their humanity.

I wish I would’ve asked my dad what he had carried with him, such a simple question too.



I’ll forego my opinion of this book and leave you with my dad’s thoughts on it. He considered this book, published in 1987, to be the best book on the 1st Cav in Vietnam, without exception.















One thought on “Book Review

  1. Joe Lee Galloway ” THIS WAR WE CAN’T WIN” March 1965 with the Marines ,I was( disabused )of that notion pretty early on with the( Marines.)

    Joe Lee Galloway “I speak for the Vietnam Veteran.”

    Joe Lee Galloway ” THIS WAR WE CAN’T WIN” March 1965 with the Marines ,I was(disabused )

    of that notion pretty early on with the( Marines.)

    disabuse = Free from Error, Fallacy or Misconception.

    JOE LEE GALLOWAY two faced.

    You thought that, but couldn’t say it in your reporting?

    Joe Lee Galloway ” This war we can’t win.”

    worked for UPI. We were not paid to have an opinion and if we did we were to keep it to ourselves.

    I And for me, there was the other thing. I thought, “ This war we can’t win.”

    Interview with Joe Galloway: Soldier’s Reporter Speaks His Mind


    “I wish I had written a story so powerful about Ia Drang that it would have driven LBJ to withdraw.” (Photo courtesy of Chuck Kennedy/Knight Ridder Newspaper)

    Just months after 23-year-old reporter Joe Galloway got to Vietnam, he found himself with Lt. Col. Hal Moore and his beleaguered 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment at Ia Drang. The epic Nov. 1965 battle, where Galloway took up arms to save soldiers’ lives—for which he received a Bronze Star with V Device—forged a deep friendship between the two men.

    You were born just before Pearl Harbor. Did WWII have an impression on you?
    I did not meet my father until the end of 1945. He was gone to war, as were five of his brothers and four of my mother’s brothers.
    ———-plagiarized from Ernie Pyle works
    Joe Lee Galloway So my earliest memories are of living in houses full of frightened women, peering out the

    window for the telegram man. It kind of sensitizes you to that stuff. I was young,

    but I followed the Korean War too.

    I well remember a local boy, a Marine killed in Korea, coming home to a hero’s funeral.
    From Ernie Pyle’s War page 10

    Thad Hooker permited to leave school early in 1918 to join up, At the high school commencement that

    spring, a flag-draped chair took Thad’s place among the graduating seniors.

    Were you destined to be a war reporter?
    I had read Ernie Pyle’s columns and his collected work and I thought if a war comes along in my generation,

    I want to cover it. And preferably as Pyle covered his war.

    How does a kid reporter in the Midwest get to cover Vietnam?

    I thought it was be a big war and I’ve got to see and experience this. I thought, it’s coming, and it’s my

    generation’s war and I’m going to be there, come hell or high water.

    I’d actually been working to get there since 1963.

    I just started writing a letter each week to my bosses, explaining why they should send me to Vietnam.

    Well, you know, right after the 1964 election was over, I got a call from my boss asking if you have a trench coat. I didn’t know what he was talking about and I said no. He said, “Well you better buy one, because you’ve been transferred to Tokyo.” It was the UPI Asia headquarters, so at least I was propositioned for Vietnam. So I got out there in November 1964, and the first thing I did was put in for a transfer to Saigon. The chief laughed at me and said “I just sent a second man to Saigon. There’s no way in the world we’ll need any more than that.” I said, “Well, we’ll see.”

    Your wish didn’t take long to come true?

    The Marines landed in March 1965, and they had to start shuffling people in, and I came along a few weeks

    later, in April. They shipped me in and I had two days in Saigon and then I was off to cover the Marines.

    I cut my teeth on the Marines and made every operation in I Corps—I even made a combat amphibious

    assault landing.

    How long before reality set in?
    I was disabused of that notion pretty early on with the Marines.

