When We Walked Above the Clouds: A Memoir of Vietnam
There is the mythology of the Green Berets, of their clandestine, special operations as celebrated in story and song. And then there is the reality of one soldier’s experience, the day-to-day loss and drudgery of a Green Beret such as H. Lee Barnes, whose story conveys the daily grind and quiet desperation behind polished-for-public-consumption accounts of military heroics...more
Hardcover, 300 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by University of Nebraska Press
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This smallish book is the author's memoirs of his time in service with the US Army Special Forces. He was first deployed to the Dominican Republic during the civil war there in 1965 and then shortly after he volunteered during the Vietnam War to be a member of a US Army Special Forces training team. He was subsequently posted to a team based in Tra Bong, situated in Quang Ngai province. His main role in Tra Bong was to help train and serve with soldiers of the Civil Irregular Defence Group (CIDG...more
Author is mainly a fiction writer. Mentions that for many years he hesitated to write this non-fiction chronicle about his Vietnam War experiences. Former compatriots, though, urged him on. Though his experiences weren’t dramatic, they no doubt reflect the mundanity that many others who served there experienced. Although trained as a Green Beret, at first he was assigned to routine camp cleanup duties. He bemoans incompetence in command, lack of orders to do what he was trained for, and miseries...more
When We Walked Above the Clouds is the story of H. Lee Barnes's experiences that led to and included his time in the Green Beret American Special Forces during the Vietnam conflict. He was stationed in one location for his time there. If you are looking for exciting moments of bravery and battle, you may be disappointed. In fact, he seems somewhat matter-of-fact when it comes to the battles he was a part of. He does paint a vivid portrait of the stress and drudgery that alternatively preoccupy...more
An honest account of the Vietnam war, this work is tightly focused on the author's individual experience - on the war he saw, the war he fought, while a member of a Special Forces team in A107 Tra Bong. This narrow focus and the author's simple but graphic style give this work an authenticity that truly puts the reader back into that time and place, physically and emotionally - and places him there with real people. The author's descriptions of the men with whom he served, both American and Viet...more
Mr. Barnes has written a gutsy, harshly-readable but finely crafted book about a war that still polarizes many. Even today Vietnam is not yet a country but still a war, such was its influence on our political and social discourse lo these fifty years past. Barnes was a member of the exclusive Army Special Forces, known to civilians and one singer/songwriter Barry Sadler as the Green Berets. These troops didn't stay green very long, those who survived. Based at a remote encampment somewhere near...more
A word from a subsequent commander of the Special Forces unit assigned to Tra Bong. Author H. Lee Barnes, former Special Forces demolition sergeant, recounts his sejour a a team member of "A Team" A-107, Tra Bong Vietnam. Forget "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong." Want to know what it was like to be a grunt Green Beret in Viet Nam, most specifically at Tra Bong? Read Barnes and skip the middle class intellectual bullshit of 99% of what has been written to date about America's misadventure in the...more
When We Walked Above the Clouds: A Memoir of Vietnam by H. Lee Barnes (University of Nebraska Press 2011)(Biography) is an exceptionally well-written memoir of one man's experiences during the Vietnam war. The author acknowledges that he was in a rural backwater in the field and does not claim to have participated in any famous battles, but that makes his story all the more real and appealing. This book is a must-read for students of history and war. My rating: 7/10, finished 5/26/12.