Member Books for September 2015

Nonfiction

The Longest Rescue: The Life and Legacy of Vietnam POW William A. Robinson. By Glenn Robbins. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0-8131-4323-1.

While serving as a crew chief aboard a U.S. Air Force Rescue helicopter, Airman First Class William A. Robinson was shot down and captured in Ha Tinh Province, North Vietnam, on September 20, 1965. After a brief stint at the "Hanoi Hilton," Robinson endured 2,703 days in multiple North Vietnamese prison camps, including the notorious Briarpatch and various compounds at Cu Loc, known by the inmates as the Zoo. No enlisted man in American military history has been held as a prisoner of war longer than Robinson. For seven and a half years, he faced daily privations and endured the full range of North Vietnam's torture program.

In The Longest Rescue: The Life and Legacy of Vietnam POW William A. Robinson, Glenn Robins tells Robinson's story using an array of sources, including declassified U.S. military documents, translated Vietnamese documents, and interviews from the National Prisoner of War Museum. Unlike many other POW accounts, this comprehensive biography explores Robinson's life before and after his capture, particularly his estranged relationship with his father, enabling a better understanding of the difficult transition POWs face upon returning home and the toll exacted on their families. Robins's powerful narrative not only demonstrates how Robinson and his fellow prisoners embodied the dedication and sacrifice of America's enlisted men but also explores their place in history and memory.

Military Beginnings: Early Development of American and Maryland Forces. By Maj. Richard J. Martiny, USA (Ret), Star Spangled Banner (Md.) Chapter. CreateSpace. ISBN 978-1-48264-949-9.

Military Beginnings opens with an examination of the development of militia and regular military forces in the Near East, the Mediterranean rim and Europe, from their ancient beginnings to the early 17th century, when the American colonization was in its infancy. The focus then shifts from the Old World to the New, primarily Maryland, where its early development of militia military units and their utilization in the Province’s defense against internal and external threats is dealt with in detail through the Seven Years/French and Indian War. As the Revolution approached, Maryland and the other colonies stepped up their efforts to develop independent military forces, initially to defend themselves, and then to aggressively engage the British. Smallwood’s Maryland Regiment was the first regular military unit created by the Marylanders in early 1776. It became the state’s first regiment incorporated into the growing Continental Army commanded by George Washington. After he had successfully forced William Howe to leave Boston for Halifax, Nova Scotia, Washington moved his army to New York. He thought, correctly, that it would be Howe’s next objective. Howe departed from Halifax and in the summer of 1776 met the British and Hessian troops that his brother Lord Richard’s fleet had brought from Europe on Staten Island. Washington positioned the majority his troops on Long Island in the mistaken belief that they would be able to adequately cope with and contain the British professionals. Howe also transferred his units to Long Island. On August 27, 1776 he attacked, maneuvered around the Americans’ left flank and proceeded to route them. Washington’s army was disintegrating before his eyes. Smallwood’s Maryland Regiment, with fewer than 400 men, attacked thousands of enemy soldiers multiple times, delaying their advance and allowing many of the fleeing Americans to reach the safety of Brooklyn Heights. Military Beginnings explores Smallwood’s Regiment in detail, its origins, organization, and training in an attempt to determine what military traditions, if any, what expertise, if any, what experience, if any, existed which the Marylanders could build on when creating their Revolutionary War military units, especially this one. Washington’s army was able to withdraw from Long Island and survived five years until it forced Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown in October 1781. Smallwood’s Regiment became the core of what evolved into two Maryland Brigades, which fought successfully throughout the rest of the war. They weren't at Yorktown, but their actions and bravery on Long Island were instrumental in allowing the Continental Army to survive long enough to get there. Military Beginnings answers the question of how they did it

The Road to Modern Rocketry. By Cmdr. Doug Gangler, USN (Ret), Life Member. Champion Books. ISBN 978-0-9915177-0-1.

