By Marc Cullison
I just completed editing my second novel, “THE OTHER VIETNAM WAR.” It took forty years for me to find the courage to write it. A number of books have been written about Vietnam, and all of them offer explicit views into the life of a soldier in Vietnam. Many of them are accurate, some are enhanced for reader pleasure, and others are just plain fiction. But nearly all of them tell you only about the fighting. Few of them address the real war each of us fought over there, the private wars with our consciences and egos. The war that followed us home, if we were lucky enough to return there alive. The other Vietnam war. After all, there was so much more to the Vietnam War than the fighting.
This book is not about heroics or blood and guts battles or gruesome images. It is about how the Vietnam War affected me, changed me, perhaps damaged me, and made me who and what I am. It is about the day to day dilemmas faced by a helicopter pilot, the challenges presented to a commissioned officer, and the struggles of a naive and gullible twenty-four-year-old soldier who had never experience battle before arriving in Vietnam. It is about the battles that raged in this young soldier’s mind while he tried to make sense of the hostile and disagreeable environment into which he had been thrust. It allows the reader to experience what that soldier saw, heard, smelled, tasted, and felt. It reveals the profanity and vulgarity of the Vietnam War and anyone who served in it. It is a work of fiction, but the stories and characters are real. Just the names are different.
I blew through my entire life while writing this book, or as much of it as I could remember. So many things I had stuffed in the back of my mind, especially my time in Vietnam. I found that when I dredged up old memories that I didn’t want to remember, I had to actually start dealing with life. The life I should have been dealing with all along. The writing proved to be an effective antiseptic for these old wounds that had been neglected for so long. It all starts to make sense, now. I’m past all of that rubbish.
I look forward to the publishing of this book in hopes that folks will begin to understand what war means to the soldiers who are part of it. And I hope it reawakens the resolve of people to trust their consciences to do what is right and have compassion for those who are not as fortunate. Force is seldom the answer. Understanding is.
If you happen to acquire a copy of my second novel, I sincerely hope you enjoy it, but more to the point, I hope it makes you think. There’s far too little of that going around nowadays.
The photo below is the Officer’s Street of the 129th AHC at Lane Army Heliport in II Corps, Vietnam. I lived here for 11 months in the scorching heat, the stench of mildew, and the local wildlife: rats and cockroaches.