I actually finished this book up a couple of weeks ago, but it has taken me that long to process what all was included in it, as well as to be able to write about it. At first I was skeptical about this, I mean, i had watched and loved We Were Soldiers, and wasn’t sure if I wanted to read another book like that, but this surpassed all expectations. It tells the story of a company battling for Matterhorn, a mountain on the border between Vietnam and Laos. You meet 2LT Mellas, a Princeton grad who joined the Marines because it would look good on his resume, not because he actually thought about having to deploy; 1LT Fitch in charge of the company, in a position that normally goes to a CAPT and his wanting to care for his soldiers, but also deal with the higher-ups. There are a host of other characters through-out but I can’t do justice to the vividness of how all these boys, because that is what they truly were, were portrayed. The individuals who were 18 and 19 years old, some of them on 2nd tours in country; the 21 and 22 year olds, sometimes on their 3 and 4th tours – filling roles that normally would be taken by much older and experienced Marines, but those just didn’t exist anymore. And then there was LtCol. Simpson, the officer in charge of the battalion, who seemed to be in it more for the glory and making himself look good than the success of his battalion – a old Marine from previous wars, it was obvious that he shouldn’t have been in charge of the battalion with the mistakes that were being made and the decisions that were forced upon the soldiers – days of no food and water, running out of ammunition because re-supply was unavailable.
There were times while I was reading it, that I reached down to wipe the jungle rot off my hands, his portrayl was that vivid. You felt the pain of the Marines, when their fellow soldiers died, especially the more popular ones. And the undertones of the Civil Rights movement in the US and how it affected the military – the Marines who followed the teachings of the Black Panthers, who would do anything to bring attention to the cause and the senior leadership, several of whom were racist and how they dealt with the Marines. The ending blew my mind as to what happened, then it seemed to start all over again