In this riveting book, Doug Gangler brings alive the fast-moving yet intensive history of the modern rocket. Featured are forty-one rocket and space "attractions" spread over the five countries - Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Russia, and the United States - in which the story of the modern rocket occurred. Discussed are:

--Russian Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, American Robert Goddard, Austro-Hungarian-German Hermann Oberth, France's Robert Esnault-Pelterie, German-American Wernher von Braun, the Soviet Union's Sergei Korolev, and other great rocketeers.

--The German A-4/V-2 which was the critical link to modern rocketry. This wartime rocket was controversial, yet marked amazing technological progress for its era.

--The latter 1940s/1950s which saw rocket efforts first aimed at ballistic missiles; major resources and technologies were soon also directed toward developing the great launch vehicles - to this day taking magnificent payloads to space.

Pure, fascinating history with a good dose of rocket technology, "The Road to Modern Rocketry" relies on Doug's seamless blending of sources including great publications, archival work, and a superb collection of images, to bring a fresh perspective to rocketry. The present-day launch bases, test/engineering centers, museums, old WW II planned launch bunkers, memorials, rocket/space theme parks, and monuments are an almost unique set of sites telling the incredible, inspirational story of the modern rocket. Let the journey begin!

Fiction

Article 93: Cruelty and Maltreatment. By Lt. Col. William C. Westgard, USA (Ret), Life Member. CreateSpace. ISBN 978-1500885977.

Article 93: Cruelty and Maltreatment is a military justice procedural novel. It is set in West Germany in 1964 and recounts the death of an insubordinate trouble maker soldier who has been physically beaten by his superior. It also involves the attempted manipulation of the justice system by a senior commander to his own benefit. It is the fourth in a series on the military-legal career of Charles Kimbrough and his romance with Mathilde von Beningsen.

Article 99: Misbehavior Before the Enemy. By Lt. Col. William C. Westgard, USA (Ret),
Life Member. CreateSpace. ISBN 978-1503316348.

Article 99: Misbehavior Before the Enemy is the fifth in the series recounting the military legal career of Charles Kimbrough and his romance with Matti von Beneingsen. In this story, Kimbrough is assigned to defend an American officer who is falsely accused, based on racist bias, of cowardice in combat by his military superior. The case is set in the [former] Republic of Vietnam. While it is not based on a real incident, the events and environments described, especially the combat operations of the Republic of Vietnam Army, reflect the author's personal experience.

Article 104: Aiding the Enemy. By Lt. Col. William C. Westgard, USA (Ret), Life Member. CreateSpace. ISBN 978-1507766668.

Article 104: Aiding the Enemy is the sixth novel in the series of military-legal mysteries recording the career of Charles Kimbrough in the Army Judge Advocate General's Corps and his romance with Matti von Beningsen. It is set in the [former] Republic of Vietnam (RVN) and describes the clandestine espionage activities of a young American soldier, the counterintelligence operations of both US and RVN Army agents, the soldier's apprehension and his court-martial. Although not based on real circumstances, the plot reflects the author's experiences, especially the combat actions, during his service in Vietnam. The American soldier, Mark Salzman, is the product of a family in which his parents are both active, covert Communists under the control of the Soviet KGB. He is led to enlist in the Army specifically to act as a penetration agent, and, as the book opens, he has completed two years in France in that capacity and is now working in a US Army detachment advising the armor center of the RVN Army. His work has resulted in Viet Cong successes until the counterintelligence agents discover him, provide him with false information, and offer him redemption to become a double agent. Salzman renegs on the agreement, is apprehended and is tried by general court-martial.

Darker Than Dark: A Story of Courage and Compassion as Four Young Marines Fight to Survive the Vietnam War. By Maj. Gen. John Admire, USMC (Ret), Life Member. Yorkshire Publishing. ISBN 978-1-942451-04-4.

