The Boys of '67: Charlie Company's War in Vietnam

The Boys of '67: Charlie Company's War in Vietnam

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by Andrew Wiest
     
 

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When the 160 men of Charlie Company (4th Battalion/47th Infantry/9th ID) were drafted by the US Army in May 1966, they were part of the wave of conscription that would swell the American military to 80,000 combat troops in theater by the height of the war in 1968. In the spring of 1966, the war was still popular and the draftees of Charlie Company saw their service

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Overview

When the 160 men of Charlie Company (4th Battalion/47th Infantry/9th ID) were drafted by the US Army in May 1966, they were part of the wave of conscription that would swell the American military to 80,000 combat troops in theater by the height of the war in 1968. In the spring of 1966, the war was still popular and the draftees of Charlie Company saw their service as a rite of passage. But by December 1967, when the company rotated home, only 30 men were not casualties—and they were among the first vets of the war to be spit on and harassed by war protestors as they arrived back the U.S.
 
In his new book, The Boys of ’67, Andy Wiest, the award-winning author of Vietnam’s Forgotten Army and The Vietnam War 1956-1975, examines the experiences of a company from the only division in the Vietnam era to train and deploy together in similar fashion to WWII’s famous 101st Airborne Division.
 
Wiest interviewed more than 50 officers and enlisted men who served with Charlie Company, including the surviving platoon leaders and both of the company’s commanders. (One of the platoon leaders, Lt Jack Benedick, lost both of his legs, but went on to become a champion skier.) In addition, he interviewed 15 family members of Charlie Company veterans, including wives, children, parents, and siblings. Wiest also had access to personal papers, collections of letters, a diary, an abundance of newspaper clippings, training notebooks, field manuals, condolence letters, and photographs from before, during, and after the conflict.
 
As Wiest shows, the fighting that Charlie Company saw in 1967 was nearly as bloody as many of the better publicized battles, including the infamous ‘Ia Drang’ and ‘Hamburger Hill.’ As a result, many of the surviving members of Charlie Company came home with what the military now recognizes as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder—a diagnosis that was not recognized until the late 1970s and was not widely treated until the 1980s. Only recently, after more than 40 years, have many members of Charlie Company achieved any real and sustained relief from their suffering. 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Wiest (coauthor, Vietnam’s Forgotten Army), who teaches Vietnam War history at the University of Southern Mississippi, concentrates on the human side of the Vietnam War with an in-depth chronicle of a group of men drafted into the army in 1966 and trained together with the 9th Infantry Division, the only division of draftees that was “raised, drafted, and trained for service in the Vietnam War,” Weist notes, and thus developed unusually strong bonds. After training in the States, the men went to Vietnam in January 1967 as a unit on a troop ship. Very few other American fighting units shipped out to Vietnam; the overwhelming majority arrived singly as replacements because of the one-year rotation system. In Vietnam, the men of Charlie Company slogged through the worst the war had to offer. The unit lost half its members to death and injury within two months, and too many of the men suffered anew after returning home, battling posttraumatic stress disorder for decades. Wiest spent three years interviewing 61 officers and men of Charlie Company, 4th Battalion, 47th Infantry. He tells their stories well and empathically, especially those of the dozen or so men whose lives he examines closely before, during, and after their service in the nation’s most controversial overseas war. Illus. (Sept. 18)
From the Publisher
“Thoughtful and richly detailed, this outstanding account of the early phase of the War in Vietnam takes us into the forbidding Mekong River Delta with the men of Charlie Company, to witness their harrowing firefights and their fleeting victories, to appreciate the singular combat experience haunting their dreams and those of their country.”
—Hugh Ambrose, Author of The Pacific
 
“A powerful account of conflict, Andy Wiest’s The Boys of ’67 provides what is all-too-rare, a ‘face of battle’ account that is at once scholarly and well-written, perceptive and engaging.”
—Jeremy Black, author of War since 1945
 
The Boys of 67 is an exceptionally well researched and well told story of an exceptional US Army infantry company in Vietnam. Andrew Wiest sheds light and understanding on the human and psychological dimension of war and the aftermath of war.  It is a story of courage, comradeship, tribulation, suffering, and perseverance.”
—Brigadier General H. R. McMaster, author of Dereliction of Duty
 
