Tag: Vietnam War

Montagnard: Chapter Sample #1

Setting the stage …

In this sample, we jump into the past to find young Dish, a Montagnard warrior and ally to the American’s during the Vietnam War, narrowly escaping certain death at the hands of the Viet Cong.

Dish is the adopted brother of Mai, a Vietnamese woman and mother to the main character in this exciting sequel to Serpents Underfoot. He plays a key role in this new tale of kidnap, rescue, redemption, and revenge.


17 September 1967

Dish leaned his back against a tall Dalat pine and struggled to quiet his heavy breathing to listen for sounds of enemy pursuit. The ambush had been perfect. Dish, as point man, had been allowed through the kill zone. Somehow he’d missed it, which meant that whoever laid that ambush was also damn good; because Dish was damn good.

The terrain had not allowed for the typical L-shaped ambush, or the Viet Cong’s favorite, a V-shaped ambush. But the Green Beret A-team he was scouting for was now caught in a deadly cross-fire from both sides of their position. Separated from the team by a dense hail of bullets created by both the ambushers and the Green Berets who were returning fire, Dish tried, unsuccessfully, to circle back and rejoin them. Unfortunately, he ran directly in to a group of a dozen or so VC that were moving up to reinforce the right leg of the ambush. Spotting Dish, the group opened fire, and he could do little more than turn and flee back down the trail. The excited VC, forgetting their mission, took off after him, following in hot pursuit.

Reaching up, he removed his Boonie hat to wipe his sweaty brow with the sleeve of his olive drab jungle fatigue jacket. Listening , he heard nothing.  

There’s no way I lost them, Dish thought. Maybe I outran them? He doubted that was the case and was sure they’d be along. More likely, they were moving cautiously.

Finally, he risked a swallow of water from his canteen, relieving the dryness of his throat. Placing the canteen back in its pouch on his left hip, Dish returned the Boonie hat to his head and crouched down, shifting his grip on the M-16 rifle he carried. He listened for several long minutes. Had he lost them? It still seemed unlikely.

That question was answered a few seconds later when Dish heard a twig snap a short distance to his left. He froze. A hushed admonishment in Vietnamese immediately followed.

Then, his eye caught a movement. Dish held his breath as two black-clad figures stepped out of the brush and into a small clearing just a few yards down the slope from where he now stood, pressed against the Dalat pine. Both VC carried AK-47s and wore bandoliers with extra ammunition hanging sash-style over their shoulders. Each wore the trademark conical straw hats as protection from the sun, which luckily at this moment was directly behind Dish.

He felt a bead sweat run down the back of his neck. More sweat stung his eyes. Dish could do nothing; even the slightest movement might give his position away. To his surprise, the two enemy fighters never even glanced his way. Their attention seemed focused on something downslope. Seconds later, the two continued to carefully work their way down the hill and away from where Dish was willing himself to become part of the tree. Then, like jungle ghosts, they were gone.

Turning, Dish began running along an outcropping of rock that was partially concealed by the Dalat pine against which he’d rested. There was a shout. An AK-47 fired, and a spattering of bullets ricocheted off the rock just behind him. They were right on his tail. Dish spotted an outcropping of rock just ahead and raced toward it. Hearing his pursuers closing in behind him, he ducked behind it.

I hope this isn’t a dead-end!

There was no place to hide. The crack created by the outcropping was narrow and not very deep. Perhaps five feet wide at its opening, in narrowed to maybe eighteen inches where it ended in a rock face.  It was seven or at feet deep at best with a thick growth of leafy scrub brush at the base of the rock face. It was a dead end.

At twenty-three years old, Dish had been fighting the North Vietnamese and their VC allies for seven years and had witnessed much of their evil brutality. He was determined not to be taken alive. Moving quickly to the rear of the crack, he pressed his back into the brush and checked the action of his M-16 rifle. Dish had ten fully loaded 30-round magazines available in his rucksack but doubted he’d get a chance to reload very many times.  When he died, several of them would come with him.

Pressing the magazine release, he quietly slid the partial magazine from the well and replaced it with a full one. Working the charging handle as noiselessly as possible, he moved back as far as he could into the split in the rock. Turning to face the opening, Dish leaned back into the brush, wanting to feel something substantial behind him. Nothing. He shifted back just a bit and pressed back again. Still, there was nothing. Crouching, he worked himself farther back into the scrubby growth and suddenly tumbled over backward.