    I hadn’t even got to the black market to get fatigues and combat boots. ( stolen gov. property )

    We landed in Quang Tri city.

    It was under so much heavy enemy pressure that the Americans would fly in to operate in the day but flew

    back out at night back to Da Nang.

    We got off that bird and Huet ran over to a Marine UH-34, talked to the crew chief and then waved at me to

    get on this thing.

    I still didn’t know where we were going but were off and soon we were circling a hill in the middle of a rice


    ————–From Ernie Pyle’s book brave Men
    I could see concentric rings of fighting holes and people in them.

    So we dropped down and landed, and the guy shut down the engine.

    When he did, there was literally dead silence on that hill and there was a battalion of South Vietnamese all


    These guys hadn’t had time to dig a proper foxhole, but just to scrape out a little depression.

    Their hands were out like they were still holding rifles, but all the rifles were gone.

    We were there to pick up the bodies of the two American advisers.

    I then began to wonder just how long this might war might take. It didn’t seem to be going our way

    But, you were confident we could defeat the Viet Cong?

    Well, at that moment I knew they were damn good local guerrilla boys.( Joe Lee Galloway praising the


    Joe Lee Galloway’s true fillings about the Vietnam Veteran.

    ” Damed if I’d want to go for a walk in the sun with them.

    “BLACK GI’s going thru long involved BLACK POWER identification rituals.”

    Joe Lee Galloway “I speak for the Vietnam Veteran.”


    ” Damed if I’d want to go for a walk in the sun with them.”

    “Black GI’s going thru long involved black power identification rituals.”


    Here dead we lie

    Because we did not choose

    To live and shame the land

    from which we sprung

    Life to be sure

    Joe Lee Galloway

    “Once we fought this war well, NOW WE FIGHT IT POORLY.”

    from Hal Moore A Soldier ……Once and Always by MIKE GUARDIA page 171-172

    Joseph Lee Galloway, According to the Geneva Convention, Knew as a Reporter, he was classed, As a

    NONCOMBATANT, and not allowed to carry a weapon of any kind

    You also had to be a soldier.
    Joe Lee Galloway, Only on occasion, when it got so intense that I thought my helping would make a


    And I have no apologies.

    It really pissed me off to have people shooting at me.

    You know, they gave reporters these lovely little ID cards, and in the tiniest print it said that I was a civilian

    noncombatant with the equivalent rank of major in the U.S. Army, and if I fall into the hands of the enemies

    of the U.S. I’m to be afforded all the privileges they would afford a major in the army.

    You know your chances of waving that card at some guy with a bayonet on his AK coming at you are not

    very good at all.( I figured, they didn’t sign up for the Geneva Convention and I didn’t either. )


    Joe Lee Galloway with STOLEN Army Gear, Weapon, Ammo,Jungle Boots,Fatigues. He also stole C Rations

    to eat.

    More stolen Army gear
    I had my new M-16 rifle on my shoulder,

    20 full magazines in my pack.

    I also carried these things: two full canteens on a pistol belt. A sheathed bayonet.

    My pack contained the magazines for the rifle.

    C-rations for a couple of days.

    A fist-sized lump of C-4 plastic explosive,

    Strapped beneath my pack

    was a nylon poncho liner rolled inside an Army rubber coated poncho;

    on its side man entrenching tool.

    Joe Lee Galloway did not rescue Jimmy nakayama. He was ask to help load Jimmy in the Huey.

    Joe Lee Galloway was with Gen Knowles on the 14 Nov 1965. that means he wasn’t at Catecha with Brown.

    Joe Lee Galloway wasn’t with Brown when the Sky Raider crashed.

    Brig. Gen. Richard Knowles, deputy commander of the air cavalry division, OFFERED ME A RIDE IN HIS


    WE CIRCLED OVER THE BATTLE GROUND. Air strikes went in below us. An American A1E skyraider was

    hit on a low- level bombing run, and the pilot had no chance to bail out. The plane crashed and

    exploded in a cluster of trees.

