Tag: Vietnam

A Cover Worthy of the Story Inside

This journey began some time ago, when a reader of Montagnard who absolutely loved the story, had one criticism to make.

If I had one criticism (and I hate to criticize) it would be the cover. And please don’t take this the wrong way but I wouldn’t buy this book at the bookstore because of the cover. Which is a shame because I would have bypassed a great read!

The reason I bought your book is because I follow your blog and I like to support bloggers.


Honestly, based on the cover I expected to tolerate the book, but… I LOVED it (I have already recommended it to two of my friends).


While I can see how there is a hint of what the book is about by the cover it just doesn’t quite convey properly. To me the cover says ‘political non-fiction’ — it doesn’t say ‘intriguing, captivating, intense action, feel good awesomeness’ which is exactly what your book is.

Beck

This reader’s comment led to a discussion with my editor and a plan to redo the covers of both Serpents Underfoot and Montagnard before the release of the third book, Reciprocity.

The new cover for Serpents Underfoot was completed and I was very pleased with its new cover. You can click here to view that cover on Amazon.com.

Then it became time to work on the new cover for Montagnard. My editor said the covers should identify the books as being written by me and also that they are part of a series. This is part of establishing your “brand.”

When I got the proof for the new cover of Montagnard, I was a bit nervous. It seemed like a tall order, and I had selected the images to use to create the cover. What if I had chosen bad images, or a bad color scheme? Finally, I opened the file.

All I could say was, “Wow!” I could not believe it. My cover designer, Angie, had done an absolutely brilliant job. She was waiting for my “suggested edits.” My response was … don’t change a thing!

I shared the cover proof with several readers I know, family members, friends, etc. The reaction was the same everywhere! I heard two things repeatedly.

  1. I absolutely love it!
  2. That cover is “BAD ASS!”

One reader commented, “Finally, a cover that does justice to the story inside.”

So, without further ado … here is the new cover for Montagnard!

The new cover is up for the Kindle version, and will soon be ready for the paperback and hardcover versions. Check out the kindle version here!


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Author D.C. Gilbert

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Roy Loveday: Navy SEAL and Karate Sensei

I first met Sensei Roy Loveday in 1983 at Wheeler’s School of Karate in Powell, TN. It was at the same time I first met Sensei Sherman Harrill. I remember Roy being present at a few amazing classes Sensei Harrill taught, and then both were gone. It wasn’t until much later that I learned the backstory to that, but it really doesn’t matter for this post. This post is about Roy Loveday, a former Navy SEAL, a Vietnam veteran, a solid karateka, and a friend.

I got reintroduced to Roy when I started bringing Sensei Sherman Harrill in for seminars in the mid-90s. Sensei asked if he could invite Roy as his guest, and I said, “No problem, Sensei. Please do.” After that first seminar, Sensei and I would often visit Roy whenever he came into Clinton, TN, for future seminars. Sometimes we would train, and sometimes they would reminisce, and I would just listen. Sensei Harrill and Roy Loveday were great friends, and it was fascinating to sit there and listen as they talked back and forth about Isshin-ryu Karate and their shared history. After we finished training at one of these sessions, Sensei surprised both Roy and me with new rank certificates.

Roy Loveday, Sherman Harrill, Darren Gilbert

After Sensei Harrill passed away on November 4, 2002, I started bringing in his senior student, Sensei John Kerker, for seminars. John had inherited Sensei’s dojo in Carson, IA. Although health issues were beginning to make it hard for him to train, Roy Loveday would still come and support us. I remember one comment Roy made to me as he watched me struggle to understand how to to make one of the techniques we were working on flow properly. He came over and stood there for a minute and watched. Then he commented.

“Darren, don’t forget your elbow principles.”
“Elbow principles?” I asked. “What the heck are those?” I hadn’t heard that phrase before.
“When a technique gives you a problem, give it to your elbow to solve,” Roy replied. Then he grinned and walked off.

It turned out that was a great pearl of wisdom, and applying the “Elbow Principle” has help me understand and solve a lot of difficulties in technique since.

Mark Radunz, John Kerker, Darren Gilbert, Mel Sims, and Roy Loveday

Roy passed away on February 11, 2021, at age 76. He was born on October 25, 1944, graduated from Central High School, and enlisted in the US Navy, where he became a SEAL. Roy served in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam during the war. After Vietnam, he retired from the Norfolk Railroad and served as a Free Mason. Sensei Loveday studied and taught Isshin-Ryu Karate for over 40 years and held a 7th Degree Blackbelt.

