Ches Schneider has been teaching English and history since 1966. During 1969 and 1970, he served in two combat units, the First Infantry Division and the First Air Cavalry, in the Republic of Vietnam. His military awards include the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Bronze Star for Valor, the Army Commendation Medal, an Air Medal for twenty-five combat assaults, and various Vietnamese citations. After serving in Vietnam, Ches returned to the Parkway School District and, in addition to his teaching responsibilities, has been the Department Chair of Unified Studies (a combination of English and history) for twenty-five years. He has coached track and football for seventeen years and is currently active in student-teacher development for various universities in the St. Louis area. As an educational consultant for the Reading Across Disciplines (RAD) program, Schneider has given seminars nationwide.
From Classrooms To Claymoresby Ches Schneider
heat, and superhuman toil."
By late 1969, the end of the war was just over the horizon. But for Ches Schneider, a drafted schoolteacher turned infantry grunt in the deadly Central Highlands, it was just beginning. This story of a Missouri boy, told with grit
"Vietnam was a fantasy life of gunfire, blood,
heat, and superhuman toil."
By late 1969, the end of the war was just over the horizon. But for Ches Schneider, a drafted schoolteacher turned infantry grunt in the deadly Central Highlands, it was just beginning. This story of a Missouri boy, told with grit and honesty, describes the stark transition from the normalcy of schooldays to the life-and-death drama endured daily in Vietnam's bloody jungles.
As a soldier in the 1st Infantry Division, Schneider went out on twelve-man search-and-destroy combat missions, never knowing whether the next moment would bring an ambush, a firefight, or eternal oblivion. Later, when the Big Red One rotated back to the U.S., he was transferred to the 1st Cav and fought it out with the NVA in the steamy jungles of Phuoc Long Province near the Cambodian border. As an ordinary man in extraordinary times, Schneider realistically captures the pain, loss, sacrifice, and courage of the men who fought for their lives even as the war wound down . . . .
- Random House Publishing Group
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Places the reader right down on the ground with the grunts. After reading this novel, if anyone thinks war is fun and games, that person needs serious help. These men went through Hell, the Army leadership core wore thin very fast during the early years of the RVN war, and we had the blind leading the blind. Until Gen. Abarms took command we were just walking around - accomplished very little, and lost many KIA's and WIA's. We as a nation should had learnt the lesson, but it appears we did not.
'All the books in the world couldn't teach him the first thing about Vietnam' reads a banner on the cover of FROM CLASSROOMS TO CLAYMORES: A TEACHER AT WAR IN VIETNAM, Ches Schneider's memoir of his time serving in America's most unpopular war. Drafted just shy of his 26th birthday, Schneider had to leave his cushy job teaching junior high students their history and English and become an infantry soldier in the steaming jungles of the Central Highlands of Vietnam in late 1969. This is when the war is winding down and there doesn't seem to be much purpose in heroic action. Instead of fleeing to Canada, he adapts himself to the grim realities of Army life and survival under combat conditions. He tells his story with wit and honesty, first as a soldier with the 1st Infantry Division going out on search and destroy missions and later, when the Big Red One was rotated back to the U.S., engaging the North Vietnamese with the 1st Cavalry Division near the Cambodian Border. I found many similarities to my own experience as a replacement rifleman in the 6th Infantry Division during the liberation of the Philippine Islands during World War II: the way a replacement is received into an infantry unit in combat, the Army system that never seems to really change very much from one war to another, and how the Army still disposes of fecal matter in tropical climes -- by burning it. There were many differences, of course, from the Claymore mines to the far greater fire power of the Vietnam era, and the vernacular that the grunts speak. Fortunately, Schneider provides a Glossary for the uninitiated. Seventeen pictures also provide realistic scenes which help understand what theses soldiers were doing. A more detailed map or two would have been very useful. The one provided is rather general. All in all, it's a great read.