What was it like to be serving in the military in 1966?
In A Soldier’s Journey, George Graves tells us what he recalls about his military service experience, including time spent in Vietnam. I applaud his diligence in seeing this difficult task through to completion because I personally know several Vietnam Vets who would never voluntarily mentally or physically revisit this period of their lives. Wives of Vets who have experienced combat situations repeatedly report the frequency of recurring nightmares and cold sweats from which their husbands, even decades later, awaken. I have always been told, “Don’t even ask them about their time in Vietnam. Don’t make them have to remember.” And I’ve always tried to respect that, even with our closest friends who served.
A Soldier’s Journey chronicles Graves’ recollections without painting a graphic canvas of much of the ugliness that was later reported or documented in movies, but gives the reader a good sense of how frightening it was to be there, only feet away from enemy movement, with orders not to engage unless absolutely necessary. He also briefly covers one of the most devastating aspects--accidental death of one of our own by friendly fire.
I, personally, appreciated that most of Graves’ chapter headings were accompanied by a variety of quotes from Scripture--words which no doubt sustained him during this tour of duty in Vietnam and beyond.
A quick read, I devoured this book in a short time on a Sunday afternoon, comfortably seated in my beach chair with a light, welcome breeze blowing through my hair. I believe that it provides a gentle overview of this particular individual’s service journey and thank him for sharing his piece of the puzzle in our American history. I was relieved that the book was not a dissertation focusing on the atrocities aspect that so often accompanies Vietnam stories. We are aware that horrible, inhumane incidents occur in war, but do I want to read about it and visualize it? Not really.
I completely understand his sentiments of wishing he could have obtained his dad’s World War II memories before it was too late, something that cannot be reversed or fixed because there is no rewind. I felt exactly the same way about my dad’s war experiences because he was at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed, and I never recorded his version of that event or his subsequent service on Guadalcanal and other locations--something I will forever regret.
Graves delivers a story that conveys the perpetual unease, what it is like to be facing potential death or dismemberment at any moment and the concealed emotional wounds from serving our country in a combat zone. God bless George Graves and all Vets for risking their lives to keep us free! We can’t thank you enough.
11 months - 26 days, Always anxiety, Sometimes life, Sometimes death, Sometimes invisible wounds. George Graves relives his journey with this masterfully chronicled account beginning with AIT, (advanced infantry training for jungle warfare) and ends with the departure from Cam Ranh, Vietnam. Your mind's eye will see what he saw as his everyday experiences come to life: the tunnel in AIT, close call in the "3 holer," 12 on recon waiting for 3000 to attack, the TET offensive, and many more. If you watched MASH, don't miss this book. (Includes over 70 pictures). Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/A-Soldiers-Journey-George-Graves/dp/0988619482
In the words of George Graves:
“Writing this journey was not for the telling, but for the hearing.”
About George Graves
Husband, Father, Soldier, Author
Thank you to George for visiting with us today!
Do you want to write about your life experiences? Visit http://www.maryannebenedetto.blogspot.com for memoir writing tips and http://www.awriterspresence.com for information about 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing! I'll be seeing you soon with another great book and talented author.