In addition to Isshin-ryu Karate, Roy also studied Shinto-Ryu and Tai Chi. He wrote and published an Isshin-Ryu training manual. I was honored to help by being in some of the photographs demonstrating weapons techniques with Sensei Harrill. It was a real honor. The dojo patch (shown in the post banner) adopted by Sensei Sherman Harrill and proudly worn by his students was based on Roy’s design. The name would just change depending on the school.

For hobbies, Roy enjoyed rebuilding old ’55 Chevys, and I still remember one old Chevy truck he was in the process of painting on one of my visits over to his house. Roy was a master diver and loved SCUBA diving.

For anyone who knew Roy and would like to pay their respects, the Family will receive friends from 6:00 – 7:00 PM Saturday, February 20, 2021, at Mynatt Funeral Home Halls Chapel, with a service to follow at 7:00 PM. Rev. Mark Large, Rev. Danny Scates, and Daniel Beason will be officiating. Family and friends will meet at 12:15 PM for a 12:30 PM interment on Monday, February 22, 2021, at East Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery on John Sevier Highway. Online condolences may be left by clicking here.

It saddens me, because I just moved back to Knoxville, Tennessee and was looking forward to reconnecting with Roy. He was a good man who served his country and had a lot to share. He will be missed.

Serpents Underfoot: New Cover Project

Below are the three new covers under consideration for my novel, Serpents Underfoot. I am always interested in what readers, supporters, and fans have to say about my work. It helps me improve as an author and keeps me motivated to work hard and keep my readers happy!

The question I am asking is not so much … which one do you like. It is more … which one piques your interest more or which one are you more inclined to buy?

Cover Design 1: This layout features a Navy SEAL at the top, balanced by the Vietnamese woman and Ajax below. The cover is filled with a subtle snakeskin texture.

Cover Design 2: This layout is a more traditional novel approach, with a large condensed title. The background is a subtle American flag.

Cover Design 3: This layout features JD Cordell and Ajax standing in front of the White House. There is a subtle snakeskin texture over the whole cover.

Okay, you’ve seen the covers! So, what do you think?

Montagnard: Another Home Run

Montagnard just received another 5-Star review

One thought behind Serpents Underfoot and Montagnard …

Over the past years, it became “fashionable” to bash US service members serving worldwide while making saints out of the other side. Nowhere was this more apparent than during the war in Vietnam, when we had Hanoi Jane posing for pictures with North Vietnamese artillery units and passing a POW’s hopeful message home on to the commander of the Hanoi Hilton prison, a place where so many American servicemen (including John McCain) were imprisoned and tortured. That was a national disgrace!

And it is not always intentional. The Vietnam War film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, in my opinion, tried to give a truthful picture of the Vietnam War. However, we can rarely escape inserting our own views into what we create. While most who viewed this film praised it for its neutrality and fairness, and accurate portrayal of the war, many Vietnam Veterans I have spoken with, are still left with a bad taste in their mouths when watching this film because, at least in their view, it still portrays the American servicemen in a somewhat undeserved negative light.

Yes. Bad things happen in war. We all (well, at least those who bother to learn a little history) remember the My Lai Massacre. Unfortunately, war can bring out the worst in people as well as the best. But I would venture to say that at least 95 percent of American servicemembers serve their county honorably. That fact seems to get lost.

It was my intention, starting with Serpents Underfoot and continued in Montagnard, to write stories that would portray American servicemembers in a positive light because that is what the vast majority of them deserve. Being an old veteran myself, it still upsets me to hear some schmuck bad-mouth the very same people who fought for that schmuck’s right to bad-mouth them. And, far more often than not, the bad-mouthing is undeserved. Anyway, that was my goal. Readers will notice, I included all branches of service in Serpents Underfoot and several of them in Montagnard. There are even references to the British SAS, SBS, and the Israeli Defense Force. These are those who fight to preserve freedom around the globe.

