||September 16, 2007
A book about what it was really like to serve in Viet Nam from someone on the ground. Missions in the bush and on the roads. Hard times in a Hard Place.
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"A Hard Place" A story of combat operations in South Vietnam,Republic of, with the men of a small unit known as a Mobile Reaction or "Mike Force". They operated out of Chu Lai the sprawling base camp on the coast of South Vietnam, home to the 23rd Infantry Division and the 75th Rangers. Their missions were conducted in the northern provinces, dubbed by the military as 1st Combat Tactical Zone (1CTZ).From Rosemary's Point at Chu Lai, to Da Nang, to the Tuy Lon River and the White Mountains, across the Hai Van Pass to Phu Bai.
They were both recon and striker unit, sometimes just looking for intell, sometimes attacking and sometimes being attacked. Often deployed to reinforce a small camp or firebase. Sometimes workng as convoy security.Mostly it was HOT! Life for them was either base camp boring, or "boonie rat" intense in full "battle rattle".
Sometimes assigned missions to locate or capture specific targets. All of their missions were both classified and clandestine. Even their existence was denied. As much as possible their movements were hidden or camouflaged within larger unit operations and movements.
Their operations were usually conducted with niether back-up, nor support readily available. They were required to move and survive on their bush skills, to adapt, over come, improvise, or if that failed E&E (escape and evade) back to a pick-up or rendezvous point for extraction.
This story is about serving in Vietnam as professional soldiers in a "No Such Unit Exists" status. Part of
A Hard Place
(A Sergeant’s Tale)
South Vietnam, Republic of, Vung Tao Harbor, Mekong river delta, fall 1966. It surely wasn’t supposed to be this way. It’s O’ dark-thirty, and I’m standing on the deck of the USNS Troopship, the General Pinhead or whatever his goddamn name was. In full combat gear, watching the swabbies put cargo nets over the side, and if that wasn’t enough there are fucking landing craft coming along side! Landing craft!! Jesus! That is right out of my daddy’s war, or at the very least save that shit for the Marines. They like that shit. Amphibious and all that! I’m Army for Christ’s sake and Special Operations at that. I’ll make a HALO jump in the middle of the night and never think twice about it. But I don’t do no fucking landing craft, and if some asshole with bars hollers “fix bayonets” I’ll fix one all right, right up his ass. This ain’t Guadalcanal, you know!
Thinking back to that lovely morning, as I stood there, basking in the yellow glow of a few hundred artillery flares in the sky, back when I thought I was pretty tough, a young buck Sergeant, with just over two years in the Army. I’d already spent a full 13 month tour in Korea, and I had been under fire more than a few times, up near the end of Artillery Road. Not too far north from our little hooch complex inside the 2nd Inf. Div. compound at Munsan-Ni, a few clicks to the north, then west a few clicks into the playpen. It seems as though somebody had conveniently forgotten to tell JC (Joe chink) and his boys that the goddamn war in Korea was over. But that’s another whole story in itself. That wasn’t really “combat”. It was just some misunderstandings between us and the North Koreans over jurisdiction. A “Police Action” I believe they have been calling it. Well! This, ain’t no “Police Action” either.
Finally a clear view of the Vietnam War experience, October 8, 2008
By ellen "ellen in atlanta" (Atlanta, Georgia USA) - See all my reviews
Jacamo Peterson is one heck of a writer. He not only experienced the actions of this book, he wrote eloquently about his experiences.
When I was a young girl, there was a guy in my neighborhood who went to Vietnam. We moved away, but would come back to the neighborhood when we'd visit - the guy came back from Vietnam, but was so very different - he had long hair, beard, looked like he was shellshocked, only sat and stared. I didn't understand.
I do now.
I told Jacamo about this guy - I still think of him to this day.
I don't usually quote from the books I review - but will in this, because it's very poignant - "Rock, do you believe in this war?" "Jim, this isn't a war. this is an exercise in stupidity and no I don't believe in it. I believe in us. The American Soldier is capable of doing just about anything. If any of us get out of this alive and have half a mind left it will be because we are Americans."
Ordinary Americans doing extraordinary things in a war others decide to participate in.
No matter what the conflict - this book would be something a person who fought in the Iraq War could relate to - just as in the Vietnam War.
The language of A Hard Place is rough and tumble - real language not politically correct, not watered down. Peterson takes us into the conflict, and we feel the heat of the day, the bullets passing by, the pain when someone is hurt. It is a stunning book.
For those of you who are hesitant about reading a book about Vietnam, don't hesitate.
It is Everyman - in EveryWar.
And it will open your eyes.
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Reader Reviews for "A Hard Place (A Sergeants Tale) Revised (Kindle)"
|Reviewed by Kathey Peterson
|This book has given me great insite into the realities of what these soldiers went through. I can honestly say I have read this many times and still am amazed! He manages to capture the way they talked and acted then in a way that you can see in your mind the people as though they are still here. I would recommend it to anyone who has a friend or family member who participated in this war. It is written from someone who was on the ground fighting not from the men in charge. It is written in a way that you can feel, hear and even smell what it was like to be there! I hope someone turns it into a movie!!!!|
|Reviewed by dennis batchelder
|Raw, gritty and as real as it gets.
"A Hard Place" is a first person view of Sergeant Peterson's third tour in Vietnam, at the tail-end of the war. It tells how Peterson led his small special operations unit through over a year of hunting down North Vietnamese Colonel Tranh, a particularly sadistic-minded terrorist and killer.
The Sergeant is a hard-boiled, honorable, caring, tough-as-nails, lead-from-the-front badass. He takes his men on hair-raising patrols, sets up ambushes, comes under plenty of fire, works the army system, and even has some fun. And we get to experience it first-hand: hoping he makes it, cheering him on through the slogs through the jungle to find Tranh, smelling his ham and eggs C rations, tensing up when his convoy crests the hill, mourning the deaths of his men.
"A Hard Place" is intense, direct, and unvarnished. It's filled with Peterson's overwhelming interpretation of what honor, comradeship, and courage under fire is like. If you want to experience life in the Vietnam war, told from the viewpoint of an NCO on the ground, this is the book for you. You'll gain a whole new perspective on (and a new level of respect for) what it means to serve your country... I know I did.