The Good, the Bad and the Funny—Vet Takes a Look Back at Vietnam in His New Book ‘Orange Socks & Other Colorful Tales’

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Jim Lamb’s new book about Vietnam has more in common with “Forrest Gump” than with “Apocalypse Now.” The retired journalist says he had some of the best days of his life in Da Nang—and some of the worst. He details that and more in “Orange Socks & Other Colorful Tales” (

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

Jim Lamb served four years in the World’s Largest and Cleanest Nuclear Navy, including a stint in Da Nang. The retired journalist looks back at the good, the bad and the funny in his poignant new book “Orange Socks & Other Colorful Tales” (

MCA ( is helping Lamb get the word out about his memoir.

“The book is a compilation of stories I’ve told family and friends over the years,” 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 “Orange Socks” to get written—a long time for a short book.

“It was like re-creating a complex puzzle from memory,” the Navy veteran said. “Fragments here, a thought there—until I finally had a notebook full of scribbling. When I transcribed those notes, stories begin to emerge. That sorting process took about five years. Then the serious writing began.”

The book’s 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 at a Sunday evening chapel service in Da Nang.

Lamb is originally from Pennsylvania: Born in Johnstown, grew up in Windber, thrown out of college in Shippensburg, and drafted in Kennett Square. To avoid the draft, he joined the Navy: Boot camp in Great Lakes, training at Naval Air Station Memphis, processed for an undesirable discharge on suspicion of drug use in Corpus Christi. Charges were eventually dropped, and he was sent to San Francisco for advanced training and then on to his home base at Atsugi, Japan.

A self-described bookworm, the rigors of military life provided Lamb with numerous challenges—particularly inspections. He fell short in different ways at different times, having trouble mastering the skill.

Then, after three and a half years of trying and failing, Lamb discovered a proven method to meet the inspection challenge. The result: stunningly shined shoes, a brilliantly bright brass belt buckle, starched white hat, and perfectly trimmed hair. After that, he became indistinguishable from every other sailor on the base.

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

That impish act of individuality gave birth to perhaps the most humorous story in the book, and eventually inspired its title.

Non-vets may wonder how anyone could find something funny in the midst of an unpopular war, thousands of miles from home. Lamb explained it like this: “My friend Juli used to say, ‘You can laugh—or you can cry.’ In Vietnam, I did both.”

Following his time in the Navy, Lamb worked a variety of jobs—youth director, ditch digger, carpenter’s helper, kitchen cleaner, mason tender and mosquito killer—before going to what was then called Pasco-Hernando Community College. He later attended the University of South Florida. After graduating USF, he took a job with The Tampa Tribune, where he worked 11 years, primarily as a copy desk editor.

“Orange Socks & Other Colorful Tales” is available in Kindle, ePub and PDF versions. It can be purchased at Amazon for $4.99, in the iTunes Store for $4.99 or as a "DRM-Free Bundle" at A paperback version is expected in August, just in time for Christmas.

For more information, visit or call 1-813-920-0197

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 is a free-lance writer for MCA ( “Orange Socks” is his first book.

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