In 1968 James T. Gillam was a poorly focused college student at Ohio University who was dismissed and then drafted into the Army. Unlike most African-Americans who entered the Army then, he became a Sergeant and an instructor at the Fort McClellan Alabama School of Infantry. In September 1968 he joined the First Battalion, 22nd Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam. Within a month he transformed from an uncertain sergeant--who tried to avoid combat--to an aggressive soldier, killing his first enemy and planning and executing successful ambushes in the jungle. Gillam was a regular point man and occasional tunnel rat who fought below ground, an arena that few people knew about until after the war ended. By January 1970 he had earned a Combat Infantry Badge and been promoted to Staff Sergeant.
Then Washington's politics and military strategy took his battalion to the border of Cambodia. Search-and-destroy missions became longer and deadlier. From January to May his unit hunted and killed the enemy in a series of intense firefights, some of them in close combat. In those months Gillam was shot twice and struck by shrapnel twice. He became a savage, strangling a soldier in hand-to-hand combat inside a lightless tunnel. As his mid-summer date to return home approached, Gillam became fiercely determined to come home alive. The ultimate test of that determination came during the Cambodian invasion. On his last night in Cambodia, the enemy got inside the wire of the firebase, and the killing became close range and brutal.
Gillam left the Army in June 1970, and within two weeks of his last encounter with death, he was once again a college student and destined to become a university professor. The nightmares and guilt about killing are gone, and so is the callous on his soul. Life and Death in the Central Highlands is a gripping, personal account of one soldier's war in the Vietnam War.
Number 5 in the North Texas Military Biography and Memoir Series
"Jim Gillam experienced real combat in his Vietnam tour. His stunning accounts of killing and avoiding being killed ring true. Although wounded several times, Jim did not leave the field for treatment in a field hospital, so he never generated the paperwork for a Purple Heart or two or three. Although he would be appalled at the thought, his attention to duty was 'lifer' behavior, a concern for the well-being of his squad that represents the best of NCO leadership in any army."--Allan R. Millett, author of Semper Fidelis and coauthor of A War to Be Won
"[Gillam] looks back on his experiences of Vietnam not solely as a participant in the war, but also with the critical eye of a trained historian. . . . [He] uses an impressive array of after action reports, duty officer logs, battlefield reports, and other primary source material, to back up and reinforce his recollections."-- Journal of Military History review by James H. Willbanks, author of The Tet Offensive
"Gillam, a 'shake and bake' sergeant, presents a good account of small unit infantry action during the war. He is very good at explaining the weaponry, tactics, and living conditions in the field."--James E. Westheider, author of The African-American Experience in Vietnam
Special Forces at War: an Illustrated History, Southeast Asia 1957-1975 by wartime veteran and military historian Shelby l. Stanton comprises ten chapters, chronologically arranged, that show Special Forces' activity from the first deployments of Green Berets into battle, through their ever-expanding instruction and training, wartime advisory, border surveillance, strike force, and special operations roles. No matter what the task, the Special Forces served with valor and dedication.
This photographic history is unprecedented in scope. Featuring rare and unpublished images, it presents an exclusive, insider view of covert activities such as Project Delta, whose Special Forces-trained Vietnamese commandos, nicknamed "road-runners," posed as North Vietnamese Army or Viet Cong troops behind communist lines. It depicts Special Forces' camps before, during, and after enemy assaults. It features an array of lethal weapons used by resourceful Green Berets fighting to preserve their remote outposts, as well as allied and enemy documents and propaganda. From ordinary camp life to special missions, no aspect of Special Forces activities during the Second Indochina War has been overlooked. Stanton knows his subject first hand.
During six years of active duty as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army, he served as a paratrooper platoon leader, an airborne ranger advisor to the Royal Thai Army Special Warfare Center, and a Special Forces long-range reconnaissance team commander in Southeast Asia before being wounded in combat in Nam Yu, LaosThrough his contacts with Special Forces veterans and his own research, Stanton has assembled hundreds of photographs, details.
The Vietnam War remains deep in the nation’s consciousness. It is vital that we know exactly what happened there–and who made it happen. This book provides a complete account of American Army ground combat forces–who they were, how they got to the battlefield, and what they did there. Year by year, battlefield by battlefield, the narrative follows the war in extraordinary, gripping detail. Over the course of the decade, the changes in fighting and in the combat troops themselves are described and documented. The Rise and Fall of an American Army represents the first total battlefield history of Army ground forces in the Vietnam War, containing much previously unreleased archival material. It re-creates the feel of battle with dramatic precision.
“Stanton’s writing . . . gives the reader a terrifying graphic description of combat in the many mini-environments of Vietnam.”
–The New York Times
“[A] MOVING, IMPORTANT BOOK.”
–St. Louis Post-Dispatch
From the Paperback edition.
For those with a vivid memory of the Vietnam war, there is consolation in knowing that the impact of that war altered and shaped politics and warfare for the next generations. But in that altering we must take the lessons and apply them to new situations, new challenges and new policy dilemmas. To fail to do so would mean that the warriors at Khe Sanh and all of Vietnam were truly expendable, The battle of Khe Sanh was won and the Vietnam war was lost at the same time. Expendable Warriors describes at multiple levels the soldiers and marines who were expendable in the American political chaos of Vietnam, 1968. On January 21, 1968, nine days before the Tet offensive, tens of thousands of North Vietnamese regulars began the attacks on the Khe Sanh plateau, which led to the siege of the Khe Sanh Combat Base.
Conventional wisdom holds that the junior officer in Vietnam was a no-talent, poorly trained, unmotivated soldier typified by Lt. William Calley of My Lai infamy. Drawing on oral histories, after-action reports, diaries, letters, and other archival sources, Ron Milam debunks this view, demonstrating that most of the lieutenants who served in combat performed their duties well and effectively, serving with great skill, dedication, and commitment to the men they led. Milam's narrative provides a vivid, on-the-ground portrait of what the platoon leader faced: training his men, keeping racial tensions at bay, and preventing alcohol and drug abuse, all in a war without fronts. Yet despite these obstacles, junior officers performed admirably, as documented by field reports and evaluations of their superior officers.
More than 5,000 junior officers died in Vietnam; all of them had volunteered to lead men in battle. Based on meticulous and wide-ranging research, this book provides a much-needed serious treatment of these men--the only such study in print--shedding new light on the longest war in American history.