Not Your Ordinary Vietnam War Stories

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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 ...
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Not Your Ordinary Vietnam War Stories

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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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781481729895
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse
  • Publication date: 3/29/2013
  • Pages: 334
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Jim Pepper served a year in Southeast Asia, saw action in six different countries, saw men die, saw men crippled by fear and withered by fatigue. Although intensely personal, veteran’s stories are colored by common threads. After formally speaking about America’s Vietnam experience for more than twenty-five years, he has learned what’s important to audiences, and what’s not. People most want to know what it was like over there.
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Read an Excerpt


By Jim Pepper


Copyright © 2013Jim Pepper
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4817-2988-8




"Were the diver to dwell on the jaws of the shark ... he would never lay his hands on the precious pearl." (Sadi Gulistan-1258)


Vietnam was America's first war during which tactical use of helicopters played a significant role. The Korean War saw a smattering of helicopters used by U.S. forces, but only a few and mostly in life saving or rescue situations. A decade later in Vietnam ... Things was different Jody.

"Jody misadventures aside ... fact is ... Things WAS different!"

"Different? How? How ... Was things different?"

Vietnam was unique in American history, in many ways; "for reasons besides the one most frequently sited ... the war's final outcome." Antagonistic, uninformed, uncaring, lazy, or callously flippant journalists or wanttabe contemporary historians attempted to pigeonhole their negative personal feelings regarding the war, or define atrocities or ugliness associated with the war, by tossing around shallow clichés. 'America lost' is but one example of many inaccurate clichés used to describe Vietnam; clichés that have virtually become history.

Glib or insincere journalists and pseudo chroniclers of contemporary events tended to gloss over defining aspects of this homely piece of American history by simplistically saying Vietnam was "an unconventional war". Journalists called Vietnam "a new kind of war". A war featuring newly coined linguistic beauties such as "tour of duty" (versus enlisting for the duration like ever body did during WW II). Terms like "indecisive outcome" (versus "decisive victories" used when referring to easy-to-understand WW II battles ... as well as WW II's final outcome). Phrases like "unclear military objectives" (used for want of more recognizable objectives such as conquering entire European countries or major cities ... or strategically located identifiable Pacific atolls and islands ... what America experienced in WW II). Journalists found it difficult to define America's current war in terms of last war's catch phrases and workable one-liners; forward transfer of last war's terminologies never really worked.

There were many legitimate differences. The Vietnam War's interminable length was a biggy. Another; the war lacked definable frontlines. A huge difference from conventional wars like WW I and II! Unprecedented TV coverage was even HUGER! Body counts, rubber body bags, odd sounding names attached to important people and places, diverse terrain and geography, odd sounding native languages, betel leaf chewing native populations, rampant diseases, widespread crippling poverty, unfamiliar national traditions and familial relationships, self-serving politics, and polarization of public opinion for the sake of winning the torrid national debate regarding the war. Take your pick, the list of "real bummers" associated with America's involvement in Vietnam went on and on ... and on and on!

And then there was the popular war versus unpopular war factor. FDR going to war against Japan on December 8th, 1941 is a great example of a magnificently "popular war". President Herbert Walker Bush going to war against Iraq to 'free Kuwait' a good example of a "not quite so popular but OK war"; remaining in Vietnam more than a decade while NEVER attaining quantifiable results the antithesis of a "popular war".

Once the wheels began falling off the bandwagon of 'automatic national support' traditionally granted America in its previous wars, a long and growing list of pin-point-able reasons cited by our rapier tongued national press helped account for America's deep rooted, widespread, and rapidly expanding disenchantment with the lingering war in Vietnam. Reaching a tipping point for reasons cited above, anti-war piling on was as inevitable as it was popular.