The Boys of'67 follows a single infantry company in a single year of the Vietnam War . It ia a story of men who routinely put their lives into each others' hands. It is a story of fear and heroism; of  waste, confusion, boredom—and their impact on those who return home.  Wiest's empathy and perception make the book as emotionally compelling as it is intellectually  penetrating, impossible to read with a detached mind or dry eyes.”
—Dennis Showalter, author of Hitler’s Panzers
 
“This is a story of men at war in the tradition of A Band of Brothers. It is a remarkable book written by a master storyteller and meticulous historian. I cannot recommend it strongly enough, particularly for fellow Vietnam veterans and their families, military historians, and anyone interested in what American soldiers went through in the Vietnam War.”
—James H. Willbanks, PhD, is a Vietnam veteran and author of Abandoning Vietnam and The Battle of An Loc

"This book is a superb story of a U.S. Army company in combat. As with Marine Lt. Phil Caputo's memoir, A Rumor of War, The Boys of '67 is simply a story about war, the things men do in war and the things war does to them. The saga of the American soldier remains an important story that deserves to be told. Readers are in Wiest's dept for making Charlie Company's story accessible to the American Public."
—COL Cole C. Kingseed, Army Magazine

"...
Wiest concentrates on the human side of the conflict ... [he] spent three years interviewing sixty-one officers and men of Charlie Company, 4th Battalion, 47th Infantry. He tells their stories well and emphatically..."
—Marc Leepson, Vietnam Veterans of America (September/October 2012)

"This is a compelling and intimate look at one unit's wartime experience, filled with loss, excitement, humor, and pain that readers of wartime memoirs will especially want to share."
Library Journal (October 15, 2012)

"This intimate, hardback book is illustrated with 25 color and 10 black and white illustrations. Its publication coincides with the 45th anniversary of Charlie Company’s tour of duty in Vietnam. The Boys of ’67 delivers the unvarnished truth about the men’s experiences from the chaos of combat to the challenges they have faced reintegrating into society."
Toy Soldier & Model Figure (January 2013)

"Vietnam has been the subject of countless books: this is one of the best. Exhaustively researched and expertly written, it allows us a glimpse of the intense bonds of comradeship forged by soldiers in the white heat of combat."
—Saul David, BBC History Magazine (January 2013)

"...a powerful Vietnam testimony that's a 'must' for any military collection!"
- James A. Cox, The Midwest Book Review

"Wiest’s use of personal interviews and letters home put a personal touch on the book. I felt a growing sense of attachment to the men of Charlie Company as the book progressed, felt a sense of their heartache when their brothers died, and I sympathized for many of them who struggled with PTSD following the war. Wiest addresses the ugliness and humanity of war, but also the loving bonds that are created between men who experience war together and the indelible marks it leaves on their minds." 
—Abigail Pfeiffer, Armchair General

“In the final analysis, this book is a superb story of a US Army company in combat... The Boys of ‘67 is simply a story about war, the things men do in war and the things war does to them. The saga of the American soldier remains an important story that deserves to be told. Readers are in Wiest’s debt for making Charlie Company’s story accessible to the American public.”
—Col. Cole C. Kingseed, USA Ret.

"...this book is a superb story of a US Army company in combat ... The Boys of '67 is simply a story about war, the things men do in war and the things war does to them. The saga of the American soldier remains an imoprtant story that deserves to be told. Readers are in Wiest's debt for making Charlie Company's story accessible to the American public."
ARMY Magazine (May 2013)

"I recommend this book to any person who served, or who knows someone that did serve in Viet Nam, or to anyone who wants to know what it is like to be in a combat zone during a firefight in the Viet Nam war. This book is not for the feint of heart, as it contains some rather graphic descriptions of wounds and casualties, and is heart-wrenching in its story that will affect the young and the old."
- Richard Mataka, www.mataka.org (June 2013)

Library Journal
Wiest (history, Univ. of Southern Mississippi) tells the story of the 9th Infantry Division's Charlie Company, an all-draftee unit made up of soldiers from all over the country. The members of the unit all entered the service at the same time, trained together, and went to Vietnam together. After a chance encounter with one veteran of Charlie Company, Wiest interviewed more than 60 others, as well as family members of some who did not make it home, to discover not only the story of this unit in the Vietnam War, but to reveal the individuals and families involved. The author supplements these oral histories with archival research, though he does not provide source notes. VERDICT This is a compelling and intimate look at one unit's wartime experience, filled with loss, excitement, humor, and pain that readers of wartime memoirs will especially want to share.—MM

