here is what to expect from my book out soon from Solstice Publishing
The Marine Corps immortalized by Hollywood hardly resembles the dysfunctional organization I joined in 1967, just as the Vietnam War was heating up. Incompetence, arrogance, sadism—all were rampant from the top down in an indifferent hierarchy that rewarded obedience over competence and sycophancy over truth-telling.
I joined the corps because I had few choices available to me. As the youngest of eleven children, all of us living in poverty in rural Illinois, and as someone who had lived his whole life intimate with deprivation and hardship, I had few paths available to me.
I was surrounded by characters—outsized individuals with larger-than-life personalities, colorful ticks, and perplexing complexes.
There was the lance corporal from Pittsburg who liked to call himself Pitt. Rail thin, with a neck like a turkey’s to support his oversized head, he owned a crooked set of teeth that had yellowed from tobacco smoke. He had a quirky habit of sprinkling his cigarette ashes into whatever he was drinking at the time and then chugging it down, all in order to attain a more perfect high. Pitt, as I learned during my first night in Vietnam, was all about getting high, even while manning a checkpoint as an MP.
And there was W.B. Greene, a tall, muscular Marine with Sidney Poitier good looks, Cary Grant charm, and a voice that would make James Earl Jones proud. W.B. had a quick wit and skin just the far side of milk chocolate. He boasted a chiseled chin and dark, expressive eyes that could see into your soul and make many a fair maiden weep.
During much of my four-year tour, one tether remained between me and Pontiac, Illinois: Sandy. She stood tall, almost able to look me in the eyes, and had a build any Marine would die for. With auburn hair and green eyes that sparkled like diamonds when she spoke, Sandy had a come-hither smile and a quick wit that I found adorable—in a masochistic way. We’d met my junior year in high school and had been dating ever since, albeit in an on-again, off-again way. We broke up and reunited numerous times before she finally sent me a Dear John letter.
. From Camp Pendleton in California to Cherry Point in North Carolina, from the Naval Air Station just outside of Memphis, Tennessee, to Chu Lai in Vietnam, the Marine way was the same: hurry up and wait. It wasn’t important to be busy; we merely had to look busy.