Getting to his feet, Dish looked back at the crack. He was now standing on the other side. The rock face in front of him was solid, but there was a hole, probably cut by water at its base. Stooping, he peered into the hole and estimated the rock wall to be several feet thick. The scrub brush concealed the hole, and he had luckily fallen right into it. Dish listened but could hear nothing. The VC were cautious in their approach, suspecting they had him trapped and in no rush to get themselves killed. Even a trapped rat will turn on its pursuers, and Dish was no rat, more like a tiger.

Dish quickly took stock of his situation and could see he was in a big bowl cut by falling water. He spotted a rocky wash on his right that led up a steep, almost vertical, bank.

The only way out of here is up, he decided.

He slung the rifle across his back and started climbing up the wash, making as little noise as possible. He’d climbed about a hundred feet or so when the wash suddenly turned out onto a rock ledge. Flattening himself out, Dish lay on the shelf and quieting his ragged breath, listened. He could hear the VC below him, now searching for him, calling out to each other in Vietnamese.

“Fan out! He can’t have just disappeared. Poh! Use your bayonet and check that brush.” There was the sound of a bayonet snapping into place on a rifle barrel and then being thrust repeatedly into the brush.  

“I tell you he isn’t here!”

After a time, the perplexed group of VC moved on, their voices fading as they drew farther away. They’d completely missed the hole into which he’d fallen.


I think my readers will find real improvements in style and substance in this new release, due out next summer … a result of lessons learned while writing my first novel.

I have gotten great feedback in emails and reviews of Serpents Underfoot, and I always take that feedback to heart as I strive to improve my skills in my chosen craft as a writer. I am looking forward to hearing from my readers about this second novel when it is released.

I Just Added This To My Reading List!

PROMISES TO THE FALLEN

A VIETNAM WAR NOVEL

Glyn Haynie

Cover image of the new novel by Author Glyn Haynie
New Release

I just ordered a signed hardcover copy of Glyn Haynie’s newest release and cannot wait to read it!

Author Glyn Haynie

From the age of 19 until he retired in March of 1989, Glyn Haynie served his country as a member of the United States Army. Starting in 1969, his military career spanned 20 years. Haynie found himself turning 19 while fighting in the jungles of Vietnam with the 23rd Infantry Division. Before retiring, Haynie went on to serve as a drill instructor, a first sergeant, and finally as an instructor for the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy (USASMA).


I have read all three of his earlier books!

When I Turned Nineteen: A Vietnam War Memoir

Glyn Haynie’s first book, When I Turned Nineteen: A Vietnam War Memoir, tells of the author’s experiences as a 19-year-old soldier sent off to fight an unpopular war. In this gripping narrative, Haynie shares his war experience with his readers.

They were just average Americans – sons, fathers, husbands, and brothers. Men who who came together and formed a bond that would endure a lifetime, a bond formed in combat.

Glyn Haynie shares the vivid experiences of his period as a soldier during the War in Vietnam.

Weeks of boredom, minutes of terror. Surviving the humidity, the heat, the monsoons, a raging jungle fire, and struggling to build a firebase on a remote jungle hilltop, all while fighting fear, exhaustion, and facing a fierce and implacable enemy.

Soldiering After The Vietnam War: Changed Soldiers In A Changed Country

This second work, Soldiering After The Vietnam War: Changed Soldiers In A Changed Country, picks up where the first book leaves off and gives the reader a rare glimpse of what it meant to a soldier to return from Vietnam and continue to serve his country despite the lack of respect and appreciation typically afforded soldiers returning home from war.

The vast majority of American service men who served in Vietnam served bravely and honorably. The atrocities so often focused on by the media, and in films and documentaries were actually few and far between. Men like Glyn Haynie would probably never ask, but many in this country owe them an apology … and some long overdue respect and appreciation.

Finding My Platoon Brothers: Vietnam Then and Now

Glyn Haynie carries the names of 13 brothers forever engraved on his heart. They are the names of brothers-in-arms, killed in combat during the War in Vietnam.

The bonds formed in battle are unique and not understood by anyone who has not served in the military.

This third book by Glyn Haynie, Finding My Platoon Brothers, Vietnam Then and Now, describes his efforts to find and reconnect with his brothers of First Platoon. These men, with whom he served during the War in Vietnam, are indeed a real part of his family.


And now, to Glyn Haynie’s newest release, a very intriguing Vietnam War novel.

PROMISES TO THE FALLEN: A Vietnam War Novel

I have not yet read Glyn Haynie’s new novel, Promises to the Fallen: A Vietnam War Novel, but I have just ordered a signed copy! You can order a signed hardcover or paperback copy by clicking here!

