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Survivor Love Thy Enemy by James Dennison

 

One man’s powerful insight into the realities of the Vietnam War.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a youngster the author was raised a catholic, his father owned an Irish bar in the north side of Chicago, he was shy and had a devoted girlfriend. Those years were a time of wonderful innocence, luckily, he had no idea what the future would hold for him, physically, emotionally and religiously.

On the 17th of May 1966, aged 20, he was like many others called up for the drafted, and enrolled in the Fort Kansas Ninth Infantry Division. After 32 weeks basic training, which could in no way have prepared these young men for life in the swamps and jungles, the recruits were called ‘C’ (Charlie) Company and sent to Vietnam, to become part of the Mobile Riverine Force based in the Mekong Delta and operating from US Navy gunboats.

As soon as I started to read this book I was immediately struck by the author’s clear recollections of his comrade’s backgrounds and future dreams, his attention to detail in this respect brings the book wonderfully alive as we get to know the men behind the camouflage gear. As expected in a war book there are many graphic and horrifying images which the writer has been brutally honest in his descriptions of, not only the fighting, but also in methods of torture and some of the truly horrendous ways it was implemented by both sides. We discover also, how hard it was for these young Americans to acclimatise to living in the jungle, the rations, dysentery, insects, depression, and of course the deaths and terrible injuries caused by claymore mines, guns and fighting. However, in his representation of the horrors of war, the author hasn’t forgotten to give the reader glimpses into how life was like for the non-fighting Vietnamese people and how, unsure of what the future would hold, they openly hedged their bets with both sides.

Another very important character in this story who we are introduced to very early on is Van, a prominent member of the Viet Cong movement, a young man with an all-consuming hatred of the Americans burning within him. However, we are to wonder if this is going to change when he falls in love with the beautiful Tuyen. Their love is so fierce that when Van leaves Th oi Son Island for Cambodia, to recruit and train new soldiers in war craft, interrogation and torture, she trains to become a spy, using her womanly whiles to infiltrate the lonely American men of the intelligence services.

As we follow the author through this nightmarish war we discover that even in the most hellish situations love can be found, and indeed true love knows no boundaries. However, always where there is love there is also a myriad of other emotions, including its direct opposite hate, and perhaps the most dangerous of all jealousy.

This book is not only an extremely interesting look at the Vietnam War, the politics, and people, it is also an incredible testament to how the author’s whole life has been shaped by his experiences in Vietnam.

I have read many times that a person comes out of a war a totally different person, and having reading this absorbing, heart rending, vividly honest account by the author it is easy to understand why, when you span the years from that young man drafted in 1966 to the man portrayed on the last page of this amazing story. I just could not put this book down, and highly recommend it.

 

About the Author:

James Dennison grew up in Chicago, going to Catholic schools and living a life of too much drinking until he fell in love with the Italian “girl next door.” That all changed when he was drafted into the Vietnam War at the age of 20. Facing conflict on all sides and losing his friends on the battlefield in the jungle and his loved ones to alcoholism here at home, he still struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. After the death of his only son in 2010, he wrote “Survivor Love Thy Enemy” hoping that to share his story would be to heal his demons. Having realized that talking to other vets is more therapeutic than talking to therapists, Dennison hopes that his book will reach others out there who have also lost much. He also gives light to both sides of the conflict, something that most generations, including this one, have trouble seeing. Dennison is retired from construction equipment sales and lives in Hawaii.

 

About the Book:

From an inspired Catholic family base, this youth’s naiveté and immature nature was hell bent on living the wild life of booze and party times when a special female, who he wanted more than his innocents could bear, changed his outlook forever. Then reality came to visit his dreams, turning them into nightmares of war. The Vietnam conflict would eat him up, grow him up and create a new perspective of life that only the enemy could teach. The language is harsh, the writing brutally honest and the message clear, it relates with great candor the unvarnished realities of dealing with day to day combat in and around the Mekong Delta during the TET Offensive. You will be shocked, fascinated, outraged and frustrated when you read about the US fight for Democracy and Peace in Vietnam and the enemy’s pragmatic dedication to the annihilation of the South Vietnamese and all Western ideals. This story is about an Army warrior who made the journey to combat and the unbelievable events that made up his combat tours….peppered by Vietnamese insight, perspective and romantic ardor. This is my story and it is historically accurate. Survivor, Love thy Enemy is a definite “must read” for military and civilians alike, once picked up, not put down until the last page read.

