When the 160 men of Charlie Company were drafted by the US Army in May 1966, they were part of the wave of conscription that would swell the American military to eighty thousand combat troops in Vietnam by the height of the war in 1968. In the spring of 1966 the war was still popular, and the draftees of Charlie Company saw their service as a rite of passage. But by December 1967, when the company returned home, only thirty men were not casualties - and they were among the first veterans of the war to be spit on and harassed by war protesters as they arrived back home.
In The Boys of '67, Andrew Wiest, the award-winning author of Vietnam's Forgotten Army and The Vietnam War 1956-1975, examines the experiences of a company from the only division in the Vietnam era to train and deploy together in similar fashion to World War II's famous 101st Airborne Division.
Wiest interviewed more than fifty officers and enlisted men who served with Charlie Company, including the surviving platoon leaders and both of the company's commanders. In addition, he interviewed fifteen family members of Charlie Company veterans, including wives, children, parents, and siblings. Wiest also had access to personal papers, collections of letters, a diary, an abundance of newspaper clippings, training notebooks, field manuals,condolence letters, and photographs from before, during, and after the conflict.
As Wiest shows, the fighting that Charlie Company saw in1967 was nearly as bloody as many of the better publicized battles, including the infamous battles of the Ia Drang Valley and Hamburger Hill. As a result, many of the surviving members of Charlie Company came home with what the military now recognizes as post-traumatic stress disorder - a diagnosis that was not recognized until the late 1970s and was not widely treated until the 1980s.
Only recently, after more than forty years, have many members of Charlie Company achieved any real and sustained relief from their suffering.
©2012 Andrew Wiest (P)2013 Blackstone Audio
Most of us have seen the multitude of Vietnam war movies and get an inkling of what it must have been like to be a soldier in Vietnam. However, what many of those films do not tell is the story of what happens to these men after the war. This book tells both the gripping accounts of combat as well as the far lengthier aftermath and takes the reader on a real journey following a group of men from training to retirement. Along the way we become familiar with the collection of characters that populate this book and we can better appreciate the true band of brothers that the bonds forged by deadly combat and the hardships of war create.
Initially I was wondering if I had made a mistake purchasing this book given the lengthy and quite extensive cast of characters the author introduced. There were too many to keep in my head and names became lost in the list of men being introduced into the story. To begin with I saw this as a negative aspect of the book thinking that the author has focused on too broad a group of men to be able to deal with but as the book progressed the names began to stick. Even if I forgot from time to time who was being discussed, the author would helpfully repeat something about them that helped place them in the readers mind. I have to say that I am very pleased I stuck with this book.
After the men have been introduced, we swiftly move on to basic training and there are plenty of amusing stories which help to cement the various men into a band of brothers rather than disparate people. Then comes the baptism of fire as we go on patrol with Charlie company. Harrowing and often sad accounts of battles are told here that really immerse the reader into the combat by some excellent writing. I was literally unable to put this book down due to the compelling story being told here. There are so many touching stories of bravery, fear and all the other human factors that play out on the battlefield that really illustrates how much these men endured.
The second part of the book is just as enthralling as the author traces the often troubled lives of many of the men who survived Vietnam only to continue their suffering.
A truly amazing read and one I'd recommend to anyone.
"Excitement to Reality"
Charlie Company was once again being used as a name for a group of soldier's who grew to become a very tight community of young men who went to fight the war in Vietnam. The first group of Charlie Company fought together in WWII. There has not been another Charlie Company since Vietnam.
The members of Charlie Company were very young, 19 to 23 years old, when they first arrived in Vietnam. Some were drafted. They would receive their draft papers in the mail and were told when and where to report. Most in Charlie Company were draftee's but some had enlisted.
Without consciously realizing what was happening, the men paired off and became such enduring friends, that they became closer than brothers. They waited impatiently for their first conflict to occur.
The first conflict happened and Charlie Company was baptized in the blood of war. They were no longer young. These MEN were now warrior's who now understood the words, what to kill or be killed truly meant. As there buddies were killed or maimed by enemy fire it became impossible for them to form another close relationship. When the replacements arrived, who took the place of those brother's who were no longer a part of Charlie Company, the original member's tolerated them but did not become their friend's.
