I am so delighted today to provide a review for you by the C.E. at my blog stop for The Other Vietnam War: A Helicopter Pilot’s Life in Vietnam by Marc Cullison on Sage’s Blog Tours.
- Print Length: 290 pages
- Publisher: Imzadi Publishing, LLC
- Publication Date: May 10, 2015
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- ISBN-10: 0990846539
- ISBN-13: 978-0990846536
- ASIN: B00XI1T7F2
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank – #242 in Kindle eBooks, Biographies & Memoirs, Historical, Military & Wars, Vietnam War
Each of us who served in Vietnam was the guy next door, the average Joe, not a hero. The boy who might date your daughter or sister. The young man who might mow your yard. In Vietnam, we weren’t out to be heroes. We just did our jobs.
For a helicopter pilot, each day was like all the others. You flew the mission and never stopped to think that it might be your last. You didn’t think about the bullet holes in the helicopter, the cracks in the tail boom, or about any of it until night, lying in bed when you couldn’t think of anything else.
The Other Vietnam War is the story of the introduction to a new country, a backward culture, the perils of a combat zone, and the effects on a young lieutenant fresh out of flight school. It does not labor the reader with pages of white-knuckle adventures, as so many other fine books about the Vietnam War do. It instead focuses on the internal battle each soldier fought with himself to make sense of where he was, why he was there, and if he was good enough.
The administrative duties of Commissioned officers, while tame compared to the exploits of valiant pilots who wrote about them, caused a deep introspection into life and its value in an enigmatic place like Vietnam. Aside from the fear, excitement, deliverance, and denial that each pilot faced, the inner battle he fought with himself took its toll. Some of us thought we’d find glory. But many of us discovered there is no glory in war.
The talk in the lunch room was of a place called Bietnam or some such. Never heard of it. However, the US Congress in its infinite wisdom was getting us involved and nobody knew why.
The draft was reinstated and the young son’s of WW II veterans were on the chopping block. Some ran and some stayed. The author spells out the calamity facing a generation that did not endorse or embrace a “conflict” halfway around the world. Marc Cullison faced many of the same conflicted reactions that most of us felt. Why do I want to join the military and fight in a place that has no direct impact on my country? Mr. Cullison explains, “the Vietnam war was a tragedy, a shallow and profane act of war as any war is.” We were not threatened nor did we have anything to fear from Southeast Asia! Why did we have to get involved and escalate into that part of the world?
Four years of being a helicopter pilot in Vietnam was what his pledge to honor and serve elicited, and Marc examines his thoughts and feelings as he served his tour. This memoir does not describe so much of the actual air battles as it does the result of war on the men who served. As I read his account I was reminded of some of my own service-related experiences during the same time. Away from home for the better part of four years, I served in countries that I had never aspired to visit. But orders were cut, oaths were taken, and we were sent into the melee.
Like Marc, I served because I had promised to uphold and defend our Constitution and way of life. After boot camp, it was painfully obvious that the orders from “my superiors” were not necessarily superior. My specialty did not send me “in country” to face the trials that Marc witnessed, but the periphery.
Marc says, “when you sign up for military service, you are supposed to be ready to defend your country and even die for it.” It’s a time of terror in equal portions of boredom and excessive moments of retrospection and the author shares his insights in equal measure. (One of my orders was to return to a base in the mountains of Taiwan in a stage two typhoon alert as the mountain roared with the sound of a hundred freight trains and downed electrical lines crossed the roadway.) The futility of the experience upon our return to the states with people spitting on us and calling us baby killers really pissed me off. There were people in wheelchairs with missing body parts and blind and deaf who had had no choice in their deployment and our citizens waited at the airports to shame us.) I can understand where Marc is coming from. However, living in the orient taught me one thing. Most people simply want to live their lives and go about raising their families.
The book is often graphically profane, but I agree with the author that it frankly reflects an honest look at the legions of men sent to defend their spot in the jungle. It may also serve as a valuable education, particularly for those who are considering joining the military. The services are a valid way to serve our country; contribution seals loyalty and provides a window into the wheels of management. (Avoiding the draft was not then an option, but neither is it the responsibility of the young citizens of our nation to help bolster the coffers of the corporations that profit and proliferate the development of weapons of war.)
I highly recommend this book as a means of understanding the conflict that persons of that generation faced during that extremely divisive time. Certainly, I would serve again, and after 9/11 tried to re-enlist because our country had been attacked. Read this book and experience the futility that most wars can be.
Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars
Marc Cullison is a baby-boomer who grew up in an era when education was everything and duty to country was a responsibility. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering at Oklahoma State University, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army Reserve Corps of Engineers through the ROTC program. During his four-year tour of duty, he served as helicopter pilot with the 129th Assault Helicopter Company in II Corps, Vietnam, in 1971. He returned from overseas to an assignment as a military assistant to the resident engineer at Kaw Dam and Reservoir near Ponca City, Oklahoma, where he met the woman he would marry there. After two years in Ponca City, he was honorably discharged and returned to Oklahoma State where he received a master’s degree in architectural engineering and honed his technical skills as a professional structural engineer. Then into quality control at a manufacturing plant which led him into computer programming. His most recent career was a math and science instructor at Connors State College in Warner and Muskogee, Oklahoma, from which he retired in 2014. He lives with his wife in a self-built log house near Sallisaw.
Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour and thanks to Sage’s Blog Tours for the opportunity to read and review this novel!
©2018 C.E. Williams