While I was in Vietnam, I maintained a diary and sketchbook along with unit activity reports of events that took place. These items, along with over 400 photos remained locked away in an old Army footlocker for twenty-eight years, as I tried to put Vietnam behind me, but I sadly discovered that to bear the "Mark" of war, that the ghosts still come back to haunt you. I have written a 400 page book over the last two years entitled "Don's Nam" and it takes you from my rural background in North Louisiana where I grew up in the late forties and fifties to the war in Vietnam. You may email me if you want information about the book. Also you may also preview the first twenty-five pages for free. I believe that the book is different than most war books because it is not the "John Wayne" shoot em' up often found in war books.
I was born in 1945 at Brownwood, Texas, but remember very little as most of younger years were spent growing up in and around Shreveport, Louisiana. The fifties were times of black and white television, polio, and racial segregation to name a few things. I was raised in a middle-income family that is considered very different than families are nowadays. Mom, like most others, stayed at home, while Dad taught school. He made about $100 a week in those years, but we never longed for things, because this was about what people made back then.
As a child growing up, I was fascinated by war. My uncles had all been in World War Two or Korea, so I just thought it was natural that someday I would get my chance too. In high school, I took junior ROTC, and was even on the rifle team. The commies were evil guys to our youthful eyes, and we longed to get them, if offered the chance. After high school, I attended LSU, and it was there that I took four more years of ROTC. I joined the "Army Bengal Raiders," which was one of the first university counter-guerilla units formed in the United States. The war in Vietnam was growing in those days, and most of us knew we were going. Trey Prather, a personal friend of mine, and, also the LSU football quarterback, dropped out of school and joined the Marines. He stepped on a land mine shortly after arriving in Vietnam, and died from his wounds. This made me start thinking, that maybe wars are not the macho things that Hollywood movies made them out to be. Captain James B. Hansard was our faculty advisor for the "Bengal Raiders," and already had one tour with the First Calvary, when he received orders for a second tour. I shook hands with him just before he left. I was the "Bengal Raider" commander at the time, and considered him a close friend. He told me that he might not make it back this time. I just laughed, and said, "I'll see you over there in a few months." He was killed near Dau Tieng in War Zone C shortly thereafter. To this day, I still remember his firm handshake, and his photo still hangs in the LSU ROTC building in memory. The war was turning on a little bit of sourness, and some folks were beginning to wonder if the cause was just.
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