I am happy when readers pick up on this …

And several of them have. There are comments in reviews like …

  • This story gives insight into the bravery of men like these who risk their lives to save others. (Montagnard)
  • You will find an astounding emotional impact as you walk beside men like JD and his K9 partner, Ajax, risking their lives to protect other people. (Montagnard)
  • A good job of describing the real Vietnam war and the inhuman crimes committed, not by US servicemembers but by the Vietcong and North Vietnam army. (Serpents Underfoot)

That is why a review like this one from DeeDee means so much to me!

Great story; very well written. Loved all the characters. This book, like your last one, had me from the beginning. JD is amazing and is an Isshin-ryu expert to boot. This book has it all. It makes you proud to be an American, has believable love stories and great action throughout. Loved it.

DeeDee

Feel free to check out some of my other blog posts by clicking here, and please, check out my books on my Amazon Author’s Page! They do get great reviews!

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Montagnard: The Philippine Connection

Sometimes the strangest things happen.

I am hard at work on the third installment in the JD Cordell Action series, called Reciprocity, which will take on human trafficking. And in this story, some of the action occurs in the Philippine Islands. While still in the development stages, JD Cordell will travel to the Philippines, where he and a few associates will mete out some well-deserved justice to a gangland cartel trafficking girls between Asia, Mexico, and the US. But enough of that, I don’t want to give too much away.

My new Filipino fan base …

The interesting thing is that I just received a 5-Star review for Montagnard from a writer, blogger, and editor, based, you guessed it … in the Philippines. I think that is pretty cool!

Herzie Santos, a.k.a. SheySaints, has a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and has worked for Coca Cola Bottlers, Goldprint Publishing House, AXA Financial, and Sutherland Global Services. Her professional experiences in several different work industries have provided her with a great deal of expertise, including professional writing skills. She has written and published poems, short stories, book and movie reviews, essays, and several articles. She’s also a content writer, book reviewer, proofreader, and fiction writer.

Here are a few comments from her review …

I miss stories like this. It gives me this unexplainable nostalgic feeling. I rarely read anything like this anymore and I’m glad I stumbled upon this great book.

It was a well-written action-packed thriller … I highly recommend this book to readers who love heroic military and dog stories.

Herzie Santos

You can read the rest of her review here if you like: https://sheysaints18.wordpress.com/2020/12/01/book-review-montagnard/

It makes me smile! I may not yet be a renowned author, but I am definitely international. Montagnard has been read and/or reviewed in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, India, and now … the Philippines!

Click the button below to order your copy of this award-wing action-thriller.

Just Stories, Part 4

Isshin-ryu Karate … JD Cordell style!

My involvement with the martial arts …

I have had a long-held interest in the martial arts. One Christmas, I received a book called Best Karate, written by Mas Oyama, when I was 13 or 14 years old. I spent hours in my bedroom trying to learn from the book.

When I began attending the Charles H McCann Technical School in North Adams, Massachusetts, I was invited by a friend to a Uechi-ryu Karate (a very traditional Okinawan system) class in nearby Adams and started attending. But once I discovered cars and girls, that pretty much ended that … as well as my interest in scouting.

When I was stationed in Korea (12/81 to 12/82), I studied Tae Kwon Do with the battalion instructor. He was excellent. I earned a red belt, which, in that system, was the equivalent of a brown belt in the ranking system used by many styles. When I got back to the U.S., I started competing in tournaments and did okay. However, I discovered these Isshin-ryu guys who had a wicked reverse punch. They would slide up your extended kicking leg and nail you with it. I decided I needed to see what they were doing and so sought out an Isshin-ryu dojo.

Years later, I was running my own dojo and hosting tournaments. But I was very disappointed in the way things were evolving. I was never that wild about sport karate. I just did that to keep students. I saw limited techniques being used in sport karate; it was more like a game of tag. The rules seemed to violate the karate “maxims” I was trying to adhere to.

For example, in Okinawan Karate, all kicks are targeted below the waist. Step into the ring, and now all kicks must be above the waist. That seemed odd!

And kata, especially with the advent of musical kata, quickly devolved into breakdancing with some kicks thrown in.

Note: Let me just say that full-contact karate and MMA fighters of today are great athletes and some damn tough individuals. They are very good at what they do and deserve respect. It is just not “karate” as I had come to understand it.

The problem was that I do read a great deal, and I had read a lot of history about Okinawa, the birthplace of Karate, and the early pioneers of Tang Hand, which later become known as Empty Hand … or Karate. I was simply not seeing the Karate I’d read so much about. Either the stories were all lies, or there was nobody around who could do that stuff anymore. I was actually ready to throw in the towel. Then I met Sensei Sherman Harrill.

