40 Years After the Fall of Saigon a New Book Unearths Nuggets of Humor Glittering in the Shadows of an Unpopular War

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Saigon fell 40 years ago and that milestone has put Vietnam back into the spotlight. Jim Lamb served in Da Nang, courtesy of the Navy. The Vietnam vet writes about the good, the bad and the funny things that happened to him in his new book, “Orange Socks & Other Colorful Tales” (http://www.jslstories.com).

Lamb explains it this way: “My friend Juli used to say, ‘You can laugh—or you can cry.’ In Vietnam, I did both.”

Forty years ago Saigon fell to the Viet Cong, and the final chapter of an unpopular war closed. For those who served, the memory conjures up a variety of ghostly images; Jim Lamb captured some of his and coaxed them into a new book titled, “Orange Socks & Other Colorful Tales” (http://www.jslstories.com).

MCA (http://myclassifiedads.net) is helping get the word out about Lamb’s sometimes funny, often poignant, Vietnam memoir.

Lamb notes that many in the media have made attempts to put the Fall of Saigon into its proper historical context. Among the best, he said, is an award-winning documentary called “Last Days in Vietnam,” directed by Rory Kennedy, daughter of Robert Kennedy. More about that film, including a video clip, can be seen at http://lastdaysinvietnam.com.

Over the years most vets made their peace with the Vietnam saga, including Lamb—though occasionally he’d share an anecdote or two with those close to him.

“The book is a compilation of stories I’ve told family and friends,” Lamb said. “Sam Harris, one of those friends, said I should write down these tiny tales, so I did.”

It took nearly 20 years for Lamb to finish “Oranges Socks”—a long incubation period for a relatively short book. Chapters include “Welcome to the War,” “The M16 Is Your Friend,” “Rocket Attack,” and “Stealing Psalm 40,” the testimony of how Lamb accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior in a Sunday evening chapel service in Da Nang.

Lamb is a Pennsylvania native: Born in Johnstown, graduated high school in Windber, thrown out of college in Shippensburg, drafted in Kennett Square. He joined the Navy in the fall of 1967: Boot-camped in Great Lakes, trained at Naval Air Station Memphis, processed for an undesirable discharge on drug charges in Corpus Christi. After charges against him were dropped, he was sent to San Francisco for advanced training and then to Atsugi, Japan, his squadron’s stepping-stone to Da Nang.

A self-described bookworm—he wrote poems, played guitar and acted in theatric productions in high school and college—Lamb had difficulty adjusting to the rigors of military life, particularly inspections. Then, after three and a half years of trying, Lamb finally learned how to conform to Navy life by amassing a collection of proven techniques. The result: stunningly shined shoes, a brilliantly bright brass belt buckle, starched white hat, perfectly trimmed hair. He became virtually indistinguishable from every other sailor.

“That gave me an idea,” Lamb said. “I decided to go into one of the biggest and most important inspections of the year in perfect naval attire except for one thing: I wore orange socks.”

And he got away with it.

The impish act gave birth to one of the most comical chapters in the book as well as providing an inspiration for its title. Non-vets may wonder how someone could find anything funny during such an unpopular war. Lamb explains it this way: “My friend Juli used to say, ‘You can laugh—or you can cry.’ In Vietnam, I did both.”

“Orange Socks & Other Colorful Tales” is available in a variety of convenient formats: Kindle ($4.99), iBooks ($4.99) and “Independent and DRM-free via Gumroad” ($10) at http://www.jslstories.com/orange-socks.

For more information, visit http://www.jslstories.com or call (813) 920-0197.

ABOUT: Jim Lamb is a 1977 graduate of the University of South Florida with a double major in Mass Communications and Political Science. He worked as a copy desk editor for The Tampa Tribune, The Sarasota Herald-Tribune and the Charlotte Sun-Herald. Now retired, Lamb free-lances for MCA (http://myclassifiedads.net).

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