While I have not actually met Glyn, I have gotten to know him through collaboration on some projects as well as through social media vehicles such as Twitter, and Instagram where we have shared tips on topics such as marketing books on Twitter or Instagram and using Amazon Ads.

I did read one chapter of his novel while it was in-progress and found it very intriguing. And, I believe that if you’re interested in military history, the Vietnam War era, its soldiers, and its heroes, this will be one novel you will definitely want to add to your reading list. It is now available at Amazon.com in Kindle, paperback and hardcover formats.

Once I have received my copy of the book and read it, I will post a review here on my blog!

James “Willie” Williams: The Most Decorated Enlisted Sailor in Naval History

I discovered this story about James Elliott “Willy” Williams in the Navy Times November 8, 2018 Edition. It was written by Doug Sterner. It is really quite a story and the man is most certainly an American hero! You can read the story here, or click here to read this on the Navy Times website

Willy Williams, the most decorated enlisted sailor in Navy history

By: Doug Sterner   November 8, 2018

In the history of the U.S. Navy only seven men have earned all of the “Big Three” valor awards: Medal of Honor, Navy Cross and Silver Star Medal. Six were World War II officers, including one aviator and four submarine commanders. The seventh was enlisted sailor James Elliott “Willy” Williams in Vietnam.

In 1947, Williams, a 16-year-old from Fort Mill, South Carolina, enlisted in the Navy with a fraudulent birth certificate. His first 19 years in the Navy included service aboard the destroyer USS Douglas H. Fox during the Korean War and tours on a variety of naval vessels from 1953 to 1965.

In May 1966 Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Williams was assigned to River Squadron 5 in South Vietnam to command Patrol Boat, River 105. The approximately 30-foot fiberglass boat usually carried a four-man crew who patrolled inland waterways to prevent the Viet Cong from using them to transport troops and supplies.

On July 1 Williams led a patrol that came under fire from a Viet Cong sampan. His deft maneuvers and accurate fire killed five VC and resulted in capture of the enemy boat, earning Williams a Bronze Star Medal with a “V” for valor. Twenty-two days later the capture of another sampan brought Williams a second Bronze Star for valor. Less than a month later, he received a Silver Star and his first Purple Heart.

On Halloween, Oct. 31, 1966, Williams was commanding a two-boat patrol on the Mekong River when he was fired on by two sampans. He and his crew killed the occupants of one and then went after the other. That pursuit put the Navy boats into a VC staging area containing two junks and eight sampans, supported by machine guns on the river banks. Williams called for helicopter gunship support while holding the enemy at bay. During this movement he discovered an even larger force. Not waiting for the armed helicopters, Williams attacked. Maneuvering through devastating fire from enemy boats and the shore, his two-boat patrol fought a three-hour battle that destroyed or damaged 65 VC boats and eliminated some 1,200 Communist troops. For his actions, Williams was nominated for the Medal of Honor.

On Jan. 9, 1967, the Navy dredge Jamaica Bay was blown up by mines in the Mekong Delta, and PBR-105 arrived to pick up seven of the survivors. Another man was trapped in the rapidly sinking dredge. Williams dove into the water and, with a rope attached to a nearby tug, pulled clear an obstruction, then swam through a hatch to recover the sailor.

Six days later Williams was wounded while leading a three-boat patrol that interdicted a crossing attempt by three VC heavy-weapons companies of 400 fighters. He and his boats accounted for 16 VC killed, 20 wounded and the destruction of nine sampans and junks. Williams was awarded the Navy Cross.

When Williams returned home in spring 1967, he had a list of awards unmatched by any enlisted man in Navy history. He retired after 20 years of service and began a career in the U.S. Marshals Service.

willy williams

On May 14, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson presented Williams with the Medal of Honor. For his lifesaving actions at the sinking Jamaica Bay, he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, often called “the noncombat medal of honor.”

During his last seven months in the Navy, Williams received every sea-service award for heroism including the Legion of Merit with “V,” two Navy Commendation Medals for valor and three Purple Hearts.

Williams died on Oct. 13, 1999, and in 2003 his widow, Elaine, watched the launching of the Arleigh Burke class destroyer, USS James E. Williams.

Doug Sterner, an Army veteran who served two tours in Vietnam, is curator of the world’s largest database of U.S. military valor awards.

This article originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of Vietnam Magazine, a Military Times sister publication. For more information on Vietnam Magazine and all of the HistoryNet publications, visit historynet.com.

