A Vietnam veteran’s debut memoir offers a tribute to his fellow soldiers.
Trimmer provides a detailed reminiscence of his personal experiences as a soldier in Vietnam. Along the way, he places his story in the wider context of the war and addresses the conditions and circumstances of veterans in the decades that followed. Trimmer has little affection for the Army itself and describes abysmal conditions while he was deployed, but he does value the bonds he formed with the men with which he served, and he makes clear that their fraternal loyalty continues to the present day. Personal stories, contributed by other members of Trimmer’s platoon, expand the story beyond his own experiences, and a chapter devoted to veterans who have died is particularly affecting. The author has less sympathy for people who opposed the war; “Hanoi Jane Fonda” and the “Ameri-Cong” media come in for particular vitriol, and Trimmer cites his opposition to “Hanoi John” Kerry’s 2004 presidential run as his motivation for beginning to speak publicly about Vietnam. He also offers devastating indictments of people who made it difficult for veterans to receive necessary support in their civilian lives. With his own diagnoses of PTSD and Type 2 diabetes caused by wartime exposure to Agent Orange, Trimmer has experienced many of the challenges that veterans face; however, as he notes, his “novice attempt at writing a book of this size may not be as fluid as most book readers are used to.” Although discrete sections offer cogent, vivid narratives, they’re disorganized and occasionally repetitive, and the author’s passion for his arguments often overwhelms his prose (“Historians should note that American troops were badly outnumbered on the battlefields of Vietnam. Americans who fought there and survived should be proud of this. BUT…THE MEDIA CONTINUES TO STEAL OUR VALOR!”).
An unevenly executed memoir about the disastrous results of the Vietnam War and its aftermath.