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Page 31
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Peacemaking Under Fire: A Vietnam War Memoir

By Aaron Davis (reviewer)

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Peacemaking Under Fire: A Vietnam War Memoir
John Arnold

(CreateSpace, 2011)

I felt compelled to volunteer to read and review John's book. My read brought out in me many memories of the USMC and many conflicting emotions. John and I have communicated via e-mail over the course of the past few months. You see for me, "He ain't heavy, he's my brother." John is now fighting stage 4 prostate cancer attributed to Agent Orange, and is in hospice care.

Although my attitudes and beliefs about war have been formed by listening for many years to combat veterans who have "been there and done that," my own research in reading history has brought me to the conclusion stated by General Smedley Butler that "War is a Racket" and General William T. Sherman that "War is hell."

John Arnold joined the Marine Corps in 1968 after seeing the movie Dr. Zhivago. He was anti-war before he joined so he thought "you can't stop a war if you are not where the war is." The Marine Corps guaranteed he would go to Vietnam. "...being a Marine would position me to both fulfill my duties as a citizen..." John held a communications MOS and served in Vietnam from 1969-1970 in the 5th Marine Regiment of the First Marine Division near An Hoa.

Johns' favorite task in Vietnam was "serving as a radio operator on Medical Civic Action Platoon...to offer free medical care to anyone who needed it out in the villages we visited." John's sense of compassion and community revealed themselves early in his tour in Vietnam while commo man for the base garbage detail. "...it was absolute pandemonium as hundreds of men, women and children frantically scrambled for a chance to maybe find something to eat in the garbage we were dumping."

We are right there with John in monsoon season, foxholes, guard duty and many missions. John tells it like it was for him, and shares his emotions and thoughts, which for a Marine is very difficult. His anticipation in "going back to the world on the freedom bird" certainly is not the only reason to read his book, but what he has accomplished since then.

John served as executive director of three large regional food banks in Michigan for the past 28 years and distributed 321 million pounds of food. John is the kind of human being I always hung out with while in the Corps. This book is special because it has forged a spiritual giant of a man, who is still serving mankind with it.

The book has changed me and made me more appreciative of every moment of life. Let's all pray for John as he now is in the last firefight of his life. We are there for you brother. Ain't nothin' but a thing man.

p.s. — John passed away March 27, 2012. He was trying to hang on until the Veteran came out. I shared the review with him a month before he died. Peace — Aaron.

Aaron Davis is VVAW contact in Utah. He was a Marine Corps sergeant in the early 70's and army officer in the 1980's.

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