Click here for more interesting blog posts and book reviews.

Be on the watch for my new thriller, Montagnard, coming out this summer, and check out the original JD Cordell military action thriller available on Amazon.com.

The Montagnards: The Green Berets’ Secret Vietnam Warriors.

montagnard
The Montagnards: The Green Berets’ Secret Vietnam Warriors symposium is Aug. 14 at 7 p.m.

Back in 2015, the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum hosted a panel discussion of the Green Berets’ Use of Montagnard Tribesmen During the War in Vietnam

I have been to Patriot Point several times and always enjoy touring the aircraft carrier. the USS Yorktown, and seeing the many naval aircraft on her deck, as well as the destroyer, the USS Laffey (which has an absolutely heroic history), and the submarine, the USS Clamagore (which I understand is destined to be sunk as an artificial reef).

I have done a great deal of research into the Montagnard people for both Serpents Underfoot and it’s “sequel in progress,” Montagnard. I am sorry I missed this symposium. It would have been interesting and helpful.

While really a short description of the symposium, there is also a good bit of information about the Montagnard people. Anyone interested in reading the article can click this link!

Award Winning Author Gives Serpents Underfoot Five Stars!

Award winning Author, Lee Boyland, says Serpents Underfoot is a good first novel.

Yesterday, I noticed that Serpents Underfoot had received another review, so naturally I went to check it out and discovered I had gotten another 5 Star review. This time from an award-winning author, Lee Boyland,  Lee has several books out on Amazon.com. Check some of his titles out here!

Award

Lee Boyland’s Review

I posted Lee Boyland’s review here in its entirety. It really made me feel good to get this review and I am certainly working hard to improve my style in future works. Thank you, Lee, for your honest review. It is certainly appreciated.

Award

The story begins in 1966 in Vietnam and fills the first six chapters, then moves back to the US. A young US Army lieutenant is thrown from a helicopter inserting a patrol, injured, and then rescued by a Vietnamese girl who returns to the US as his bride. At this point the story transitions to their son, a US Navy SEAL. The author does a good job of describing the real Vietnam war on the ground, the inhuman crimes committed, not by the US but by the Vietcong and North Vietnam army. Hope some of the flower children now running the country read these chapters.

Other reviewers have discussed the plot and in a couple of instances the books grammar and style. Monday morning quarterbacks who should attempt to write a novel. I am sure the author’s style will improve with future works. For me, the story is the important thing. Is the plot feasible? Are the characters believable? Is the action realistic? In this novel they all are.

Smuggling ten small nuclear devices across our border is possible, however, the “suite case nukes” in the story would not be 2 KT. Considering their source, a yield of .3 to .5 KT would realistic. This said, a .4 KT nuclear detonation in a city would be catastrophic. Such small devices exist and in the US are referred to as SADMs, small atomic demolition munitions for use by Special Forces behind enemy lines.

Isn’t that an awesome review?

You can get your copy of Serpents Underfoot (Kindle) here, or paperback here. I would love to hear what you think of the book!

It is also available online from Barnes and Noble as well as Books-A-Million

Wonderful! Another 5 Stars for Serpents Underfoot!

First, a short preamble!

wonderful

I first became acquainted with Cristina Pugh a few months ago. Cristina’s late husband, Johnny F. Pugh, is the author of Through Smoke-Teared Eyes: The Vietnam War I Fought. Cristina contacted me through Authors.com. She asked if I’d read her late husband’s book and perhaps post a short review of it online.

I did so and a few weeks later, posted my review of her late husband’s book on Amazon.com. This is a wonderful and amazing book. In addition, it is a winner of several awards! I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the infantryman’s experience during the Vietnam War. You can read my review here if you would like to.

Yesterday, I received a wonderful surprise!

Cristina wrote a wonderful Five Star review of Serpents Underfoot on Amazon.com calling it

“An intelligent current-day spy novel with a love story that dates back to the Vietnam War.”

You can read the entire review here. I have included an excerpt:

wonderful


In summary, Serpents Underfoot is a very well-written novel that exhibits Gilbert’s passion for and extensive knowledge of military history, martial arts and spy sagas. It quite effectively blends these themes with terrorist threats from well-financed middle-eastern extremists and current-day foreign government meddling into controlling and financing United States presidential campaigns. Any reader who loves spy novels combined with an exotic love story that goes back decades will certainly enjoy this book. D.C. Gilbert is currently working on a sequel to this, his first work of fiction, and I am looking forward to reading more by this very talented and skilled author.

