Dead on the Floor

Janis Joplin seated 1970

Dead on the Floor

“Tricky Dick” was the U.S. President
In America, a first-class stamp cost just six cents
Richard Nixon froze both the prices and our pay
We still loved going to concerts to see our favorite bands play
The Vietnam War was on the evening news for all to see
Marcus Welby, M.D. was the number one show on United States TV
Over in London, Jimi Hendrix overdosed
On Monika Dannemann’s sleeping pills two weeks before.
And in Los Angeles, John Cook found Janis Joplin dead on the floor.

Jimmie Aaron Kepler
© 2011

Originally published in “Writing After Fifty.”

Photo Source: By Albert B. Grossman Management (personal manager), New York. (eBay item photo front photo back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A Life in a Year: The American Infantryman in Vietnam, 1965-1972 by James R. Ebert

Wisconsin high school teacher James R. Ebert does a masterful job as he combines interviews and printed primary sources in this remarkable telling of the infantryman’s experience during the Vietnam War. Ebert tells the story of the US Army and a few US Marine infantrymen during the Vietnam War. He takes their story from induction into the service through basic and advanced individual training, arrival in Vietnam, their first combat experiences, the first killed in action they experience, in some cases the soldier’s death, and the freedom birds that take them back to the world. Ebert points out while infantryman accounted for less than 10% of the American troops in Vietnam, the infantry suffered more than 80% of the losses.

Ebert uses an interesting technique starting every chapter with a letter by Leonard Dutcher to his parents. Dutcher just wanted to do his part for God and country and go home at the end of his 12-month tour (13 for Marines). In the last chapter, we find out that Dutcher was killed. It caught me off guard and really added to the impact of the book. Ebert takes many of the soldiers and Marines experiences word for word from the individual himself through interviews or letters. It is a collective look at similarities of the many infantry soldiers and Marines in the war. It is a very personal account from many points of view.

This is an important book in Vietnam War literature. This is what the grunts really went through. I was left with somewhat of feeling of guilt from reading the book. Why? I graduated high school in 1971. Some of my high classmates went to Vietnam and fought. Everett Maxwell was killed in action. I went to college and was ultimately commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry, went through airborne school and served three years active duty. My becoming an officer deferred my entry on active duty from 1971 to 1975. This is the reason for my reflective thoughts. Read by Jimmie A. Kepler in August 2004.

The Battle of An Loc by James Wilbanks

Here is a review I wrote on the book “The Battle of An Loc” by James Wilbanks for the Military History Book Club. A must have book for anyone with an interest in Viet-Nam. This is a very good read. The Battle of An Loc was a major battle of the Vietnam War that lasted from April 13 to July 20, 1972. It culminated in a decisive victory for South Vietnam’s Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). The struggle for An Loc was one of the most important battles of the war. It saw the introduction of conventional warfare and tanks by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). The ARVN forces halted the NVA advance towards Saigon. It delayed the war’s end by three years.

The author, James Wilbanks, was present and wounded at An Loc. This is not only his account, but gives insights from the North Vietnamese and US Advisor’s after action reports plus other communist documents. The role of the unending US air support, the bravery of the US air crews, and the orchestration by the Forward Air Controllers to the battle’s victory for the ARVN and US Advisor’s is covered in warranted great detail. The inability of the NVA to have armor and infantry work together in more conventional warfare is clearly brought to light and documented. Wilbanks gives insights into Richard Nixon’s Vietnamization’s perceived success by the politicians and its ultimate failures. This is a must have read and must have addition to the library for anyone with interest in the war in Viet-Nam.

Read and reviewed by Jimmie Aaron Kepler.

On Their Own: Women Journalists and the American Experience in Vietnam by Joyce Hoffmann

For female reporters who wanted to cover the long, brutal war in Vietnam, the challenge began before they even left home, when – in the words of one former Saigon bureau chief – they had to “fight like hell to get the assignment.”