Sensei Harrill was from a cross-roads in the cornfields called Carson, Iowa (near Council Bluffs). He was an ex-Marine who trained with the Isshin-ryu system’s founder, Tatsuo Shimabuku, while stationed in Okinawa in the late 50s. And he was the real deal.

Everything I had ever seen paled when stacked up against what he did. No matter who you were, how big, how strong, or what you knew … he would effortlessly show you the error of your ways. Organizations, rank, who you knew did not matter. It was what you could demonstrate on the mat that counted.

So, I started over. I traveled all around the country to seminars for years to train with this guy. It was a humbling and memorable moment when I asked him how I could become his student. He laughed and replied. “well, most folks just ask.” So, I asked. And he replied, “Darren, I have seen the changes you are making in your Karate and how you train … so welcome aboard.”

That was the beginning of the journey of a lifetime.

The origins of JD’s Nguyen-ryu

Nguyen-ryu is an indigenous martial art found in Vietnam. Mai’s father, Ang, was a village elder, and in the book Serpents Underfoot, a well-respected practitioner of this art. Ang taught this art to both his daughter, Mai, and the son of his old Montagnard friend, Dish. Dish and Mai both taught the art to Curtis Cordell, Mai’s American husband, and JD’s father.

Curtis tried to teach Nguyen-ryu to his son, but that old father-son thing interfered. Eventually, Curtis took his son to a dojo run by a friend of his. That Sensei taught a very traditional version of Isshin-ryu. JD did learn a great deal of Nguyen-ryu from his mother, which blended well with the Isshin-ryu.

It has been my experience that most “real” martial arts have more in common than differences. That is because when you get past all the marketing hype, it is body mechanics that determine what works … and the human body only moves powerfully so many ways.

My exposure to Nguyen-ryu

Enter Charlie Taylor, a good friend, a Vietnam veteran, and a damn good martial artist. He just showed up at my dojo one day and started helping out.

Charlie had served several tours in Vietnam as a medic on Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols in the region of Vietnam my books focus on. He was a quiet guy, but when the mood struck, he had some fantastic stories to tell about his experiences in Vietnam. I am sure he embellished them a bit to make them more fun to listen too, but there was something in the stories and his eyes when he told them that led you to understand that there was an element of truth to each one.

Charlie was also a highly-skilled martial artist, and there was nothing “superfluous” in what he did. I remember spending time training what was essentially a “silent sentry removal” technique with him and being shocked and a bit disturbed at the ease with which it worked. I still remember asking him, rhetorically,

“And, you’ve used this before.”

He just looked at me kind of funny and replied, “On a few occasions.”

While he knew a few of the kata, Charlie didn’t practice Isshin -ryu. In fact, many of our workouts consisted of me teaching him more Isshin-ryu kata. He practiced what he called Nguyen-ryu. Charlie claimed he’d learned it from his grandfather, who’d married a Vietnamese girl while stationed in Japan after WWII. This girl’s father was a skilled practitioner of the style, and after a suitable period of denials, consented to teach it to his daughter’s round-eyed husband.

I know it sounds like a movie plot. And maybe it is. I can neither prove nor disprove Charlie’s claims. However, I can definitely vouch for his abilities. Charlie could be damn scary when he was “in the zone,” much like my former instructor, Sensei Harrill. Those who have trained with Sensei Harrill will understand what I am referring to. We called it “shark eyes.”

Charlie breaking three boards (no spacers) with a ridge-hand at a demo in Norris, TN.

Charlie did have an honorary 5th-degree black belt in Isshin-ryu Karate signed by Harold Long. However, he always claimed it was not worth the paper it was written on. It seems Charlie had impressed Harold Long with his abilities while training for a period at Long’s school in Knoxville, Tennessee, but, as mentioned earlier, had only learned a few of the kata. He held no official rank in Nguyen-ryu, so he always wore a white belt.

I will say that the kid’s classes loved it when Charlie regaled them with stories of his early training days. He always referred to them as “Papaw Days.”