This is a story of the Vietnam War and four young Marines. It's about fighting and killing. Compassion and love, however, are defining parts of the story. The story personalizes what war does to those who fight it and what they do to survive it. Enduring and caring relationships forged in combat are as much a part of their survival, maybe more, as their combat skills. While the book is fiction, the majority is based on actual battles and personal experiences. Vietnam was a challenging war for those on the battlefield to fight as well as those on the home front to support. The conflict was a limited war and the complex nature of such war was confusing and contentious to many. The combatants' frustrations with the war's limitations and the miseries they endured are captured in the actions and thoughts of the Marines. Their story is about living and dying in combat. But it's also about the love and loyalty they share in a truly unique relationship. It's a story that testifies to the human spirit and will as well as the belief that love and friendship conquer all...even the hatreds and animosities of war. The Marines share with you their hopes and dreams as they struggle with the despairs and nightmares of Vietnam. They take you into their battles and bunkers. They acquaint you with combat's horror and humor. The story is the universal infantryman's story for most all who have fought in war-the challenge of defying death daily while fighting to survive till tomorrow. This is also, however, America's story. In the aftermath of Vietnam the consensus was that the war's true legacy would be the lessons learned from it. Vietnam was insidious as well as instructive. Today, the war on terror and the dysfunction of various states and the ideological rivalries in the international community pose serious threats to the stability and security of our world. Then, as well as now, the conflicts of our time and the future present us with challenges similar to Vietnam. We must understand them to protect our freedoms and nation and peace. John Admire is a Vietnam and Gulf War Marine. His 43-year United States Marine Corps career includes 33 years of active duty and 5 combat tours as an Infantry Marine, plus 10 years as a consultant and advisor with the US Joint Forces Command and Military Academy Headmaster. He commanded units world-wide at every level from an Infantry Platoon Leader in Vietnam to the Commanding General, 1st Marine Division in California. He served as the Senior Military Social Aide to the President of the United States at the White House, as the Marine Corps' Legislative Liaison to the United States Congress on Capitol Hill, and as a member of General Colin Powell's Joint Staff in the Pentagon. John is an Oklahoman, born and reared in Tulsa. He is a Phi Beta Kappa and Honors graduate of the University of Oklahoma with one Bachelor's and four Master's degrees.

Saigon Gold. By Lt. Col. Hugh J. Scott, USA (Ret), Grand Canyon (Ariz.) Chapter. Presage Press. ISBN 978-0979953484.

Saigon Gold won the 2010 Gold Medal award for fiction from the Military Writers Society of America.

Veterans and tourists will be entranced by this fast-paced thriller in which a decorated American officer returns to Vietnam and must face the harsh truths of his military exploits. The daring plot includes China's expansionist navy attempting to seize a key base, thus upsetting the balance of military power in the Western Pacific.

Robert Anderson is lured into a scheme to help a wartime friend recover a gold fortune. But a vengeful North Vietnamese official is watching. Discovery of cryptic documents about an ambush that only Anderson and a Vietnamese officer survived launches Anderson and companion Jenny Ngo on a wild chase around scenic Vietnam to unravel their secret before every witness is silenced by a mysterious killer.

This Nation Under Attack. By Lt. Col. Alex Salaiz, USAR (Ret), Life Member. FriesenPress. ISBN 978-4602-4553-8.

The extreme right wing (Tea Party) votes not to approve both the continuing resolution and the debt ceiling increase eventually causing the federal government to shutdown. This gives a wealthy expatriated American the idea that this is the process to use to bring the US government down. Failure to approve the debt ceiling increase would cause a catastrophic effect not only in the United States but throughout the free world because the United States would default on its debt. This would definitely bring the US economy down and destroy the country. A corrupt Congressman is bribed with a few thousand dollars by the wealthy expatriated American to keep the US Congress from approving a continuing resolution (CR) and the debt ceiling increase. But the Congressman was talking too much and the expatriated American sends a terrorist to shut him up by assassinating him. He does not need the Congressman; other members of Congress are doing what he wants done. Rookie FBI agent Chad Winters recognizes the assassin as a former Guantanamo detainee he had interviewed while he was in the Army and finds out the shooter is the link to the expatriated American. The goal of the expatriated American in conjunction with the al-Qaida leadership was to bring the United States down based on their Muslim propaganda beliefs that the United States is to blame for all of their nations’ problems. No more flying planes into buildings. They will instead use the US Congress to do their job. Will they succeed? The events become extremely challenging for the retired Army Colonel Winters more than the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq or the clandestine operation into Pakistan in solving the crime and bringing the expatriated American financier hiding in Yemen to face justice in the United States.

