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A primary source book, a compilation of Sp4 Stanley D. Ross's letters home from the front lines of Vietnam in 1969.Photographs and recollections of the men who served with Karen Ross Epp's brother.Contributing authors Bernard Edelman, Tim O'Brien, and Michael L. Lanning.
"On August 7, 1969, when I and half dozen other soldiers were cut off from other friendly forces and were nearly out of ammunition in a desperate fight with a much larger force of North Vietnamese regulars, I was not surprised to see Ross among the few who risked their lives to come to our assistance. Less than three months later Ross fell mortally wounded in still another battle. Karen (Epp's) work to document her brother's life and death is a unique effort that contributes to the full story of a long, controversial war that still has major impact on our country today. It is a tribute to not only Stan and Karen's family, but also to all veterans." Michael L. Lanning, Author of, The Only War We Had: A Platoon Leader's Journal Of Vietnam and Vietnam, 1969-1970 A Commanders's Journal.
June 28, 1969
"Dear Mom and Dad,
I suppose you're worried because I've not written, but believe me it's not my fault. We came out in this jungle ten days ago and haven't got to go back in yet. They say we'll be out here for ten more days. I don't know if I can stand ten more days out here. The only people we see are the ones that bring our supplies in by helicopter. Eight-five percent of this jungle a person's got to cut through. Me and this other guy are still point men. We take turns cutting through; it sure wears a guy down."
Bob Neymeyer Sullivan Brother's Iowa Veterans Musuem Curator
A book notice in the Des Moines Register attracted my attention to With Love Stan. As historian for Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum, I had been looking for an authentic, personal account of service in Vietnam. When I read the book, I knew I had found the “real thing.” Here was an unvarnished narrative of a young soldier in the field. In his letters, he captured the fear of the battlefield, the anguish of loss, the humor of the absurd, and the pride of service. Through all his experiences, he always made the connection with family and home. The family’s reflections on Stan help to further define him and the men who served with him. The letters and photos will form the core of our Vietnam exhibit. We consider it a great privilege to present his story in the museum so present and future generations can better understand the meaning of service and sacrifice.
Midwest Book Review
With Love Stan
Karen Ross Epp, compiler
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781425940379, $19.99 www.authorhouse.com 1-800-839-8640
With Love Stan: A Soldier's Letter from Vietnam to the World is an anthology of letters home written by Vietnam soldier Stanley D. Ross, who served honorably and was killed on October 20, 1969. Stan's sister Karen Ross Epp has gathered his letters along with vintage photographs to provide a memorial tribute not only to her brother, but to all who served bravely with him and have their own tale to tell. A vivid presentation of the rigors of basic training, and a realistic look at the conflict in Vietnam, With Love Stan is increasingly relevant in the modern day as young men and women are called upon by their country to risk and sometimes give up their lives in the Iraq conflict. Karen Rose Epp also interjects her own reflections amid the verbatim letters, in this timely and welcome addition to wartime correspondence reading shelves. "Until Desert Storm, I was always bitter about losing a brother like Stan. As I watched Desert Storm take place, I realized the reason we were taking so few casualties was these troops were led by Vietnam veterans. The country may not have learned, but we (the veterans) did." Highly recommended.
Jeff Lowenthal Photo Journal
Review date: 12/30/2007
"With Love Stan personalizes the story of this man and the effect of that war on his family."
Sgt. Stanley Ross was one of more than 58,000 men killed in the Vietnam War. With Love Stan personalizes the story of this man and the effect of that war on his family.
Karen Ross Epp, his sister, has compiled many of his letters home. In total, they show us a self-described "Iowa farm boy," from his first days in basic training, progressing from a "new guy" to a hardened, decorated soldier. Included are tributes and reminiscences from his comrades, as well as explanatory text to tell us what was going on in his family at the time. Epp has been candid enough to describe even the stresses due to her marriage to a conscientious objector ( who served his obligation in a non-combat role), while conversely Stan was sent to Vietnam.
Included are some letters speaking of the unwinding done on "stand downs," but these only add to the picture of a 19-year-old, lonely and far from home. As well, they show us that Epp has chosen to show us other sides of Stan, without any effort to expurgate these intimate communications with family and friends.
Through it all, underneath he remains the Iowa farm boy; asking for an Instamatic camera, and his favorite chocolate chip cookies, sending his mother a custom-made bible, and tiny jacket for his younger brother Phill, all the while assuring them he was "ok" even when he wasn't.
What comes across is the banality of much of the life in Vietnam; periods with nothing to do, bad food, limited equipment and terribly harsh living conditions interspersed with dangerous confrontations with a wily and often underestimated enemy. Over time, you feel his anger.
"When I think of you back in the world (the states), everyone friendly, no one trying to kill you, or the constant worry of getting it next, it's almost hard to believe that there is such a wonderful land. The funny part of it is that 80% of the people over here don't even pack a weapon or even see action."
Chafing under the unfairness of the situation, with Infantryman staying on the front lines for weeks with no break, he wrote: "I heard there were over 350 men killed here last week. It makes me so damn mad, words can't express it. I wished to hell every one of those high-filluting (sic) government men would come over to this hell-hole one day."
And "Like I say, it's hard to explain the was it is. Just thank God you're in the wonderful U.S."
He was only on man, but his letters speak to the feelings and experiences of many.
Unfortunatley there is no happy ending to this story. Stan never got to ride the Harley his father bought for him, or see his little brother again. Stanley Ross died October 20, 1969. But he left behind a story we should all read, all the more relevant in light of our current "adventure" in Iraq, because those who ignore history are bound to repeat it.
Reviews for "With Love Stan: A Soldiers Letters From Vietnam To The World"
|Reviewed by Karen Epp
|Epp, Karen Ross. (District 5, Newton)
With Love Stan; a Soldier's Letters from Vietnam to the World. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2007, 329 pp., illustrated, paperbound, $19.95.
Thirty-three years after nineteen-year-old SGT Stanley Dennis Ross fell in Vietnam on 20 October 1969, his sister Karen gathered his letters home. She edited Stan's sometimes shaky handwriting, and found surviving members of his 199th Light Infantry Brigade to confirm and reinforce Stan's bravery under enemy fire. This compelling memoir of her brother, his buddies, and his family back in the world, brings home the absolute horrors of war as if they happened only yesterday. Primary-source documents and candid photographs made it possible for Karen to write an inspired tribute to her brother and those who served with him. With unexpected twists like a bayonet thrust—jam-packed with trenchant wit, strong characters and simple, crisp, declaratory prose, this bittersweet biography ratchets up tension-inducing actions of true heroism ... in one of America's most difficult and frustrating wars. (Reviewed by Don Pady, January 2009)
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