vet-book-web.jpg

This Veterans Day is a very appropriate time to introduce readers to Rappahannock County author James G. Brown’s latest book, “Fletcher's War: A Two Roads Home Novel Book 2.”

Book 2 refers to the work being the second novel building on his first work, “The Morning Side a Two Roads Home Novel.” Continuing from a well written and plotted first book, and especially for Rappahannock residents, the first book is an exceptionally well told story of two sons of Rappahannock making their American journey. 

“Jerry Fletcher and David Williams are seniors at Rappahannock High School, ready to graduate and get on with their lives. They are more concerned with the baggage they have inherited from their parents than Civil Rights or the Gulf of Tonkin,” a summary of Brown’s first book reads.

However fate intervenes and Jerry is drafted and sent to Vietnam. In “Fletcher’s War,” author Brown sets a very high bar for himself by writing a novel about the Vietnam War. This is because there are still over 600,000 in-theater veterans alive out of approximately the 2.7 million that actually served in South East Asia. Of the 52 million “baby boom” generation, 9 million were in uniform service during the war; most served in the US and different parts of the globe.

The reason why the bar is set so high for his attention to detail and the creation of a riveting combat narrative is because we had a brutal saying during Vietnam, where I was on active duty from 1965 to 1975, first in Annapolis then in USMC combat service: “You can talk the talk but can you walk the walk?”

Metaphorically author Brown has “walked the walk.” His research is amazing and he is the personification of a very good writer who creates a riveting work of art because he follows the inviolate rule of good writing, which is to show not tell. 

With great writing skill he shows the reader the combat and moral testing, through Jerry and members of his unit, what many went through in serving in direct combat under very nasty conditions. It is dangerous for a reviewer to say too much in critiquing a war novel because violence comes and is often unforgiving. The plot twists are superbly executed and best left for the reader to be engrossed in by reading a very riveting story.

One additional Veterans Day point should be made: No country can ever totally repay the cost of war but as a deeply caring nation we all trust that our veterans will not die alone in the dark. It is often the aftermath of a war that needs attention. 

Watching the fall of Saigon in April 1975 on active duty as a Marine Captain, our stateside unit was notified that the brother of the last Marine killed in Vietnam was serving with us. It brought the loss of that war very close to home. 

Consequently, the next generation of veterans, those who served in combat in Iraq and especially Afghanistan, have just seen the total tactical and strategic debacle that was the falloff of a city and country (Afghanistan) last summer. It has to hurt like the fall of South Vietnam hurt. I can offer two data points if helpful.  

Ninety one percent of my fellow Vietnam veterans who saw combat — in spite of everything, including their boomer peers blaming the warrior for the war — feel a sense of pride in their service. I hope this next generation feels the same. 

The second is the number of Vietnam veterans taken by the deadly effects of exposure to Agent Orange is a pernicious number estimated at over 400,000. It was tragic that it took so long to make the chemical’s deadly health effects eligible for service-connected disability compensation. 

That over 20-year mistake hopefully will not be repeated, as the Department of Veterans Affairs has created “The Gulf War Registry.” If one served in Iraq or Afghanistan research, this link might be helpful: https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/gulfwar/benefits/registry-exam.asp



 

Recommended for you