is not just another ‘Nam
story; this is the tale of a warrior – the author Richard Taylor. This highly motivated individual made the US
Army his career and he earned his credentials the hard way as an officer during
the Vietnam War.
is worth saying from the outset that this is not just another story of
patriotism and high ideals turning to the ashes of disillusionment and despair
in the face of the experience of a controversial conflict; this is a factual
account written, as we find out, as a cathartic experience only recently. Taylor’s
regrets are mainly for the men who never came back and his memories are clearly
still haunted by them.
book is in 3 neat sections. The first
describes Taylor’s experiences as an advisor to
ARVN (South Vietnamese Army) forces in the Mekong
delta area from 1967 to 1968. Those with
a knowledge of the Vietnam War will immediately realise that Taylor was there
during the infamous Tet Offensive and his account of the actions of the 7th
ARVN Division during that Offensive are fascinating; if only to see what
happens when a unit fights itself to a state of tactical impudence – basically
you dig in, sit tight and hope your side gets to you before the enemy realises
you are reduced to throwing rocks (not quite that in Taylor’s case). One thing that surprised me about Taylor’s time as an
advisor is how, apparently, ill prepared he had been to take on this role. He learned on the job and took various
correspondence courses on important subjects like calling in fire support! Just as well, as that seemed to be what his
main purpose was for as far as the ARVN officers were concerned!
second section covers the period between Taylor’s
two tours of Vietnam
– Ranger training and meeting the love of his life! This section throws up a theme that will be
achingly familiar to all family men in the armed forces – balancing the demands
of a military career with those of a family.
too soon though we are back in the action in the books third section as Taylor begins his second
tour (between 1970 and 1971) as, eventually, a company commander in the 7th
Cavalry – the Gary Owen! For me this was
the most interesting part of this book as Taylor,
clearly a consummate, dedicated officer and warrior becomes increasingly
disenchanted with how the withdrawal of US forces impacts on the performance of
the troops in the field. This is not
helped by him losing his precious Bravo Company to become Battalion
Intel.officer and by his separation from his wife and family.
is a well written book that comfortably combines an account of day to day
military activity during two key parts of the Vietnam War with a somewhat
philosophical angle relating to the loss of comrades and the long term impact
of war on even the most dedicated of warriors.
It is neither Chickenhawk nor The Shorttimers but it is something that
anyone with an interest in military matters would do well to read as the themes
are as relevant now as they were when first experienced by Taylor 40+ years ago!
now from Casemate in paperback, priced £14.00 (ISBN 9781935149866)
Written by: Paul Robinson, Staff Writer