Vietnam's Other GIs

Nine out of ten of all US military personnel who served the Vietnam War did not fight.  Instead, they served in support of those who did. They were postal workers, military police, guards, office clerks, mechanics, cooks, and drivers.  Very few of their stories have ever been told. Van Carter was an Iowa boy who was sent to Vietnam as an infantry lieutenant, but who instead served as one of these rear echelon personnel. He discovered the other side of Vietnam, the side where all these people lived who worked in support of the soldiers in the field. He saw rampant drug use, prostitution and a huge racial divide between black and white American soldiers. He saw the absurdity of poor leadership, bad planning and even worse implementation of America’s war effort. He saw how everything and everyone became corrupted in Vietnam. And he, himself, succumbed to this all-pervasive corruption. He smoked dope, visited an authentic opium den, enabled some of the prostitution, openly defied authority, and made new rules he still hopes saved many from life-long addictions to heroin. And he fell in love. These are his recollections.


Van Carter is a retired Broadcast Journalist who received two national awards: the Distinguished Service Award from the Society of Professional Journalists in 1984 and the Lowell Mellett Citation from Penn State University in 1988, as well as numerous state and local awards. He was the Statehouse reporter in radio at Des Moines, Iowa and a Supervising Producer for television in Los Angeles, California. Born and raised in Iowa, he attended the University of Iowa prior to and following his service in Vietnam as a U. S. Army officer.


"One thing you got going for you is this universal soldier thread. Your title itself recasts the archetype. He's not the warrior (Another archetype, entirely, and one the military seems to prefer nowadays). No, the universal soldier is the guy who survives, the mother f**r who was in the rear. And there were a lot more of them than warriors. Their story is what, for most men, war was really like. It's what being a soldier is really like. When I finished the section in Saigon with Loan, I thought it was really a great piece of description and well paced. A lot happens that kicks the story into second gear: the pot, the mixing with the Vietnamese, the building of the narrator's character. There's nothing elemental to be changed there. I now recall that by the end of this chapter, I was hooked. Nice work." -- Dr. Richard Musser, professor emeritus and former Clyde Reed Teaching Professor at the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Kansas. 

"Van’s memoir is more than a commentary on the War, and more than a commentary on race relations, the drug culture of the early seventies, or the contradictions of the law. Van’s irony and sarcasm mask a profound capacity for sympathy and understanding of human strengths and frailties. His personality is a mixture of naiveté and sophistication, of idealism and skepticism, of clumsiness and dexterity. All of these traits are revealed in his memoir of Vietnam. This is some powerful stuff." -- 
Dr. Wilson J. Moses, Ferree Professor Emeritus of American History, Penn State University.

by John VanDevanter Carter
Trade paperback - 6 x 9 x .8
468 Pages
HISTORY / Military / Vietnam War
HISTORY / United States / 20th Century
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Price $19.95
Availability In-Stock

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