"Yadda! Yadda! Yadda! Anything about the Vietnam War that contemporary journalists couldn't easily understand or explain they instead clichéd to death ... until everyone was either sick and tired of hearing about the war ... or no longer gave a shit ... or were soooooooo pissed off they insisted ... to the point of rioting in the streets ... that the war end. Exploitatively graphic news footage of wounded or dying American GIs ... shown night after night by all three of America's nightly TV news broadcasts ... did little for the sagging morale of us greasy-assed grunts over there fighting the damned war. And wreaked psychological hell on good folks back home forced to watch such gruesome images OF the war......... ever frickin night ... JODY!"

"All the while ... from start to finish ... the fundamental reason for going to war remained ambiguous and impossible to define ... UN-inspiring to those of us fighting the war."

"As a surviving veteran of that inglorious war ... I have this to say about ALL that unhappy horseshit ... it boils down to ... Much has been written ... little has been said."

"Nothing has been said that that really matters. Not to us Vets. Nothing said that bears repeating here. Nothing I care to explain here. No sir! No way! Not in this story. Not in this book. Nope! This is a simple story about riding in helicopters ... three helicopters."

"And while this is neither a dissertation about history ... nor an explanation of the sorry politics that triggered America's longest ever military conflict ... I WILL say this! A few of our nation's more knowledgeable and enlightened military archivists DID correctly describe the war ... in part ... by referring to it as a helicopter war. Accurate! Descriptive of the facts! Fair! America's nonstop ... daylight to dark use of helicopters ... for hauling troops ... our gear ... our weapons ... our supplies ... INTO battle ... and for hauling our tired ... broken ... torn ... and far too often dead bodies ... AWAY from battle ... being one of the war's MOST significant historical differences. Yes! No doubt about it. Helicopters WERE part of what made Vietnam different from previous American wars."

"During my year of service in The War ... during my tour of duty ... I rode aboard that noisy hoard of locusts. One apprehensive soul among many ... one wide-eyed and wild-eyed passenger resolutely cowering in defiance of bad odds ... hitching rides aboard the millions of helicopters sent there. A fragile hitchhiker aboard America's whop-whop-whop ... whop-whop-whop ... sky train for democracy ... one avenging warrior ominously hovering in the tropical skies over Vietnam. Part of America's airlifted invading masses. A willing participant aboard an endless wave of odd appearing ... low flying ... death dealing ... flying machines the likes of which ... the incredible numbers of which ... no one had ever before seen ... in ANY war! Part of America's airborne flying circus ... part of the airborne rape of Vietnam's landscape and of every living creature that dared trod upon it. Lending more than reasonable credibility to the media's popular and vogue moniker of ... helicopter war. A justifiable name ... affixed to an ugly Tar Baby war. A war many of us Vets simply and affectionately referred to as ... The Nam."

"Stating the simple facts ... I rode on lots of helicopters. Big ones ... little ones ... blue ones ... green ones ... fast and slow ones ... high flying ... low flying ... and on a couple of occasions ... NON flying ones! Heading TO or returning FROM lots of different and interesting destinations. Yessir! I flew all over Greater SE Asia ... doing a lot of different and interesting things. B

Excerpted from NOT YOUR ORDINARY VIETNAM WAR STORIES by Jim Pepper. Copyright © 2013 by Jim Pepper. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Chapter #1 'Three Helicopter Rides'....................     1     

Chapter #2 'Annoyingly Humble'....................     35     

Chapter #3 'Finding A Spot In The Dark'....................     53     

Chapter #4 'My Main Man Merle'....................     73     

Chapter #5 'Three ... Divided By Two ... Equals Zero'....................     85     

Chapter #6 'Jimmy's War'....................     101     

Chapter #7 'Memorably Mundane'....................     119     

Chapter #8 'Goodbye Rick'....................     139     

Chapter #9 'Courage Is In the Eyes of the Beholder'....................     161     

Chapter #10 'Dear John Letter'....................     185     

Chapter #11 'Foxhole Face-Off'....................     215     

Chapter #12 'Dirty Dozen Differences'....................     235     

Chapter #13 'Fishin For Charlie'....................     265     

Chapter #14 'Late Night Rendezvous'....................     277     

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