    IF YOU WANT A GOOD FIGHT… Original story of Vietnam . By Joe Lee Galloway

    Which became We Were Soldiers Once and Young.

    From Brian Siddall airborne in normandy

    Contact BN Siddall @
    Tel: (315) 567-4542
    Airborne In Normandy Research
    PO Box 3897
    Ithaca, NY 14852
    Send an e-mail

    Click to access galloway_101_and_napalm_1965_01_16.pdf

    Joseph Lee Galloway’s original story of Landing Zone X-RAY Nov,14-16, 1965

    Twenty JAMESTOWN ( N.Y. ) POST- JOURNAL- Wednesday Evening,November 17,1965



    Chu Pong Mountain, South Viet Nam ( UPI )—- The soldiers eyes were red from loss of sleep, and maybe a bit

    from crying too, now that it was all over.

    A three-day growth of beard stubbled his cheeks. But was hard to see because of the dirt. He was hurt, in terrible

    pain, but you’d never know it. Slivers of shrapnel had ripped his chest and spared his leg.

    He sat on the landing zone below the Chu Pong mountain where more Americans had died than ever before in

    a battle against Communists in a war over Viet Nam. He had gone through hell — three days of it— and still a

    bit dazed, more from lack of sleep then his wounds, though. When I walked up to him, he spoke, But not to me

    in particular, nor to the other guys sitting around sipping the first hot cup of coffee they had since the fight


    Loses a Friend
    ” I took care of 14 of ’em myself,” He said. “They were tough little bastards. You had to shoot them to pieces

    before they quit coming . . . just rip them apart.”

    I squatted on my heels waiting for him to say more, But he didn’t. Somebody told me he had lost half of his

    platoon, including a friend he had served with for more than eight years. “What is his name?” I ask.

    ” It’s not important,” the sergeant slouching nearby said. “He’s just one of us and he did a damn good job.”

    Everyone did a damn good job. And nobody knew it better than Gen. Knowles, task force commander and

    deputy commander of the 1st Air Cavalry.

    “These men were just great,” he told me. “They were absolutely tremendous. I’ve never seen a better job

    anywhere, anytime,”

    Back From Battle
    Monday another American soldier walked out of the jungle into the valley of death. Bullets whizzed over his

    head and kicked up dirt at his feet.

    ” Get down you fool!” We shouted.

    The GI kept walking, He carried no weapon, He walked straight and tall.

    A mortar shell exploded nearby, He didn’t waver, Shrapnel chopped off branches above my head. But the

    American out there in the open came on until he was within a few feet of the battalion command bunker. He

    looked funny, dazed.

    Then we knew, he was shell shocked. He paused for a moment and looked around. He recognized the aid

    station set up under the trees and walked toward it.

    Just as the soldier reached the station he slumped to his knees, then pitched forward on his face, That is when

    we saw his back for the first time.

    It wasn’t pretty, It had been blown open by a communist mortar.

    Medics were unable to reach the soldier because of the almost solid wall of communist bullets and jagged steel

    fragments coming from the jungle. So he walked out, The bullets and mortar did not bother him anymore, He

    had his.

    Veterans Cried
    The men of the U.S. 1st Air Cavalry fought like heroes. They died the same way, Some took their wounds

    without a whimper. Seasoned Veterans cried.

    Col. Hal Moore of Bardstown, Ky., the commanding officer of the 7th Battalion, 1st cavalry, Came over to me,

    tears streaming down his face, His men were catching from the slopes of this mountain range less than five

    miles from the Cambodian border.

    I’m kind of emotional about this, so excuse me,” Moore said to me. “But I want you to tell the American people

    that these men are fighters.

    “Look at them.”

    Moore pointed to a Negro soldier lying in the shade of a tree. A Communist bullet had torn a huge hole in his

    stomach. The soldier had his hands over the wound. You could see him bite his lip. He was in terrific pain, But

    he made no whimper as he waited for a medical helicopter.

