How refreshing to have a combat memoir from the the point of view of a combat service support guy. Lots of action here and the best part of the book w...moreHow refreshing to have a combat memoir from the the point of view of a combat service support guy. Lots of action here and the best part of the book was not the combat but the dealing with the leadership challenges. Sadly they weren't with the enlisted Marines but more with the supervisors. Frank McAdams maintained his cool though and has written a very interesting and stimulating account of his time in the Marines in Vietnam. You could feel the tension between the junior officers and the field grade officers much like in Karl Marlantes' "Matterhorn." That tension was still prevalent in 1979 when I was in a battalion and so was the hypocrisy. McAdams says his favorite rank or grade was 2dLt. He must be the first and only person whom I've ever met who has this opinion. Vietnam vets will enjoy this read as will the Marines of today as they ponder if things are better now after ten years of continuous war.(less)
Wasn't a fan initially of the author's approach to telling the story with snippets by multiple participants, but the individual stories are compelling...moreWasn't a fan initially of the author's approach to telling the story with snippets by multiple participants, but the individual stories are compelling and the approach grew on me. I wish there were better maps of the engagements as they are described. This is a homage to the Vietnam Veteran. Lots of great personal pictures provided by the participants as well. One can not but be moved by the selflessness of these Marines who fought fiercely. The NVA were also formidable soldiers.
Some takeaways. I never knew that CS (tear gas) was employed so much in Vietnam. I can't even begin to imagine trying to wear a gas mask in the heat and humidity of RVN. I have met several of the men in this book and I'm in awe of their accomplishments. I knew they fought in Vietnam and had commanded squads, companies, and battalions but knowing that really didn't bridge the gap of my comprehension of their service. Only by reading this book do I now have an appreciation of just what they endured. I had read the official Marine Corps histories too. Also the amount of torture done by the NVA on prisoners and the mutilation of the dead was surprising. The other factor that just screams out is the M-16 rifle. So many Marines were killed because their rifle didn't work. More should have been said about the AK 47 which allowed a poorly trained NVA recruit to become a lethal killer.
It also struck me that the NVA capitalized on the audacity of the Marines. It seemed time and time again companies were caught in L shaped ambushes by two battalions of NVA. A good analogy might be the Civil War with the South fighting offensively and squandering their precious manpower with the USMC being like the South, always attacking. The Marines destroyed the 2nd NVA Division but at a high price in KIA's and this was the year before the 1968 Tet Offensive. This campaign basically prevented Da Nang from becoming like Hue. But I really don't know what we could have done otherwise in terms of offensive tactics. The NVA had no airpower but were masters of camouflage. We knew they were there but not exactly where.(less)
A book that is long overdue. Finally one from the South Vietnamese perspective. Would have liked to have seen more pictures, better pictures, and bett...moreA book that is long overdue. Finally one from the South Vietnamese perspective. Would have liked to have seen more pictures, better pictures, and better maps. I had a difficult time managing the flow of the situation with the maps provided. The author provides some interesting insights into both the tactical and the operational art of war as well as some great individual war stories. Seeing how the ARVN fought so tenaciously during the Easter Offensive in 1972 for An Loc it seems hard to believe the country could have fallen three years later. But that is explained too. Some real heros and warriors living now among us in the USA and we are completely oblivious of their accomplishments because they are Vietnamese and not American. But perhaps it's better to be forgotten than to be disrespected like so many of our American veterans were. If you are going to read about Vietnam you need to read this book to round out your perspective. Many of the heroes of An Loc endured over a decade of "re-education" in the new Vietnam before being released in the late 1980's.(less)