After graduating from the University of Missouri in 1969 I was commissioned as an officer in the Marines. I served an interesting ‘tour of duty’ in Southeast Asia in 1972, during which time I was “in and out” of six different countries…including Vietnam. A greenhorn lieutenant when I landed, I was eventually promoted to captain. Because of my God given ‘take charge personality’ and a few “very junior officer” notable accomplishments I found myself frequently being handpicked for special assignments. I ‘saw action’ with seven different units…some good …some bad…some ugly. I saw men die. I saw capable men withered by fatigue, brave men crippled by fear. Since I served, more than forty years ago now, I have had the pleasure and privilege of meeting and getting to know hundreds of fellow-Vietnam Vets; short term acquaintances, professional colleagues, neighbors, close friends, family members. Although our individual Vietnam stories are unique and intensely personal, I have come to realize that a common thread runs through most of them. For more than twenty-five years I have been asked to formally speak to sundry civic organizations, history classes, and social gatherings. As a result of fielding thousands of audience questions and listening to their spontaneous reactions to my “talks” I have learned what people are interesting in hearing. I have seen their reactions to my version of America’s ‘Vietnam experience’. I know what’s interesting and what’s not; what’s important to those who weren’t there, ordinary people who merely wonder ‘what it was like’. I have enjoyed two “successful careers” and am currently embarked upon my third. I have fired most of life’s best bullets, emptied most of my chosen weapon’s most precious magazines, drained my fullest canteens, exhausted most of my allotted time on this fair planet we call earth. I want to share a few of the stories of men I served with, men I came to know later in life, men I loved as brothers-in-arms surviving in harm’s way; or men who were simply ‘Crazy Vietnam Vets’ (like me) with a special story to tell. “Men JUST like me…only different!” Ours are interesting up and down tales of wonder and weird, of good times and bad. I am happily married to a “seasoned” school nurse, am the father of three college educated sons, and have two fine grandsons. I live in Blanco, Texas about forty miles due west of Austin. I have always viewed life’s glass as half full; hope you enjoy our ‘Not Ordinary’ war stories.
“I served a year in SE Asia. Saw action in six different countries…saw men die…saw men crippled by fear and withered by fatigue. Although intensely personal…we veteran’s stories are colored by common threads. After formally speaking about America’s ‘Vietnam Experience’ for more than 25 years I’ve learned what’s important to audiences…and what’s not. People most want to know…What was it like over there.” “I dedicate this book to my older and bigger brother Ben…First Sergeant B.A. ‘Ben’ Pepper. Son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, friend and companion to those of us who know him best…the man I often refer to as…the REAL Marine in our family.”
A very well written book by a very brave man. Thx again Jim for your service to our country. Love your book. Reading it with a cold beer and wish you were here to tell me more. I have an email I would love to share with you about the Nam but cannot get in touch with you.Halbecker99@yahoo.com