Haunted by a continued sense of loss and guilt, a former Marine Corps Captain investigates the death of his childhood friend in Vietnam.
As teenagers living in Lubbock, Texas in the 1960s, David and Lee Roy knew that their road to an education would be through the military. In this poignant debut memoir, Nelson looks at how the friends’ two paths diverged, and he examines his own attempt to find spiritual affirmation. Caught up in concerns about his life and career advancement, Nelson began to drift away from Lee Roy, and decided to seek Marine Corps backing for a law degree to qualify for a JAG assignment. Lee Roy opted to serve in the infantry, graduated and went through a year at the army's Monterey Language Institute, learning Vietnamese. He received his papers to go to Vietnam in November 1968. By the end of February 1969, he was dead, killed in the course of Operation Dewey Canyon; he was 23. Nelson didn't attend the funeral, telling himself that he couldn't spare the time from law school. A chance encounter with one of Lee Roy’s comrades in Lubbock in 1997 put Nelson on the trail of reconstructing his friend’s story. In 2001, Nelson established the Lee Roy Herron Scholarship Fund in Texas Tech's Vietnam Center. The scholarship program helps Texas Tech students study in Vietnam.
Nelson neatly pulls together the story of two lives, representatives of their generation, to build something more durable and more valuable than personal memories alone.