Unfortunately, Charlie passed away a few years ago from a combination of medical conditions, several of which I am sure originated with his tours of duty in Vietnam. Some of the threads in Serpents Underfoot and Montagnard are based on past discussions with Charlie. And I think Charlie may be resurrected from the dead for a character in the next book in the series titled Reciprocity. I think he would like that.

Martial Arts scenes in the two books …

I have seen a large man knocked unconscious with a punch to the shoulder. I do not know too many people who could do that. Sensei Harrill certainly could. And, his “fence post punch” was something to behold. You did not want to get hit with it.

On more than one occasion, MMA fighters or cage fighters from the casinos in Council Bluff would make their way to his dojo after hearing about this karate guy who had a reputation for being a badass. Every one of them left with a new appreciation for karate … well, at least Sherman Harrill’s version.

The technique JD uses to take out the drug smuggler on the trail from Laos into Vietnam is simply one of my variations on Charlie Taylor’s sentry removal technique.

Putting it all together

I like to think my stories are written to entertain, but there is so much more to them, at least for me. They are ways to remember, record, and share the people I have known, places I have been, things I have seen, and the stories I have heard, as well as the possibilities those things can combine to create.

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POW/MIA Recognition Day

National POW/MIA Recognition Day was established in 1979 by a proclamation signed by President Jimmy Carter. Since then, each subsequent president has continued the tradition, commemorating the third Friday in September as National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

A national ceremony is held on every National POW/MIA Recognition Day at the Pentagon featuring members of each branch of military service and the participation of high-ranking officials.

In addition to the national ceremony, many observances of National POW/MIA Recognition Day can be found across the country on military installations, ships at sea, state capitols, schools, veterans’ facilities, homes, and private businesses.

No matter where they are held, these National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremonies share the common purpose of honoring those held captive and returned, and those who remain missing.

According to the Department of Defense, approximately 83,114 Americans are still missing today.

In past years, I have seen Missing Man Honors tables set up in restaurants I have visited on this day. It never fails to bring a lump to my throat.

Missing Man Honors

Let me take a moment to explain the significance of the Missing Man Honors to those who may not understand. This is how the table is typically set at military and veteran clubs, and private businesses and homes.

The tables I have seen are typically set for one, with the single empty chair representing all missing American servicemembers. It will sometimes be done with a setting for six, with each chair representing the missing Americans from each of the services, including the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and civilian.

There is great symbolism in how the table is set.

The table is round to symbolize our everlasting concern.

The table cloth is white and represents the purity of motive in answering the call to serve.

A single red rose is placed on the table to remind us of the lives of these Americans and their friends and loved ones who keep the faith.

The yellow ribbon represents our continued uncertainty, hope for their return, and determination to account for them.

A slice of lemon reminds us of their bitter fate, captured or missing in a foreign land.

A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of the missing and their families.

The lighted candle reflects our hope for their return.

The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.

The glass is inverted, symbolizing their inability to share a toast.

The chair is empty … because these great Americans are missing.

Traditions such as these honor those who fought and sacrificed so Americans today can live in Freedom.

Freedom is such a precious gift, a gift paid for by blood during the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and other conflicts.

Politics is for politicians. The American fighting men and women put the politics aside and just do their job. All Americans should remember the brave men and women who answered our nation’s call and served in defense of freedom, and it is especially important to remember those who have not yet come home.

Just Stories, Part 3

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing

Edmund Burke

That is the short version attributed to Edmund Burke. It is actually derived from a longer work titled Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (1770).

Defining Good and Evil …

As old fashioned as it might seem, I do believe in good and evil. And I strongly agree with Edmund Burke that for evil to triumph, all that is needed is for good men to sit by and do nothing.

And I certainly understand that the world we live in is not always so black and white. No, I am not racist; I am merely using an analogy that far predates the politically charged various versions of racism we must try to sort through today.

There is a great deal of gray in the world. However, social order and civilization are dependent on defining what lawful and unlawful behavior is. And, some actions are almost unanimously deemed as reprehensible (or evil). These, even in today’s upside-down world, would typically include stealing, murder, rape, slavery, human trafficking, genocide, etc.

Complete pacifism only leads to one of two possible places …

What are those two places? Simply stated, they are slavery or extinction.

You might argue that it is a bit extreme. I argue it is not. History is chock-full of examples supporting this concept, going back thousands of years. And, those who fail to study history are far too often doomed to repeat it.