On Their Own: Women Journalists and the American Experience in Vietnam focuses on a few of the approximately 70 women who worked as journalists during the Vietnam War, spanning from its earliest days as a “not-so-secret war” in the late 1950s to the fall of Saigon nearly two decades later. Each traveled a different path to get the assignment, and each arrived at different conclusions about what they saw. Dickey Chapelle, a grizzled anti-Communist hawk, lived at the front lines with the Marines for more than four years; she would become the first American woman to be killed while covering a war. Gloria Emerson, on the other hand, the first woman to report from Vietnam in 1956, would later earn some of President Nixon’s angriest epithets on the White House tapes for her award-winning work about the war’s effect on South Vietnamese civilians. And for Laura Palmer, among the last reporters to leave Saigon in 1975, the faces below her departing helicopter were “sacred, because it was beyond words; you stand in the mystery, you stand with humility, and you stand with awe.”

Researched and written over the course of ten years, On Their Own is the story of a fundamental shift in journalism, the point at which the “boy’s club” of war reporting in World War II and Korea gave way to the modern press corps of Iraq and Afghanistan, and a more vivid perspective on the causes and casualties of war. At the outset, they had to fight for the assignment; after they got it, the women profiled in On Their Own produced work that led one critic to suggest, in 1986, that Vietnam had been the first war recorded better by women than by men.

Joyce Hoffmann has written for the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and several other publications over the course of her twenty-five year career. She is currently a professor of journalism at Old Dominion University and public editor of the Virginian-Pilot.

http://www.pritzkermilitarylibrary.org/events/2008-10-30-joyce-hoffmann.jsp

Poem: Dead on the Floor

Dead on the Floor

“Tricky Dick” was the U.S. President
In America, a first-class stamp cost just six cents
Richard Nixon froze both the prices and our pay
We still loved going to concerts to see our favorite bands play
The Vietnam War was on the evening news for all to see
Marcus Welby, M.D. was the number one show on United States TV
Over in London, Jimi Hendrix over dosed
On Monika Dannemann’s sleeping pills two weeks before.
And in Los Angeles, John Cook found Janis Joplin dead on the floor.

Jimmie A. Kepler
© 2011

Originally published in “Writing After Fifty”

Originally published in “Writing After Fifty”

A Life in a Year: The American Infantryman in Vietnam, 1965-1972 by James R. Ebert

Wisconsin high school teacher James R. Ebert does a masterful job as he combines interviews and printed primary sources in this remarkable telling of the infantryman’s experience during the Vietnam War. Ebert tells the story of the US Army and a few US Marine infantrymen during the Vietnam War. He takes their story from induction into the service through basic and advanced individual training, arrival in Vietnam, their first combat experiences, the first killed in action they experience, in some cases the soldier’s death, and the freedom birds that take them back to the world. Ebert points out while infantryman accounted for less than 10% of the American troops in Vietnam, the infantry suffered more than 80% of the losses.

Ebert uses an interesting technique starting every chapter with a letter by Leonard Dutcher to his parents. Dutcher just wanted to do his part for God and country and go home at the end of his 12-month tour (13 for Marines). In the last chapter, we find out that Dutcher was killed. It caught me off guard and really added to the impact of the book. Ebert takes many of the soldiers and Marines experiences word for word from the individual himself through interviews or letters. It is a collective look at similarities of the many infantry soldiers and Marines in the war. It is a very personal account from many points of view.

This is an important book in Vietnam War literature. This is what the grunts really went through. I was left with somewhat of feeling of guilt from reading the book. Why? I graduated high school in 1971. Some of my high classmates went to Vietnam and fought. Everett Maxwell was killed in action. I went to college and was ultimately commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry, went through airborne school and served three years active duty. My becoming an officer deferred my entry on active duty from 1971 to 1975. This is the reason for my reflective thoughts. Read by Jimmie A. Kepler in August 2004.