April 01, 2008
bomb cloud New Book: VietVet Memoir Gun-Totin Chaplain
Map locates the site of My Lai Massacre in south Vietnam; 1c x 3 1/8 inches; 46.5 mm x 79.4 mm

Larry Evans, author of Stand By!, is one interesting guy. Recently, he joined us at breakfast and regaled us with nine war stories immediately. We have a rule in our group that you are only authorized three; but, before we could stop him, he laid nine on us.

I just finished his memoir. Very interesting-(not like we say with a blind date- you have a great personality and interesting) This book is truly, interesting.

I love memoirs and always the issue in a very personal memoir as this one is:how do people deal with our lives and how their lives relates to people and events. In Stand By!, Evans merely recorded his life, but with a flair and aplomb that held the attention. Way to go!

Larry has lived about three lives in one, especially before he settled in. And, I always love to hear about "draft" stories. It is an experience that youngsters today don't know. All of us had to contemplate the military draft in our lives before we could do anything. Larry's is pretty humorous. He wasn't a "draft dodger" but he did not go easily into the night.

I learned lots about his family. He was pretty forthcoming with his assessment of who they were. With a memoir, one always has to consider: What will these folks say or think or feel about what I've said? Humorously, he shared yesterday that his wife was still a little miffed at him for sharing a few of his sexual exploits, post marriage.

In our little group, we always asked a question: Was it a Penguin experience? Remember, the story: A grandmother sent her granddaughter a book on penguins. The mother said, "Write your grandma and tell her thank you for the book on penguins." She wrote and said, "Grandma, thank you for my book on penguins. However, it told me more about penguins than I care to know."

Well, Stand By!, was not a penguin experience. He made one of the best statements about Vietnam that I've ever heard. Here is what Larry said about his time above the Nam.

"I flew 144 combat missions in Vietnam and I slept in clean sheets every night. My tour was very different from the guys on the ground. When the movies like Platoon and Born on the 4th of July first came out, I was often asked if they reflected the real war. I would always answer that it certainly was not the war I fought, but from what I knew of other's experiences, those movies were pretty accurate.

The Vietnam war to the man on the ground had a special horror. When slogging through the jungle, he truly didn't know if his next step would blow his legs off, emasculate him, or kill him. That is horror. Mine was a more traditional war. Yet, I got shot at on nearly every mission, and had I been shot down, the consequences could have been horrible. But, in my case, I was able to return from every mission, going to the "O" Club, have a few drinks, and talk about what a hot-shit pilot I was."

Checkout Standby at your local bookstore.

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