Friday, November 24, 2017

Jungle Fighting in the Central Highlands

As a replacement, a friend of mine joined one of the units chronicled in this work shortly after the incidents described. Here's a brief glimpse of his life as an infantryman. A medic is mentioned who, I believe, survived the destruction of a platoon mentioned in the book.

Nine Days In May: The Battles Of The 4th Infantry Division On The Cambodian Border, 1967Nine Days In May: The Battles Of The 4th Infantry Division On The Cambodian Border, 1967 by Warren K. Wilkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An engrossing description of infantry combat as American units reacted to North Vietnamese Army ambushes and assaults, with young U.S. draftees battling a hardened enemy, often in hand-to-hand fighting.

Struggling in the dense forests of Vietnam's Central Highlands at a time when most Americans still supported the war, the U.S. companies and platoons generally possessed excellent small unit leadership. They would need all the help they could get as they clashed with the NVA under triple-canopy forests that often blocked out the sunlight as well as supporting artillery fire.

Wilkins touches on the U.S. strategy of attrition, and the political constraints that hobbled American forces, leaving them unable to pursue the NVA into their bases across the Cambodian border. Reduced to counting bodies, the 4th Infantry Division could never put away their foe. The fraud of body counts and the untouchable nature of enemy sanctuaries negated the courage and endurance of the men, eventually forcing 4th Infantry Division units to battle over the same ground again and again until the attrited Americans finally withdrew.

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!: Nostalgia Edition

Saturday Evening Post
Over the last 12 years,  I usually post something on, or around, Thanksgiving. So I shall continue doing so proudly, defiantly, without apology.

Thanks this year to being cancer-free on two fronts, having an employed wife, and teetering on the ledge of publishing an ebook detailing my struggles with prostate cancer. Also thankful that my mother-in-law survived open heart surgery. She proves that one is much better off with a working valve than without.

Gratitude is an under appreciated trait, and I strive to incorporate more of it each day. Best wishes to all.

T-Day Round-Up

1. 2016: Two days after Thanksgiving, I discuss the Cheshire moon and a new method of outlining for a fantasy novel I discarded in April. 

2. 2015: The Monday before I explain in some detail why you should review my books. Comes complete with explanatory video that hasn't expired yet. 

3. 2014: Hit the day square as I link to i09's Black Friday gift recommendations. (Looks like a rush cut and paste job.)

4. 2013: Day before featuring a short article I wrote for another publication that folded, explaining how we got football on Thanksgiving. 

5. 2012: Spot on as I invite readers to visit my review of Hitchcock over at Forces of Geek. (I didn't even check, but the review is probably long gone.)

6. 2011: Dead center as I link back to 2005. There are more comments than post. 

7. 2010: Same day posting as I wish everyone well and include a Simpson's image. (Posted 338 times that year.)

8. 2009: A salute to my friend Bernadette for running a 5k. Also a hat tip to a young man I know who dropped 100 pounds in a year. (This was my high-water year for posting—365 times. That's what unemployment will do.)

9. 2008: Another spot on post, little more than a 'happy' with WB characters as pilgrims. First T-Day in our condo.

10. 2007: Day before, with a mention of running as this was my peak marathon era. A message from dear friend K who passed away in 2012. Bittersweet.

11. 2006: A few days after, as we dined up in the Bay area with in-laws. I was training for the Phoenix Marathon that January and ran at every opportunity.

12: 2005: On the nose as I mention a Turkey Trot completed that day with chums from Team in Training. We were training for the Honolulu Marathon in early December. Two of those chums, Nick and P.J., subsequently married and now have a pair of fine children.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Happy 242, USMC!

Birthday greetings to all Devil Dogs past and present as I repost an offering from earlier this year.

USMC League

MCRD San Diego Back in the Day

Everything must begin somewhere. And in the United States Marine Corps, my enlisted tour commenced with yellow footprints. Drawn on the asphalt of the recruit depot with heels close together and toes angled out to 45 degrees, they are where I, along with seven other guys from our suburban Chicago neighborhood, stood to begin military service. Then we marched somewhere, boxed up our clothes and mailed them home, coming to the realization that our new life would be different from drinking beer behind a bowling alley.

The Vietnam War was winding down, at least for the United States, though the North Vietnamese would launch a huge attack against South Vietnam toward the end of March as we conducted infantry training at Camp Pendlelton. (In September, now a Private First Class, I would find myself in an Army hospital called Camp Kue on Okinawa, sharing  a ward with American advisors who'd been wounded helping the South Vietnamese forces stop the communists.)

In 1991, I visited the footprints on a vacation to San Diego with my girlfriend. (Now My Fine Wife or MFW.)

In 2002, I stood on a hill in Vietnam called Con Thien with a Vietnamese guide who told me about the obliteration of his village by B52s, bombing the NVA advance.

In 2008, I was back at MCRD finishing up a marathon with Team in Training.

But on a Friday night, January 14, 1972, I stood on yellow footprints. Oh, right before we boxed up our clothes, this happened:
(The following scene is rather accurate, except there's no C&W music. Just buzzzzzzz.)

h/t: amp1776

Friday, November 03, 2017

Apocalypse Story a Fast-Paced Revelation

Father Elijah: An ApocalypseFather Elijah: An Apocalypse by Michael D. O'Brien
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

At peace in a desert monastery, a psychologically-scarred monk is summoned by the Vatican to witness to a powerful international figure feared to be the Antichrist.

Based on Catholic eschatology, the story centers around the trials of Father Elijah, who reluctantly sets out on his mission only to find himself reliving the loss of family, friends, wife and child. As dark forces close around David Elijah, his friends and supporters, the monk struggles to complete his charge, grappling with issues such as the savagery of Man, free will, and the healing love of Christ. At the same time, the society around Father Elijah transforms at a bewildering pace, as lines dissolve between spirit, prophecy, and reality.

Set at the turn of the millennia, the book is paced like a thriller, with sharp dialogue driving the action forward; complex characters hold your interest. Overall, a fascinating exploration into the nature of evil, the power of patience, and the possibility of redemption.

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