ONE TOUGH MARINE by Donald N. Hamblen


The Autobiography of First Sergeant Donald N. Hamblen, USMC
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 Stand-up, anecdotal, typical reminiscences of one of the Corps' all-time tough guys. Putting his career in historical perspective, and writing with fellow retired Marine Norton, Hamblen--a career Marine enlisted man--relates his adventures during and after the Korean War and in Vietnam. As a Maine farm boy, the author knew rough living, so it wasn't surprising that he was more prepared for the hellish experience of boot camp than were many of his peers. As a PFC, Hamblen was sent to Korea as a replacement. The conflict had stagnated into trench warfare, but the author made his mark as a sniper and in other ways. His memoirs of Korea are detailed, and, here, he gives what's arguably the most underpublicized war in American history some varnish. Several years later, looking for new challenges, Hamblen joined the elite force recon--the Marine Corps equivalent of the SEALs and the Green Berets--but, in 1962, he parachuted on to some high-tension power lines and lost his left leg. How Hamblen responded to this accident makes his book's title crystal clear: Recovering, he not only remained in the service but was among four Marines who were accepted into SOG (the supersecret Vietnam War Studies and Observation Group). SOG teams typically operated behind enemy lines all over Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, North Vietnam, even China), kidnapping NVA officers, conducting sabotage raids, and gathering intelligence. Unfortunately, this portion of the author's memoir cries out for far greater detail: Hamblen glosses over Vietnam in 60 pages. A mere hint of a fascinating life. But Hamblen refuses to name the names of guys who back-stabbed him, and his recounting lacks the smell of cordite, the sound of guns, the cries of the dying and wounded.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-345-38481-4
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1993