    ” Look at them,” Moore said again. ” They’re great and the American people ought to know it.”

    It was shortly after 8:30 a.m. Monday when one of those terrible accidents of war happened.

    I was sitting in the command bunker, A mound of dirt screening us from the communist snipers, looking at the

    wounded in the aid station just a few yards away.

    Suddenly, I felt a searing heat on my face.

    An American fighter-bomber had misjudged the Communist positions, and dropped a load of napalm. The

    flaming jelly gasoline, impossible to shake or scrape off once it hits skin, splashed along the ground in a huge

    dragon’s tail of fire less then 25 yards away.

    Screams penetrated the roar of the flames. two Americans stumbled out of the inferno. Their hair burned off in

    an instant. their clothes were incinerated.

    ” Good God!” Moore cried. Another plane was making a run over the same area. The colonel grabbed a radio.

    ” You’re dropping napalm on us!” he shouted. ” Stop those damn planes.”

    At almost the last second, the second plane pulled up and away, its napalm tanks still hanging from the wings.

    It was an hour before a medical helicopter could get into the area and tend to the two burned men. One GI was

    a huge mass of blisters, the other not quite so bad. Somehow his legs had escaped the flames. But he had

    breathed fire into his lungs and he wheezed for air.





    Chu Pong Mountain rises 2,500 feet from the valley below. From the top, you could almost lob a mortar shell

    into Cambodia. The mountain slope were heavily jungled. And they hid at least two battalions of North

    Vietnamese Army regulars—- possibly the same troops who pinned down two companies of air cavalrymen not

    far away about a week ago.

    The cavalry were looking for them, spoiling for a fight. They found the Communist Monday and dropped by

    helicopter into a small landing zone about the size of a football field at the base of the mountain on the valley


    One platoon got about 300 yards up the mountain before the Communist opened up. From Behind, cut it off

    and fired on the main cavalry force from three sides with small arms, heavy machine-guns, and mortars.

    Time and again, the cavalrymen tried to move in and help the platoon’ pull back, It was futile. The fire was to

    heavy. The platoon spent the night on the mountainside. Their losses were heavy, but the damage to the

    Communist was said to be heavier.

    “We got 70 communist bodies stacked up in front of our positions,” the platoon leader radioed back Monday.

    Men Dying

    It was shortly before noon Sunday when the cavalrymen swept down in the area about 12 miles west of Pleiku.

    Ever since the nine day battle around the Special Forces camp at Plei Me, the cavalrymen have been

    sweeping the jungles and running into sporadic contact with hard-core Communist units.

    Brig. Gen. Richard Knowles, deputy commander of the air cavalry division, OFFERED ME A RIDE IN HIS


    WE CIRCLED OVER THE BATTLE GROUND. Air strikes went in below us. An American A1E skyraider was hit

    on a low- level bombing run, and the pilot had no chance to bail out. The plane crashed and exploded in a

    cluster of trees.

    Men are dying down there, but they are doing their job. “This is good,” Knowles said.” This is what we came for.

    We’ve got a U.S. battalion well -equipped down there.”

    Many Dead
    I got my chance to join the men on the ground about 8 P.M. I went with a helicopter loaded with supplies and


    we were level with the middle of the mountain and in the darkness we could see the muzzle flashes of rifles

    and machine-gun spitting bullets at us. I said a prayer.

    Sgt.Maj. Basil Plumley of Columbus, Ga., met us at the landing zone, and led me back to Col. Moore’s

    command bunker.

    ” Watch your step,” Plumley said, ” There were dead people, all over here.” They were dead Americans many

    wrapped in ponchos.

    At Day break Monday, Medical helicopters began landing and taking off again with the wounded.

    A detail was assign the job of collecting weapons and ammunition from the wounded before they were



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