One of the men of Charlie Company was a conscientious objector and agreed to be drafted but only as a medic who would never carry a gun. He would be killed but not kill. He did survive his tour of duty, never to have the scourge of PTSD present itself.
This was not so for quite a few of the other 29 men who made it home out of the 130 of the original men of Charlie Company. Some were able to struggle through life as a contributor to society. They were able to hold down a job, marry and have children but continued to suffer through PTSD.
However, there were other survivors who functioned poorly in society or were unable to deal with real life at all. Some of these men became what we refer to as the"homeless."
Some of the survivor's who suffered from PTSD did not like crowds. They would scan their surroundings looking for any enemies. When hearing the back fire of a car they would fall to the ground, looking for cover so as to protect themselves from death. Their dreams were as real as if they were actually fighting in a previous battle.
I found the true story, The Boys of "67: Charlie's Company War in Vietnam, very sobering. The story made we see just what happened when the men fighting in a war had to raise a gun and shoot another man. They were given permission to kill. They learned too quickly what the cruelty of war really was.
There was depth and true feelings written into the words of the author, Andrew West. If you do read this book you will understand what the war in Vietnam was like. These men fought hard for their country, our country, the USA. Many of these men died or were maimed for life. It would take time but PTSD was finally realized for what it was, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Although the men did survive the war some of these men had minds that did not survive the war.
Why the Vietnam War became a war that wanted to be forgotten, I'll never understand. These men answered the call of their nation. When their country needed men to protect their country, the men who went to Vietnam and fought as hard as any man in any war of the past. Give these men the honor that they deserve.
The narrator made the book come alive. I was able to feel the fear, see the bunkers, get into the mind of a man who did not want to kill but had no other choice but to die himself and understand why these men still cannot leave the war behind after 30 years.
There have also been medical problems that these men have taken home with them when the jungles were sprayed with "agent orange." Agent orange was used to kill the vegetation so prevalent in the jungles of Vietnam. Some suffer from skin problems that never will go away, there are others that have had varied types of cancer appear and the newest finding is that agent orange also can cause diabetes.
Read this book and realize that the Vietnam War is a war to remember.
"A story that should never be forgotten"
The story is depicted in great detail to the point it leaves you with a full understanding of it at the end. To the men of C Co that were drafted together and made it out together it is amazing that they shared there story. A heartfelt thank you to the men who served in Vietnam
"Terrific Narration & Great Book"
How the US soldiers in Vietnam served their country honorably
The story of Peterson's funeral and his widow's ordeal. The story of the anti-war protests made me angry and sorry for the returning veterans. What the protesters did was in excusable and shameful.
First book I have read that portrayed American soldiers in Vietnam in a favorable light. Most other depictions show drug addicted GI's as incompetents, cowards or both; and because if this, innocents are frequently killed. However, Dr. Wiest's book tells a story of Vietnam vets experiencing war a lot like veterans from other conflicts. They are not there by choice but they want to do their duty, they believe in their country, but they ultimately fight for each other - and they serve with pride and distinction. A wonderful book.
Very well researched and well written. Narrator was perfect. Worth buying even without a credit.
Very powerful telling of the horrors of war. The huge toll it takes on the young men who live through it. And the strength of their bonds that were forged through the severe ravages they endured.
This book brought tears to my eyes multiple times, even though I was never in Vietnam... made me feel like I was there.
absolutely riveting, first class story about first class people that are truly America's role models.
"So Far my Favorite Book on Vietnam"
The author goes into great detail of each solder, his past, personality etc.
A solder was struggling with the physical part of basic training and while at basic training his father died. Because of that he was given an out of basic training and deployment but he refused.
I have listened to several books on Vietnam, for example: Last Stand at the Khe Sanh and Matterhorn and this was by far the most entertaining and attention keeping book. The others mentioned were good but I personally thought from start to finish this was the best.
besides the Intriguing Battlefield stories what gripped me the most was the stories of these men after Vietnam when they got home and their struggles and their Revelations and their rebirths a great read
The best overall view of who the people were who went to and fought in Vietnam and how it affected their lives.
"An excellent book"
Having served during this time (not in Vietnam ) I found this book an excellent reminder of the times and troubled country. I highly recommend it.
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