Totem. By Capt. James A.B. Hadman, USN (Ret), Life Member. iUniverse. ISBN 978-1-4917-6106-9.

When Abraham Petrovich leaves his native Russia to join the 1741 Bering Expedition of Discovery to explore what is now Alaska, he can only think of finding his fortune in a strange new land.

That vision comes to an abrupt halt, however, when he and a shipmate are captured by Tlingit natives near present-day Sitka after a horrifying bear attack.

Abraham's ability to adapt to an alien culture is tested, and with the help of the village chief and guidance from his wife, he fits into what he discovers is a complicated society.

The shaman wants to kill the whitefaces, but the chief wants to learn from the strangers. When the shaman conspires to get his way, Abraham and his surviving family flee Sitka fearing for their lives.

Finding refuge in Klawak, Abraham immerses himself in Tlingit life-not knowing that he'll soon make an eerie discovery on a deserted beach that will solidify his place among the Tlingits.

Abraham continues his incredible journey, seeking whitefaces like himself, but he ultimately finds something much more valuable as he explores the land and meets new people in Totem.

Memoir

A Different Face of War: Memories of a Medical Service Corps Officer in Vietnam. By Col. James G. Van Straten, USA (Ret), Life Member, MOAA Alamo (Texas) Chapter. University of North Texas Press. ISBN 978-1574416176.

A Different Face of Waris a riveting account of one American officer in the Medical Service Corps during the early years of the Vietnam War.

Assigned as the senior medical advisor to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam in I Corps, an area close to the DMZ, James G. Van Straten traveled extensively and interacted with military officers and non-commissioned officers, peasant-class farmers, Buddhist bonzes, shopkeepers, scribes, physicians, nurses, the mentally ill, and even political operatives. He sent his wife daily letters from July 1966 through June 1967, describing in impressive detail his experiences, and those letters became the primary source for his memoir.

The author describes with great clarity and poignancy the anguish among the survivors when an American cargo plane in bad weather lands short of the Da Nang Air Base runway on Christmas Eve and crashes into a Vietnamese coastal village, killing more than 100 people and destroying their village; the heart-wrenching pleadings of a teenage girl that her shrapnel-ravaged leg not be amputated; and the anger of an American helicopter pilot who made repeated trips into a hot landing zone to evacuate the wounded, only to have the Vietnamese insist that the dead be given a higher priority.

An Airman’s Journey: From 1947 Enlistment Through 1972 — Always a New Adventure. By Maj. Robert M. Fletcher, USAF (Ret). Strategic Book Group. ISBN 978-1-63135-400-7.

From enlistment at Fort Benning, Georgia in 1947 to Las Vegas, Warner Robins, post-war Japan, to Korea, Germany, and Okinawa, Robert Fletcher rose through the ranks of the US Air Force and proudly retired as a Major with full honors. His chosen field was meteorology and he later became a high school physics teacher. Truly "a life well lived". Fort Benning, Georgia • Lackland, San Antonio, Texas • Randolph, San Antonio, Texas • Goodfellow, San Angelo, Texas • Las Vegas, Nevada • Robins, Warner Robins, Georgia • Camp Stoneman, California • Johnson, Japan • Korea • Germany • University of Georgia, (AFROTC) • Tyndall, Panama City, Florida • Tinker, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma • Oklahoma A&M, Stillwater, Oklahoma • Pinecastle, Orlando, Florida • McCoy, Orlando, Florida • Naha, Okinawa, Japan • Grand Forks, North Dakota • Shemya, Alaska • Ramstein, Germany • Simmons, Fort Bragg, North Carolina • Pope, Fayetteville, North Carolina • Tanson Knut-Vietnam • Eglin, Florid