Sun. Oct 13th, 2019

The 12 Best Novels About Vietnam For All Times

#12 The Cross of Gallantry: A story about Marines in Vietnam who sacrificed, fought and died during combat operations along the DMZ in 1967-68 by Patrick M. Blake

Description of the book:

The Cross of Gallantry is a story about Vietnam that is told at two levels – a personal journey for two young Americans, and a portrayal of the gross mistakes made by politicians and the Pentagon’s civilian leadership.The personal story is about Frank O’Brian and Mike Morgan, two middle class Americans who join the Marine Corps in 1967 and go to Vietnam where they are thrown into the middle of bloody combat operations on the DMZ. Their story begins when they meet on a Greyhound bus, headed to Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island. It continues through Marine Infantry Training Regiment (ITR) and their visits home to say goodbye to family and friends, finally entering the pipeline of replacement with thousands of other young Americans headed for Vietnam. They are assigned to 2nd Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, the Battalion Landing Team (BLT) for the 3rd Marine Division. They join the battle-hardened Marines of Charlie Company, a brotherhood of veterans where most have earned at least one Purple Heart for combat wounds. Their story continues through a landing, search and destroy operations, building bunkers along the DMZ, crossing minefields, being hit with friendly fire, and engaging in close combat firefights.Their personal experience reflects on the overarching story of every troop involved in the Vietnam War. Four major military planning mistakes made in Washington and implemented in Vietnam had a deadly impact on American troops. First, the original strategy of the generals of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was offensive — to win the war — was ignored by President Johnson when he chose to adopt the political-military strategy promoted by Defense Secretary McNamara and his team of “whiz kids.” They devised a defensive strategy, a “war of attrition”, based on obtaining a “10-to 1 kill ratio.” Second, the Pentagon orders the construction “McNamara’s Wall” – across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), an “impenetrable” bunker system built across the entire DMZ.The third fatal mistake was the initiation of Operation Ranch Hand, the defoliation of the DMZ with Agent Orange. Air Force planes sprayed millions of gallons of the deadly poison on the vegetation across the DMZ.Finally, the M-16 rifles provided to combat units in Vietnam by the Pentagon jammed repeatedly. Gene Stoner, the designer of the M-16 and its manufacturer, Colt Manufacturing Company, warned the Pentagon that the Improved Military Rifle (IMR) propellant or gunpowder should be used in the ammunition for the M-16. The “whiz-kids” and Army Ordnance over-ruled Stoner and Colt, which caused the cause weapons to jam. Frank, Mike, Charlie Company, and the entire 3rd Marine Division struggled, fought, suffered, survived, and died in the hell created by these mistakes imposed by Washington. The Cross of Gallantry takes you into the combat units, on the ground in search and destroy operations, the futility of building bunkers, the tragedy of friendly fire casualties, and the insanity behind a foreign war of attrition.The political-military strategy was never designed to “win” the war in Vietnam, but combat troops still won countless battles. The Cross of Gallantry tells the stories of Marines who struggled, fought and died as brothers on the DMZ in Vietnam in 1967-68.For a longer description please visit