Cristina Pugh

All I can say, Cristina, is thank you for the wonderful review. I am so glad you enjoyed the book.

To read other interesting posts on a variety of topics on this blog, just click here!

Etchings in Stone, Moving Beyond Belief …

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, also referred to as The Wall, in Washington DC, is a late but wonderful first step in welcoming home Vietnam Veterans. Etchings in Stone is an unbelievably moving play written by Ron Harris about The Wall from a very unique perspective.

Ron Harris, Playwright and Vietnam Veteran

etchings

I met Ron Harris, a North Carolina Vietnam Veteran, at the Raleigh Museum of History during a Vietnam Veteran’s Day event. This event featured the mobile “Wall” exhibit, a Huey (bringing back my own fond memories of my time with the 101st Air Assault Division), and other Vietnam War memorabilia collected and displayed by the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Chu Chi Tunnels and a conversation 

While looking at a great 3-D diorama of the Chu Chi Tunnels of Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), a man came up and asked if I had any questions about the diorama. We began to talk about the Chu Chi Tunnels and other dioramas he had built and that were on display.  During the conversation, I disclosed that I had written a novel that begins with the story of my main character’s father fighting in Vietnam, titled Serpents Underfoot

Ron then told me that he’d written a play called Etchings in Stone about The Wall, and  that it was showing every hour in the museum auditorium. I decided I needed to see this play. We talked a bit more before I headed toward the auditorium to see Etching in Stone. I was not entirely prepared for what I was about to experience.

Twenty-one Etchings

The play features about twenty-one segments, or stories, about visitors to The Wall.  Ron took the unique and extremely moving perspective of placing the audience inside The Wall, and giving them the ability to hear what the visitors were saying as well as their unspoken thoughts. The effect was moving beyond belief.  

etchings

Each visitor approaches The Wall looking for a name … a father, a husband, a brother, an uncle, or a fellow soldier, sailor, marine, or airman. You hear their words as well as their thoughts. One emotional soldier thanks a medic for saving his life. Then there’s the widow who misses her husband dearly. And, the father or mother missing their son. We meet a  woman missing her older brother. There’s even a soldier apologizing for accidentally shooting his buddy because his buddy had not given the countersign when challenged upon entering the defensive perimeter. The anguish was very real! It was palpable!

You are all my father …

The last segment blew me completely away. It featured a young Amerasian woman, who I later learned she was played by Ron Harris’s adopted daughter. The young woman approaches The Wall. We learn that she is the daughter of the an American soldier and a Vietnamese woman. The soldier planned to marry her mother, but is killed in action before that could occur. The mother, with little chance of making a life for her daughter, puts the baby up for adoption. The baby is adopted and raised by a wonderful American couple. While the young woman loves her adoptive parents very much, she wants to know who her real father was.

She seeks help from the U.S. military but they have no records of who he father might have been. She contacts other Vietnam Vets, but they are unable to help her either. The young woman then returns to Vietnam and locates an aunt who tells her that her mother died and never talked much about her American fiance. He aunt is very sorry, but she cannot help her.

The young woman finally comes to The Wall to pick a name … a name to be her father.  But, when she sees the number of of names on The Wall, she is completely overwhelmed. How can she choose only one? The woman decides to choose them all … they will all be her father. And that way, in the future, if anyone should ever asks if her father’s name is on The Wall, she can answer truthfully … yes.

Moments of respite …

I do not know if it was intended this way, but between segments of Etchings in Stone there are power point slides that include interesting facts about the Vietnam War and The Wall. There is also music from the era, video, and still photos of the Vietnam War. There are interviews with veterans and songs about The Wall. The play is entertaining, extremely moving, and very educational.

A shift in America’s conscience.

This country always welcomed  its Veterans home with open arms. That is until the Korean War. Korean War veterans came home to simple indifference. However, when Vietnam War ended, that indifference became outright disrespect and even hatred. Far too many Americans spit on these veterans, or called them baby killer and other names.  These men and women only did the job their government had sent them to do. Therefore, in addition to the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) some suffered due to the effects of combat, many suffered an additional layer of PTSD caused by this treatment. This treatment of these American veterans was a national disgrace. 

While the Vietnam War certainly affected the men and women who fought it, it also had a profound effect on those who stayed home. The mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, wives and children, girlfriends, friends and strangers were all touched by the war. This play, Etchings in Stone, addresses the issues that affected all these people, veterans, family and friends. It is Ron’s hope that through this play, Vietnam veterans will come to realize that they are not alone in their feelings.

D.C. Gilbert