Suicide Charlie: A Vietnam War Story by Norman L. Russell

I found Suicide Charlie: A Vietnam War Story in the local library. I read the book during the first week of February 2006. Norman L. Russell tells his story with the draft, the US Army and the 25th Infantry Division. Russell was drafted in 1968. He went to Vietnam when he was 19 years old. There he served as a mortar man with the 25th Infantry Division’s so-called Suicide Charlie Company. He tells how he was hardened by the demands of war. He tells of the various experiences he had. The war made less sense to him the longer he was there. He found it hard to follow all the orders he was given. He tells of being told to shoot to kill the Vietnamese children to keep away from his unit’s trash dump. He disobeyed this order. He shares a tale of the boom boom girls (prostitutes). He lets us have a look at another kind of battle he faced upon return to the world — post combat depression and delayed stress. He makes mention that his father was a World War II vet that took his own life a few years after returning. He battles the demons related to this from time to time. Unlike some memoirs, there are moments of hubris on his part from time to time in the book. It is very entertaining and an easy read. Read and reviewed by Jimmie A. Kepler.