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Page 48
Download PDF of this full issue: v48n1.pdf (140.6 MB)

<< 47. Establishment Account of the Vietnam War49. Vietnam: A History of the War >>

Long Daze at Long Binh

By John Zutz (reviewer)

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Long Daze at Long Binh
by Steve Donovan and Fred Borchardt

(DCI Communications, 2017)

I was originally attracted to this book because the two authors are from Wisconsin, and it is billed as being funny. Now, we all had funny experiences, but I figured a funny book about our war in Vietnam would take some writing skill, and I was right.

The format is a bit unusual. It's as if they are having a conversation at the bar of the VFW. They take turns talking, and take turns being the straight guy.

The first hundred pages describe boot camp, advanced medic training, and riding a ship to Vietnam. They do a fair job of skewering our leaders in Vietnam. They are surprised to be in a war zone with their weapons kept under lock and key. When one of their cohorts writes his Congressman, who questions the practice, they are issued weapons, but the ammo is still locked in a bunker.

They mock their orders on guard duty, no shooting unless fired upon, and then to only shoot to wound. They list a series of mishaps and snafus that sound familiar, and similar to experiences I've had.

We all experienced humorous episodes in our military journey (at least they seem funny now, when looking back), and Donovan and Borchardt seem to be about average in that account. They realize they were lucky to be hospital corpsmen rather than infantry medics. They document the REMF experience.

The narrative illustrates how the two men, through different motives and intentions, can see two different wars even though they were side by side through their service.

Vietnam vets probably won't find much new or illuminating here. I think the authors realize their narrative might not be as funny to people who weren't in uniform either, so they end each chapter with a joke. Too bad most of them are of the "yuck yuck" variety.

John Zutz is a Milwaukee VVAW member.

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