Andrew Wiest sheds light and understanding on the human and psychological dimension of war and the aftermath of war. It is a story of courage, comradeship, tribulation, suffering, and perseverance.”
— Brigadier General H. R. McMaster
New Orleans, LA (PRWEB) September 05, 2012
On September 7-8, 2012, sixty-five Vietnam War veterans of Charlie Company, 4th Battalion, 47th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division, will be meeting at the Embassy Suites on Julia Street in New Orleans. The event marks the 45th anniversary year of their year of service in Vietnam.
The reunion is being marked by the publication of a new book called The Boys of ’67: Charlie Company’s War in Vietnam, which was written by award-winning historian Andrew Wiest. The book follows the men of Charlie Company from the time of their conscription into the Army to their year in the Mekong Delta as part of the Mobile Riverine Force. A closing chapter provides brief biographies of their post-war lives, many of which were marred by physical disabilities and PTSD.
Wiest interviewed more than 50 officers and enlisted men who served with Charlie Company, including the surviving platoon leaders and both of the company’s commanders. (One of the platoon leaders, Lt Jack Benedick, lost both of his legs, but went on to become a champion skier.) In addition, he interviewed 15 family members of Charlie Company veterans, including wives, children, parents, and siblings. Wiest also had access to personal papers, collections of letters, a diary, an abundance of newspaper clippings, training notebooks, field manuals, condolence letters, and photographs from before, during, and after the conflict.
When the 160 men of Charlie Company were drafted by the US Army in May 1966, they were part of the wave of conscription that would swell the American military to 80,000 combat troops in theater by the height of the war in 1968. In the spring of 1966, the war was still popular and the draftees of Charlie Company saw their service as a rite of passage. But by December 1967, when the company rotated home, only 30 men were not casualties—and they were among the first vets of the war to be spit on and harassed by war protestors as they arrived back the U.S.
As Wiest shows, the fighting that Charlie Company saw in 1967 was nearly as bloody as many of the better publicized battles, including the infamous ‘Ia Drang’ and ‘Hamburger Hill.’ As a result, many of the surviving members of Charlie Company came home with what the military now recognizes as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder—a diagnosis that was not recognized until the late 1970s and was not widely treated until the 1980s. Only recently, after more than 40 years, have many members of Charlie Company achieved any real and sustained relief from their suffering.
2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War. On November 11, 2012, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund will mark the 30th anniversary of the dedication of the Vietnam Wall in Washington with a reading of the names of those who gave their lives during the War.
Andrew Wiest, Ph.D, is Professor of History at the University of Southern Mississippi. He is the author of 14 books including Vietnam’s Forgotten Army: Heroism and Betrayal in the ARVN, which won the Society for Military History’s Distinguished Book Award. Wiest has appeared in and consulted on several historical documentaries for the History Channel, PBS, the BBC, and for Lucasfilm. Since 1997, Wiest has traveled to Vietnam several times in the company of Vietnam veterans and students taking his semester-long course on the war. The trips have been under the supervision of the Gulfport/Biloxi Veterans Administration, which has supported Wiest’s efforts to integrate veterans who suffer from PTSD into the college classroom. Wiest lives in Hattiesburg with his wife Jill and their three children. For more information, visit http://www.theboysof67.com.
Osprey Publishing is the world’s largest publisher of illustrated military history reference. Based in Oxford, England, and New York, it has over 1,100 titles in print in 15 series, including “Aces of the Aircraft,” “Warrior,” “Campaign,” and its flagship uniformology series, “Men-at-Arms,” which this year will publish its 465th volume. Visit us online at http://www.ospreypublishing.com.
The Boys of ‘67: ISBN: 978-1-78096-202-3 / $25.95 / Hardcover / 376 pp / On-sale: September 18, 2012