"ONE OF THE BEST VIETNAM WAR STORIES I'VE EVER READ, one damn good, compelling read. It's almost something out of a Clancy novel, yet it's true. The best thing I can say about it is I didn't want it to end."
--Col. David Hackworth, New York Times bestselling author of About Face
By the spring of 1970, American troops were ordered to pull out of Vietnam. The Marines of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel "Wild Bill" Drumright, were assigned to cover the withdrawal of 1st Marine Division. The Marines of 1st RECON Bn operated in teams of six or seven men. Heavily armed, the teams fought a multitude of bitter engagements with a numerically superior and increasingly aggressive enemy.
Michael C. Hodgins served in Company C, 1st RECON Bn (Rein), as a platoon leader. In powerful, graphic prose, he chronicles his experience as a patrol leader in myriad combat situations--from hasty ambush to emergency extraction to prisoner snatch to combined-arms ambush. . . .
"THIS MEMOIR IS GRIPPING."
Formerly an enlisted "grunt," Hodgins became a Marine Corps commissioned officer in 1969. He was then charged with leading an infantry platoon as part of a mission to help cover the withdrawal of the 1st Marine Division from I Corps in the northern portion of South Vietnam. Even for trained warriors, it was a treacherous job, albeit one that, as Hodgins suggests, provided ample opportunity for a young man to learn much about himself. In a promising prologue filled with clearheaded and impassioned prose, Hodgins proclaims his pride in having served in Vietnam and offers a summation of the narrative to come. His is not a war story, he writes: "It is not even about Vietnam, although the events recounted occurred there." What follows, though, is at odds with this introduction, in both style and content. For this memoir is very much a war story, replete with detailed recountings of Marine life and missions as experienced by a warrior who, despite the title, shows no sign of having been "reluctant." The combat episodes are related with suspense and, at times, startling honesty. In one instance, a gung-ho Hodgins is in charge of a patrol that has captured some Vietnamese prisoners. As the rest of the team departs, he is left alone with a wounded captive. "He smiled up at me, the cigarette dangling from his lip," Hodgins writes. "I smiled back, and pulled the trigger." Moments later, the young lieutenant coolly rolls the corpse atop a grenade and pulls the safety pin. This and Hodgins's other close-up war stories will appeal to action-adventure buffs, but those looking for a larger perspective will have to look elsewhere. Photos.
Missed a great Story
Far too self-congratulatory
Not much action, but that’s also a good thing because these are real people, real lives, so glad all the main characters survived, mostly unscathed. However, I wonder why Hodgens bothered to write about a relatively boring 2nd tour in Vietnam. The procedural stuff was interesting, but I did get by the (recreated) dialogue that he was the star of this drama, although at other times he seems very humble. But all good brave Marines fighting the end of a very unpopular war! Anyone who has been in combat has my profound respect!
Best ‘tour of duty’ book by a Marine platoon leader
Lots of official jarhead jargon was lost on this civilian, but that’s mainly due to a general ignorance of military speak. This is a unique account. The personality of a good, young Marine leader shines throughout, mainly because he obviously cares so much about doing what he was trained to do. He led with courage, intelligence, and a fair amount of compassion for both subordinates and peers. Nicely done, Mike Hodgins.