Bright Lightby Stephen Perry
Bright Light is the true story of the author's training as a green beret medical specialist and his service with the top secret MACV SOG. The book reveals, for the first time, firsthand accounts of dangerous black operations behind enemy lines during the peak of the Vietnam War. The author also shares the sometimes humorous happenings within the relative safety of the base camp and his warnings for our actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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I just finished reading Bright Light as I lay on my fiancés couch in Tustin, CA. What can I say? I thoroughly enjoyed reading Bright Light and didn't want it end. Instead it made me yearn to put on a set of cammies and some jungle boots and head out on the next mission with you. I feel that I am walking a little taller knowing that I too was able to make it through the training and was allowed to serve as a Green Beret Medic and therefore we are Brothers. It's just that your book makes feel me prouder, as I still find it difficult to share and put down in words what I did. Even though I served during a later time period under different circumstances in Central America, I could relate completely to your book- to the missions, to looking forward to steak dinners and to reflecting back on home, while I was in the jungle. Bright Light is neither a political book nor one that tries to explain the whole history of our involvement in Vietnam. I have read my fair share of those types of books. Instead you share a very personal and human look into the daily life and activities of a Special Forces Soldier during trying times. What you did and how you thought and felt. Yet you keep it real- down to earth; informative, yet enjoyable and non-presumptuous. You truly are a California boy-next-door who dreamed and then went after those dreams in the service of our Country. In my book, MI VIDA, I did not know how to go about trying to explain and describe the events and activities I was involved in as a Special Forces Medical Sergeant. So I really did not try to. You did such a great job in doing just that. Now I am looking forward to my fiancé and daughters reading Bright Light next. I still find it hard to put into words what I did in Central America. Bright Light does the job by balancing the soldier's life with the thoughts and feelings of the person. Thank you for your service and your book! Jose N Harris Author of MI VIDA: A Story of Faith, Hope and Love Former Army Medic- Paratrooper, Airborne Ranger and Green Beret and Veteran of Central American Operations (1980-92)
There are many memoirs of intense combat in the jungles, rice paddies and hill tops during the Vietnam War, and Stephen Perry's "Bright Light" is no exception. All memoirs of combat have one theme in common: the adrenalin experienced by the combatant can never be equaled in civilian life. Mr. Perry exemplifies this by stating at the outset of this short but intense book with the following Study and Observations Group (SOG) motto: "You've never lived until you have almost died, for those who fight for it; life has a flavor that the protected will never know." This motto takes on special meaning when Perry vehemently points a finger at the people he blames the most for losing the war, i.e. the politicians in a rush to get America out of Vietnam regardless of the promises we had made to that country and the protesters on the streets of America which turned an American victory into an unnecessary defeat. In his dedication, Mr. Perry reminds us that not all casualties of the Vietnam War are accounted for with the following lament: "This book is dedicated to the military forces of the U.S., especially to those left behind in the seething jungles of Vietnam. We must never allow their sacrifice to be in vain!" The author ends this memoir with a current day warning that there can be "no more Vietnam's for this country!" Stephen Perry continues with his scathing attack on the embarrassment and stigma surrounding this conflict. One of the most infamous atrocities of the war was the Communist occupation and ensuing slaughter of all opposed to the North's regime after their temporary occupation of Hue. Perry reflects on this as follows: "Civilians were taken prisoner by the NVA in Hue and were to be tried for "crimes against the people." We later learned that many such people were tried and killed by the Communists and buried in mass graves. These are the peace loving people of Hanoi, Jane Fonda, and the peace creeps back home. We, who served here, had a very different impression of these barbarians." Obviously, Mr. Perry's words will never be found in official U.S. historical versions of the Vietnam War, all sanitized and glossed over. However, there are three sides to every argument, the historical "official version," the combatant's such as Mr. Perry's memoir, and the truth. This book adds much to the ladder. Mr. Perry today looks back at the massive anti-Vietnam War protests and remarks: "Their cries of protest echoed around the world, encouraging our enemies, and finally led to our dishonorable withdrawal from Vietnam. Many fine Americans had given their lives to free the oppressed in South Vietnam, and their work was almost done before Walter Cronkite wrongly announced on national television in 1968 that "we are losing the war in Vietnam." On August 23, 1968, Stephen Perry's tour in Vietnam ended. After a seventeen hour flight from Vietnam to Oakland, with stops in Australia and Hawaii, he processed out of the Army and left for his Huntington Beach residence. Perry laments: "En route, I was confronted by some long haired hippies at the San Francisco airport that shouted obscenities and called me a "baby killer." What had happened to my country while I was away?" "Bright Light" is an essential book in knowing the complete story of this conflict, and as such Stephen Perry has indeed added a poignant contribution.