I have thirty-five plus years of martial arts training. I served in the U.S. military and graduated from the best private bodyguard training school in the United States. I understand what really evil people can do, and refusing to stand up to them typically does not stop them.

I am reminded of a dinner party I was at many years ago. One of the guests was a local radio station disc jockey, and I soon discovered, an avowed pacifist. He asked me how I could justify owning guns and also teaching people how to beat up other people. I simply answered that I do not teach people how to hurt other people. I teach people how to stop people from hurting them or people they care about.

He scoffed at that. So I gave him a scenario (we had just recently had our first home invasion in Anderson County in the news, where an elderly couple was tied to chairs, brutally beaten, and robbed). I asked him if he were home at night with his wife and three young children, and violent people invaded his home with the intent to harm his family, would he just step out of the way because he “did not believe in violence,” or would he try to protect his family?

He thought about that for a minute, then answered that he would have to try to protect them. I then told him that the only real difference between him and me was that I would have much a better chance of succeeding. His final comment was something like, “Wow, you’ve cut me to the quick on that. I have to think about that.”

Sometimes, good people must do bad things to stop evil people!

Strictly speaking, there are no such things as good and bad impulses. Think…of a piano. It has not got two kinds of notes on it, the ‘right’ notes and the ‘wrong’ ones. Every single note is right at one time and wrong at another. The Moral Law is not any one instinct or set of instincts: it is something which makes a kind of tune (the tune we call goodness or right conduct) by directing the instincts.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

It is in this quote that we can see the defense for my comment above. The difference for me is in the character of the person and the reason for the act. Yes, good people can sometimes be called on to do bad things to protect those they care about. But they do it out of necessity, not for fun, personal gain, or on a whim. And therefore, they are willing to stand before God and be judged for their deeds.

This is the reference JD makes near the end of Montagnard.  It is also how, in real life, a Navy SEAL like Chris Kyle or Rob O’Neil, or any soldier, sailor, airmen, or marine, would be able to justify to themselves what they do and sleep at night.

Poster for the movie Act of Valor.

Evil does exist in this world. Often, it cannot be reasoned with, appeased, or avoided. Sometimes, it must be faced down. There have been a few instances in my life where I made the choice to stand against evil. I do not regret those decisions and I do not believe God will hold them against me when my time comes. 

My stories, at their core, are about facing down that evil.

The third installment in the JD Cordell Action Series I am calling Reciprocity, will delve into the dark world of human trafficking, which I think any sound-minded individual would consider an evil blight on humanity.

If you enjoyed this little philosophical meandering, please take a few minutes and check out some of my other blog posts by clicking here!

And, if you like reading an award-winning action & adventure thriller, check out my award-winning novel, Montagnard.

Just Stories, Part 1

Are your books just stories?

One friend recently asked, “Are your books just stories?” She went on to comment that I think you put your finger on a difference when recently you mentioned that redemption would be an ongoing theme in your new book.

She went on to say that my stories are brutal and that she squirmed through both of them … and that she usually quits reading a book when she’s “not having fun” with it. But she found in this last one, in the midst of all of Montagnard’s mayhem, a redemptive thread that wound through the story. This friend did like the way I handled that thread.

My short answer is … no, they are not just stories.

But the complete answer is not that simple. I will attempt to explain by way of an example.

I enlisted in the U.S. Army in July of 1979. The Vietnam War ended in April of 1975. So I missed it by several years, and I count that as a good thing. But I was old enough to later have several really close friends who were Vietnam veterans. And several of my Drill Instructors in Basic and AIT were Vietnam vets. I also served with a good number of Vietnam veterans during my four years of service. And frankly, I was aghast at how these veterans were treated when they came home from doing what their country sent them to do. These veterans were not “for” or “against” the war in Vietnam. A distinction like that only works for civilians and politicians. These soldiers, airmen, marines, and sailors were just doing their job. I quickly became fascinated with the Vietnam War.

A war the soldiers won, and the politicians lost!

As I mention in the prologue to Montagnard, the truth is that the U.S. military defeated the North Vietnamese Army. The Tet Offensive was their last gasp. Later interviews with high ranking NVA officers revealed that they were stunned when the United States pulled out. The U.S. had won the war, but somehow the country didn’t know it. The American media had been feeding the American people a very different story, and far too many bought into it. Public support had dwindled. The American military won the war, but the media and politicians gave the victory away.