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781780962023
Publisher:
Osprey Publishing, Limited
Publication date:
09/18/2012
Series:
General Military Series
Pages:
376
Sales rank:
431,052
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.32(h) x 1.34(d)

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“Thoughtful and richly detailed, this outstanding account of the early phase of the War in Vietnam takes us into the forbidding Mekong River Delta with the men of Charlie Company, to witness their harrowing firefights and their fleeting victories, to appreciate the singular combat experience haunting their dreams and those of their country.”
—Hugh Ambrose, Author of The Pacific
 
“A powerful account of conflict, Andy Wiest’s The Boys of ’67 provides what is all-too-rare, a ‘face of battle’ account that is at once scholarly and well-written, perceptive and engaging.”
—Jeremy Black, author of War since 1945
 
“The Boys of 67 is an exceptionally well researched and well told story of an exceptional US Army infantry company in Vietnam. Charlie Company trained together, fought together, and bled together.  Andrew Wiest sheds light and understanding on the human and psychological dimension of war and the aftermath of war.  It is a story of courage, comradeship, tribulation, suffering, and perseverance.”
—Brigadier General H. R. McMaster, author of Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam
 
“The Boys of'67  folllows a single infantry company in a single year of the Vietnam War . It ia a story of men who routinely put their lives into each others' hands. It is a story of fear and heroism; of  waste, confusion, boredom—and their impact on those who return home.  Wiest's empathy and perception make the book as emotioally compelling as it is intellectually  penetrating, impossible to read with a detached mind or dry eyes.”
—Dennis Showalter, author of Hitler’s Panzers: The Lightning Attacks that Revolutionized Warfare
 
“This is a story of men at war in the tradition of A Band of Brothers. It is a remarkable book written by a master story teller and meticulous historian.  Professor Wiest very effectively demonstrates in extremely personal terms the impact of the war, both good and bad, on the soldiers who did the fighting, while also very eloquently addressing the cost of the war on those left behind at home.  I cannot recommend it strongly enough, particularly for fellow Vietnam veterans and their families, military historians, and anyone interested in what American soldiers went through in the Vietnam War.”
—James H. Willbanks, PhD, is a Vietnam veteran and author of Abandoning Vietnam and The Battle of An Loc

"Wiest’s use of personal interviews and letters home put a personal touch on the book. I felt a growing sense of attachment to the men of Charlie Company as the book progressed, felt a sense of their heartache when their brothers died, and I sympathized for many of them who struggled with PTSD following the war. Wiest addresses the ugliness and humanity of war, but also the loving bonds that are created between men who experience war together and the indelible marks it leaves on their minds."
—Abigail Pfeiffer, Armchair General

"...Wiest concentrates on the human side of the conflict ... [he] spent three years interviewing sixty-one officers and men of Charlie Company, 4th Battalion, 47th Infantry. He tells their stories well and emphatically..."
—Marc Leepson, Vietnam Veterans of America (September/October 2012)

"I have been forever fascinated with the Vietnam War — most especially with the politics and behind-the-scene machinations behind America's involvement, but also with the growth and outright explosion of US opposition to the war, and the aftermath, as the soldiers came home, or did not. But what really gets to me are the compelling stories of the people who were actually there. The Boys of '67 briefly but powerfully examines the lives of a group of men from Charlie Company in the US Army's 9th Infantry Division — from the time they received their greetings from Uncle Sam through their individual returns home and beyond. It is a fine addition to the already-existing collection of personal histories of the war, focusing largely on the special bonds forged between these former strangers turned family throughout their year in Vietnam."
—Nancy Oakes, www.2010theyearinbooks.com

"This is a compelling and intimate look at one unit's wartime experience, filled with loss, excitement, humor, and pain that readers of wartime memoirs will especially want to share."
Library Journal (October 15, 2012)

"This intimate, hardback book is illustrated with 25 color and 10 black and white illustrations. Its publication coincides with the 45th anniversary of Charlie Company’s tour of duty in Vietnam. The Boys of ’67 delivers the unvarnished truth about the men’s experiences from the chaos of combat to the challenges they have faced reintegrating into society."
Toy Soldier & Model Figure (January 2013)

"Vietnam has been the subject of countless books: this is one of the best. Exhaustively researched and expertly written, it allows us a glimpse of the intense bonds of comradeship forged by soldiers in the white heat of combat."
—Saul David, BBC History Magazine (January 2013)

"...a powerful Vietnam testimony that's a 'must' for any military collection!"
- James A. Cox, The Midwest Book Review

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