Chief Petty Officer James "Patches" Watson was there at the start. One of the first to come out of the famed Underwater Demolition Team 21, he was an initial member -- a "plank owner" -- of America's deadliest and most elite fighting force, the U.S. Navy SEALs.
Through three tours in the jungle hell of Vietnam, he walked the point -- staying alert to trip wires, booby traps and punji pits, guiding his squad of amphibious fighters on missions of rescue, reconnaissance and demolition -- confronting a war's unique terrors head-on, unprotected . . . and unafraid.
This is the story of a hero told from the heart and from the gut -- an authentic tour of duty with one of the most legendary commandoes of the Vietnam War.
Watson led a Navy SEAL unit through three harrowing Vietnam tours between 1967 and 1970, conducting raids, ambushes and prisoner-snatching missons. His memoir, written with freelancer Kevin Dockery, is packed with exciting behind-enemy-lines action sequences, and readers will find the pre-Vietnam material--dealing with the rigorous training the SEALs had to endure--engrossing as well. The narrative, however, is replete with seemingly exaggerated anecdotes glorifying the pluck of the enlisted man: ``We'll be all right, Admiral. Just keep the three Bs coming.'' ``And what might those be, son?'' ``Beer, bullets, and broads!'' And Watson occasionally succumbs to delusions of grandeur: a lowly Navy Chief, he convinces himself that the entire State Department ``wanted my head on a platter.'' Yet for all its macho hot air, this self-portrait of a sailor proud of his deadly accomplishments in the jungles and swamps of the Mekong Delta is highly entertaining. Photos.