Though Joe W. Harrison left the war in Viet Nam in April of 1968, it has never left him. The 67-year-old author, who currently serves as associate pastor at a cowboy church in Texas, has penned this memoir as a tribute to his fellow soldiers, living and dead.
His story begins when he decides to re-enter the army. Previously, he had served three years in Germany and then completed four semesters of college, but was unable to find a job. This time, he is sent to South Viet Nam in March 1967 with the 11th armored cavalry and assigned to set up listening posts for advanced enemy detection. In a single year, he painfully cheats death numerous times–through encounters with a pit viper, giant red ants and leeches; getting shot by a sniper; crashing in a helicopter while serving as a door gunner; and being thrown a live baby with a grenade attached to it by a random woman as he stood on a street corner. Throughout his experiences, he learns the slim divide between life and death often depends solely on the selfless acts of others.
This is a tale simply told, with numerous spelling and punctuation errors and lacking in any literary devices. That being said, it does have truth on its side, as Harrison offers a detailed, honest and sometimes gruesome yet passionate account of his intimate war experiences. The story is compelling in its “you are there” mode of writing and shows clearly what bravery in combat means.
The book most likely would hold appeal for other soldiers and veterans and is not likely to have a shelf life in bookstores or libraries due to its need for better organization, copy editing and pertinent details that would lend better context to his story.
Also available in ebook.