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They all came through Japan: the 9th Division fighting in the Delta - the Riverines - the 1st Air Cav, the 101st, the 4th and the 25th, the 1st and the 173rd, the chopper pilots and the RTOs, the forward observers, the cooks, the medics and the sergeants, the colonels and the contractors, the Special Forces troopers and the Rangers, the heroes and the ones under military arrest, the drug addicts and the killers.

 

Ronald J. Glasser was a pediatrician assigned to the Army station hospital in Camp Zama, Japan, during the Vietnam War. Times being what they were, he found himself working on a lot of the wounded who had been medevac'd from the war zone, and eventually writing about the experience. 365 Days isn't Glasser's story; it isn't even a coherent narrative. What it is, is a collection of vignettes about Americans in Vietnam, pretty much as Glasser says in the foreword that I quoted at the beginning of this. Some of them are gripping. Some are sad. Some are extremely creepy ("Gentlemen, It Works" in particular) while others are grimly amusing ("No Fucken Cornflakes") - and some will leave scars. You'll know them when you find them.

There have been a lot of books written about Vietnam, and I probably read far too many of them when I was in high school. I'm pretty sure it affected how I viewed the Army, and not for the better; all the more so since the Army of the 1980s in Europe was not what it had been during Vietnam. So much the worse for me. This book, though, I couldn't stay away from. I must have checked out every copy from the county library and the local base libraries at least half a dozen times, reading and re-reading it from cover to cover. I've long since worn out my first copy, and the second one's spine is starting to go. I don't know if I can really call it one of my favorite books, but it's a part of who I am, and it would bother me not to have a copy on hand.

Even as (the lighter) sparked into flame, Brock swung around and knocked it out of his hand. Sputtering, it hit the ground and went out. There was an embarrassed silence.
"It's all right, Lieutenant," the Captain said, bending to pick it up. "There's no one out there any more."

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