Sounds eerily familiar to me …

The Fake News is nothing new

Now there’s a controversial statement for you. But it is a fact. The Vietnam War is the first war where “journalists” were embedded with the troops. Some of them did a great job and honestly reported the facts. But, there were some with an agenda.

We all remember the village of My Lai and Lt. William Calley. The My Lai Massacre was pounded into our heads by the media. And I am certainly not defending that action. However, U.S. soldiers were not prepared for the kind of war we fought in Vietnam, and neither were the American people. This was a war where the smiling young lady selling you an RC and a Moon Pie that day would be trying to slit your throat while you slept that night.

The fact is that mini “My Lai massacres” occurred nearly every day in Vietnam, and atrocities were, sadly, committed by both sides. However, the vast majority of U.S. military personnel served honorably and professionally in a war that they were totally unprepared for and was unlike any war we had ever fought before.

The North Vietnamese Army and their allies, the Viet Cong, subjected the South Vietnamese and Montagnard peoples, and any U.S. service member they got their hands on, to savage brutality that makes the My Lai Massacre pale in comparison. But you would never know that from listening to the news media. I mean, after all, we had Jane Fonda over there being photographed with an NVA anti-aircraft battery and giving a secret message pressed into her hand by an American POW at the Hanoi Hilton to the prison’s commandant!

So what does that have to do with my books?

As I mentioned before, I had several good friends who were Vietnam veterans. I don’t know if it was my personality, my role as a martial arts instructor, or what, but people have always opened up to me. I guess I am just a good listener. Over the years, I learned about some of the things my friends experienced in Vietnam and how they felt about it afterward. And I saw, first hand, how much the betrayal by their own country when they returned home, hurt them.

So, when I read or hear a comment about Serpents Underfoot, by a Vietnam veteran saying something like, “It was so nice to read something that actually portrayed the brutally of the Viet Cong for a change, instead of simply hating on U.S. soldiers,” I feel really good about that.

I don’t feel like I embellish the violence or that it is gratuitous. But, on the other hand, I do not shy away from presenting violence in its “naked” state. I guess you could say I am not very politically correct. If so, I wear that proudly.

Real stories from real people …

One Vietnam veteran in particular, became a really close friend and fellow martial artist. He died a few years ago, succumbing to health issues stemming from several tours in Vietnam. I still stay in contact with his daughter and her family.

Scenes in both Serpents Underfoot and Montagnard are based on stories he told me of his time in Vietnam, where he served as a medic on Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols (LRRP) along the borders with Laos and Cambodia. Another of his stories will be a basis for part of the next installment in the JD Cordell Action Series I am calling Reciprocity.

While I am sure the stories have truth at their core, I do allow for a little literary license on his part to make the stories more entertaining for the telling.

But this is just a piece of my story’s puzzles …

I will share more in a couple of upcoming posts. In the meantime, if you love reading a great action-adventure story, check out Serpents Underfoot, or its award-winning sequel, Montagnard.

Oh yeah!

In celebration of Labor Day, the Kindle version of Montagnard will be on sale for only .99, so if you are interested in reading it, it would be a great time to buy it! And, should you enjoy the book, please take a moment to leave an honest review on Amazon.

Thank in advance!

Lights, Camera, Maybe …

A Montagnard movie? How exciting!

While it is way too early to crack open a bottle of champagne, I am indeed discussing the possibility of a movie based on the book Montagnard with a film production company.

I have been talking to the CFO of an independent film company I was introduced to by a mutual friend. He was receptive, so I sent him a synopsis of Montagnard. He looked it over and pitched it to the CEO. Now they are both interested in the book and researching the possibility. How about that?

These are exploratory discussions on the feasibility of a movie at this point, and there are obstacles to overcome. There could be a thousand reasons why the deal falls apart. To make it this far is motivational by itself! I am excited.

A mentor advised me to proceed thoughtfully but with zero expectations. I think that is a great plan. And precisely what I intend to do.

By the way …

I have experimented with another book trailer, this one for Montagnard. Take a look and let me know what you think. I am trying to decide if I like the idea of these book trailers or not.

Trailer

If you got a kick out of this post, please take a few minutes and check out some of my other blog posts by clicking here!

And, if you love reading a great, award-winning, action-adventure thriller, check out Montagnard! Just click the button below!