 

Survivor Love Thy Enemy is available from:

Amazon in Paperback https://www.amazon.com/Survivor-Love-Enemy-James-Dennison/dp/1477478159/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1506500020&sr=8-1

and Kindle format https://www.amazon.com/Survivor-Love-Enemy-James-Dennison-ebook/dp/B00BKGZS9G/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1506500020&sr=8-1&dpID=51CuNWAGaVL&preST=_SY445_QL70_&dpSrc=detail

and

Barnes and Noble in Paperback https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/survivor-love-thy-enemy-james-dennison/1112199621?ean=9781477478158

 

 

Okay, Okay by Fred Krebsbach

 

In November 1968, Fred Krebsbach had just turned twenty-one, he had finished his education with a tech degree in engineering, and was looking forward to a bright future. However the US military had other plans, the war in Vietnam needed soldiers and he was called up for draft.

Before leaving for basic training, his uncle Gene, a WWII veteran advised him to take something which would give him comfort, with him, and he chose his First Communion rosary, something which would sustain him through the months of conflict.

After he had completed his training, he left his homeland for the Tan Son Nhut Republic of South Vietnam. Thus began his tour of duty in that hell hole, where for nearly seven long months he served as an M-60 machine gunner.

The author freely admits that he was changed in irrevocable ways, and reading his story, how can he not have been. Fighting the Viet Cong, and the North Vietnamese Army under terrible conditions, losing many of his ammo bearers to booby traps, and for me, one of the saddest things was that they never said hello, because then they would never have to say goodbye…

The detailed descriptions of army life in Vietnam, and how he survived it, is absorbing reading. I was amazed to discover that captured, and rehabilitated Viet Cong, were used by the army as Tiger Scouts, and sent out in front of the soldiers to find the booby traps, punji pits, daisy chains and explosives set by their ex-comrades.

The author says that hearing WWII veterans say that they wish they had talked to their family more, has been an important factor in his decision to writing this book. I can understand this as my own Granddad was a WWII veteran who was lost, presumed dead. In fact my Grandmother was told he was dead by the British War Office. Then he turned up in Australia a couple of years after the war had ended. Apparently, he had been taken there, having been released, he had been tortured, and it was that long before they could discover his identity. I remember, he never, ever, talked about his experiences.

It must have taken a lot of courage for the author to put these words down on paper, to search is memories, trace people, and diagnose the effect on his life of those months.

Yes he came back alive, and despite sustaining injury, in one piece. However the man who returned was totally different from the ‘boy’ who left his home to fight for his country.

He married Marcia, has had children, and grandchildren, he was one of the lucky ones, thousands did not. Because of this, he wanted to put pen to paper to explain in real terms the true cost of war, both mentally and physically.

Thank you Fred.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

About the Book: Before leaving for Vietnam, twenty-one year old Fred Krebsbach received a piece of advice from his uncle: carry something with you into combat that will give you comfort in a time of need. He figured it was worth a shot and chose his First Communion rosary. This turned out to be a life-changing, maybe even life-saving, decision. Sent into combat as an M-60 machine gunner, for almost seven months Fred faced danger from booby traps, enemy combatants, and the jungle itself. After becoming injured and returning from the hospital he gave up the M-60 to become a squad leader for Special Forces. He endured seven more months of constant change and surprise, but one companion was constant―a voice inside his head that helped him find the right course of action to keep him alive. To this day Fred doesn’t know what it was exactly, but it may have had something to do with that dang rosary! Though he survived Vietnam, Fred was changed in irrevocable ways. He hopes his story helps his grandchildren and other young people understand the cost of combat and the value of thinking it through before engaging in war.

Available from Amazon in Paperback https://www.amazon.com/Okay-Fred-Krebsbach/dp/0989671011/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1484740731&sr=1-1

and Barnes and Noble in Paperback http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/okay-okay-fred-krebsbach/1117164622?ean=9780989671019