Death Angel: A Vietnam Memoir of a Bearer of Death Messages to Families

Overview

At 17 the author enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps with dreams of becoming a hero. Two years later, a disillusioned young man returned from a tour of Vietnam, his new assignment, recruiting: finding a "few good men" for the Corps—and soon, too often, delivering death messages to the families of those he had recruited. Here are gut-wrenching memories of a Marine's service in Vietnam, the grief of the parents, and the burden of guilt suffered by the bearer of the news. Sergeant Spiller's emotional turmoil was ...

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Overview

At 17 the author enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps with dreams of becoming a hero. Two years later, a disillusioned young man returned from a tour of Vietnam, his new assignment, recruiting: finding a "few good men" for the Corps—and soon, too often, delivering death messages to the families of those he had recruited. Here are gut-wrenching memories of a Marine's service in Vietnam, the grief of the parents, and the burden of guilt suffered by the bearer of the news. Sergeant Spiller's emotional turmoil was similar to that of many who first saw the war as an heroic opportunity and then lost heart.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Memoirs like Spiller's are in short supply. His story unfolds with his initiation into the Marines at age 17 in June 1963. He returns home over a year later, unable to connect with his family, and eventually reenlists. For the next six years he is assigned to the Cape Girardeau, Missouri Recruiting Office. His duty: to notify personally the relatives of wounded and dead soldiers, including some of his own enlistees. Spiller's unemotional narrative is effective here, and we are moved each time the predictable panic erupts in the face of a mother or father on the other side of the screen door as the ``death angel'' in uniform approaches their home. Told in the third person, Spiller's story is simple, unsophisticated, and detached. While the technical flaws are distracting (uneven indexing; the arbitrary placement of five photographs; and occasional trivial details), this work begins to flesh out an important aspect of Vietnam War history. Recommended for subject collections and for public and high school libraries.-- Pamela J. Peters, SUNY-SICAS Ctr., Oneonta
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786467419
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/13/2011
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 263
  • Sales rank: 972,722
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Harry Spiller served two tours in Vietnam with the Marine Corps. A retired professor of criminal justice and former sheriff of Williamson County, Illinois, he lives in West Frankfort, Illinois.

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