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Reluctant Warrior

A Marine's True Story of Duty and Heroism in Vietnam
Narrated by: John McLain
Length: 12 hrs and 42 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (38 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

By the spring of 1970, American troops were ordered to pull out of Vietnam. The Marines of First Reconnaissance Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel "Wild Bill" Drumright, were assigned to cover the withdrawal of First Marine Division. The Marines of First RECON Bn operated in teams of six or seven men. Heavily armed, the teams fought a multitude of bitter engagements with a numerically superior and increasingly aggressive enemy.

Michael C. Hodgins served in Company C, First RECON Bn (Rein), as a platoon leader. In powerful, graphic prose, he chronicles his experience as a patrol leader in myriad combat situations-from hasty ambush to emergency extraction to prisoner snatch to combined-arms ambush....

©1996 Michael C. Hodgins (P)2018 Tantor

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Gem hidden in plain sight

This book holds an important key for understanding Marine Force Recon in the Vietnam War. It was copyrighted in 1996, sold online in 1997, and released in audio in 2018. I spent a lot of time relistening to certain chapters, amazed at how much there was to glean from the material.

Lieutenant Hodgins played a critical role in covering the pullback of American forces, and he saved a lot of American lives through his leadership. This is an authoritative account of military actions and organization in highly contested areas including behind enemy lines. What provides the hook that keeps the listener on edge is that Lt. Hodgins was a real serious commander by the time he took charge of a fort on Hill 425. He was the highest authority in most respects at the fort. His diverse combat experience shaped him to become a tactical wizard in that particular battle space. It helped that he operated with the full support of Lieutenant Colonel "Wild Bill" Drumright.

Hodgins was a mustang, as he had served for years as an enlisted Marine. He wasn't fond of chickens--t and harassment of the grunts, because he lived through it and wanted something better. He led the normal patrols that ran into booby traps and ambushes. He got mortared. He later was part of 6 or 7 man recon teams that were inserted into enemy territory and extracted up to six days later. He liked being on the more active side versus being in what he described as the reactive side, and I think he was completely forthcoming on the differences.

I thought the book was plenty suspenseful and harrowing when Hodgins went on recon patrols behind enemy lines. But later when he took charge of the fort on Hill 425, there was real drama with many others who were in numerous roles. He performed intelligence operations and achieved superior understanding of what the enemy was doing within his area of operation. Through force of that intangible asset called leadership, he got the cooperation of others and directed their energies to thwarting the enemy's plans. He managed this despite the fact that everybody on Hill 425 knew the U.S. was pulling out of Vietnam.

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One of my favorites

This story is not flashy. It's not overly heroic or gripping even. What it is, or what it feels like I should say, is very honest and real. This is definitely one of my favorite accounts of the war.