This ranks as one of the best books available about the Vietnam War from an ordinary soldier's point of view. A must read book. Here, the author has captured the essence of that experience and unique time in our history.
©2012 Joel R. Watkins (P)2013 Joel R. Watkins
I listen to and have recently started to write reviews. I've found the reviews have helped me to select books.
Vietnam: No Regrets ranks high on the list of books I've listened to about Vietnam.
What I liked best about this story was the fact that J. Richard Watkins did not contest the war in Vietnam as an enlisted man and if asked to do it again he would. Watkins expressed himself in such a way that I understood his description of the country, the people, and the war without any problem. His telling of how he fought in the war was clear cut and honest. The way in which he described his actions during battles were forthright. However, he never once made the reader feel as if he should not be fighting in Vietnam. Yes, he did not like war, he did not like killing other humans, he felt deep sorrow when his friends were wounded or killed and he hated when another American was killed in action. Watkins was always up and ready to go perform his duties as a soldier on the front line. His company was involved with ambushes. Sometimes these confrontations became overwhelming. He carried the radio for communications. Watkins was secure in the knowledge that if his company needed air support or extra men they would come fast. He didn't like carrying the radio because the antenna stuck out of his pack and could be easily seen. He, being the communications guy, would be the first man shot at. That, he was not pleased about and wished that someone else would carry the radio. But he never once whined or asked that he not have the responsibility for the radio. He felt that was his job and he would perform his duty to the best of his ability. Watkins learned fast how to use that radio. He knew that his life and the lives of others depended on him. He didn't want to die, he wanted to go back home and often thought that maybe he wouldn't make it back. However, his mantra became, I will make it back to my family but especially to my mom. Watkins took roll upon roll of film of Vietnam. The countryside of Vietnam, he thought of as beautiful, the people, not so much. However, he hated the jungles. They slowed them down, he'd get himself scratched up and his clothing would be torn. The enemy knew the jungles well and Watkins felt quite vulnerable when had to go through them to get to their x destination. There was more than one once that another man of his company saved his butt from being killed. No, he didn't like every man that was in his company but that man was an American and he never would hesitate to save one of his own, never. He enjoyed every day when he had leave. His first stop would be the PX to purchase more film and things that his buddies back at camp had asked him to pick up. He even purchased small gifts for the men in command because he knew that he was going to take an extra day or two than he had been allotted. These small gifts would keep Watkins out of trouble sometimes and he depended on that.
No, Ellery Truesdell did not do a good job differentiating all the characters. However, the memoir was told in the first person and I had to adapt to the first person. There were not many other character voices used in the memoir. The narrator would at times over exaggerate his reading but for the most part he was okay
The moments in the book that particularly moved me were when he had any involvement with his mom. Their love for one another was unquestionable, it ran deep.
If you are interested in reading about the war in Vietnam, written with honesty and clarity, listen to this one. Watkins didn't understand why the US was in this war other than the fact that the Vietnam war was being fought for political prowess. He figured that the south Vietnamese needed protection from the north Vietnamese but the US could not possibly uphold this decision and win. However, if the country needed him to be where he was at that time, in Vietnam and fighting a war, he would be there because he was an American and would never want to evade a duty he felt necessary to perform. He knew and understood that others detested the war. Watkins saw men who were having problems with what would be later be called, PTSD. He made a vow to himself that he would not allow the war to destroy the rest of his life. He knew that he would never be able to forget what happened while he was in Vietnam but he consciously chose not to let it destroy him. He wrote this book many years after he served in Vietnam and so far, he has not suffered from PTSD. He has fortunately moved on with his life but the memories are never forgotten.
As a Viet Nam veteran, I found the author's disparaging remarks about soldiers who served in non-infantry roles offensive. We all had jobs to do over there. I spent six months running convoy security and four months as an infantryman. To me anyone who served there, whether they were in the rear with the gear or out pounding the bush deserves respect.
Further, this book needs some serious editing. Lots of repetitive statements. The narrator also was bad.
"Interesting perspective on the war in Vietnam."
The total lack of political judgement or macho nonsense displayed by the author. This really is an ordinary "grunts" experience of day to day survival in a hostile country.
The Author due to his honesty.
I liked the dry delivery but not the repetitive nature.
When they had to destroy a tunnel network full of VC but couldn't get the VC to give themselves up so had to blow it with them still in the tunnels.
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