Book Review: Vietnam – The Teenage Wasteland by Tom Martiniano.

When someone recommended Tom Martiniano’s (#119 on the Indie 500 list) book Vietnam – The Teenage Wasteland: A Hippie In A War Zone, I wasn’t real anxious to read it.  I felt like I had had my share of woe-be-me remembrances of a pointless and desctructive conflict that I was fortunate enough by virtue of my age to have avoided.   But, once I started reading, it was difficult to put it down.

Tom writes the book in speaking English. It is familiar, it is real, and it puts you right into his head as he’s being showered by AK-47 bullets, shooting dozens of combatants who are attempting to kill him, doing involuntary backflips in reaction to bomb strikes, and starving for three days while helping to lead a small, battered platoon out of a valley encircled by thousands of North Vietnamese troops closing in from all sides.   Tom paints with his words a multi-dimensional moving picture of the action that in my view is far more authentic than any movie I have seen on Vietnam, drama or documentary.

This is anything but a pro-war memoir or patriotic plug.  Nor is it an apologia for having had to kill fellow human beings or an anti-war rant.  Tom was not in Vietnam by choice, he was drafted.  Tom has viewpoints – and they are fascinating and shared – but he does not let them get in the way of putting you through what he – and presumably thousands like him – experienced.  He took no satisifaction in killing others.  But he had enough sense and will to survive to become better at killing than those who were there to kill him. You cannot help but feel the compassion that drove him to defend himself and his fellows who were similarly thrown into the purposeless killing fields. In the end, Vietnam – The Teenage Wasteland is an incredible commentary on human nature and character.

Some of the more troubling passages recount Tom’s return to the States where he is met with ridicule, harassment, discrimination and hate.  Notwithstanding that treatment, Tom doesn’t turn the reader off  – like many before him have – with self-pride, self-loathing, demands for pity or acknowledgment.   Though he does not preach it, he does mention that Scientology might have had something to do with the balance and equillibrium he ultimately found.

But the book is not about Scientology.  It is about an extraordinary man giving a factual account of one of the sorriest chapters in United States history.  He doesn’t argue for that description, he demonstrates it for the reader.

By the end of the book I felt like smelting my own medal of valor and  personally pinning it to this man’s uniform.  In my book Tom Martiniano deserves a hundred hero’s welcomes.  This is mine to him.

Buy the book to find out what makes me feel this way at Vietnam – The Teenage Wasteland – A Hippie In A War Zone.

See Tom’s Declaration of Independence, here.

84 responses to “Book Review: Vietnam – The Teenage Wasteland by Tom Martiniano.

  1. A really great book, I enjoyed it so much I’m on my second read through it.

  2. I completely agree. I’ve told others to read it and then think twice about ever again whining …

    I’ve sold at least 6 books just in my local little community by raving about this book.

    It’s definitely not a pro-war book but neither is it an anti-war/military book.

    If you can get through the book without tears — well, I’m not sure how.

    Tom has quite the heroes welcome still coming to him … and I imagine as he becomes better known AS both a scientologist of the true sort as well as a Silver Star there will be more and more rightful acknowledgement coming his way.

    Christine

  3. An AMAZING book. Started reading it waiting for a plane flight. Don’t remember getting on the plane, don’t remember the three hour flight, I was engrossed from the get go to the end. Liked it so much I waited a few days and read it all over again.

    I’ve known Tom for thirty years and worked closely with him for a while, his stories of Nam were always fascinating. But after reading the book for the second time I realized there were a number of stories he’d told me that were not in the book. So the latest version is updated with additional material.

    For me personally it crystallized what I knew of leadership. I wouldn’t swap what I learned in this book for all the texts I’ve read on what constitutes leadership or the lack of it.

    • Yes, a wonderful study in leadership.

    • Hi Marty, I recommended the book to you and Mike, but I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. I was dumfounded while reading it that all the while I’ve known Tom, I was standing in the presence of historical greatness.

      Now I’m sure some think that is a nice compliment I just paid to Tom. No, it’s not like that. Imagine if what he did went so far beyond the word “greatness” that it boggles your mind, you can’t think of any words that are actually fitting, and so you settle for “greatness.”

      If “Vietnam: The Teenage Wasteland” is not the greatest story of courage of all time, it is a contender. What he did, what he accomplished… — yes, TOM, I’m talking about Tom Martiniano — the only words that can do it justice and the very words necessary to tell the story. Anything summation simply falls short.

      I don’t know when my own time will come, but when it does my last thoughts in this body might be of Tom. Not only will his exploits inspire greater courage in me for any challenge I may face, but his insight, too, lights the way like a torch.

      Tom discovered that when you finally face death, for real, you will ask yourself a question. He tells you what the exact question is and how it can be answered triumphantly.

      Its one thing to walk in the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

      It is another to crawl in the steaming heat of the sun, after you haven’t slept or eaten for 72 hours while the ground around you is exploding from the bullets being fired at you, and the supersonic bullets ripping past your ears leave you deafened from the shock waves alone, because an entire division of enemy troops is bent on ending your life, and they are not only shooting AK-47 bullets at you, but mortars, grenades and even rockets. Three times Tom has seen the peculiar orange halo with a black dot in the center. That is what a rocket looks like when it is fired at your face.

      After hundreds of battles during the course of a year, Tom survived three days of torturous fighting while out-numbered something like — not two or three to one, but maybe two or three dozen to one.

      How many bullets have wizzed by your head? I’m not talking about metaphorical bullets, I’m talking about real bullets. For Tom, it’s in the thousands. He and his platoon leader even had a price on their head! And for every man he killed, his efforts helped save the lives of even more Americans.

      Tom’s story could not be made into a movie — no one would believe it. But this is a case of fact being far more outrageous than fiction.

      Bonus, there is also an incredible introduction written by Haydn James! And toward the end of the book, Tom reveals something about Vietnam that goes even beyond his own personal story to finally make sense of a war that never made any sense to the entire world.

      Read this book. You are going to be dumbfounded. And I would not be surprised if he was mobbed at the next Indie celebration by people wanting autographs. I will be one of them.

      • Thanks Steve. You are a true wizard with words.
        BTW guys , we just finished cleaning the book up more and I re-uploaded it to amazon.com today (I didn’t know Marty was going to post this). It should be available in paperback tomorrow. Kindle is already back up and running and available now.

        ML Tom

        • FYI, I just clicked on the Amazon link (11PM Pacific Time, Sept. 8) and there is only one copy available, from Quick_N_Easy Marketplace in GA, for $999.99!!!! Plus $3.99 S&H!!!! Is this a double double leather bound edition? I’m quessing there will be a better price when you upload more copies. The Amazon site did not list an ebook edition, which is what I’d prefer. I’ll check with Amazon in a day or two and hope for a better price!.

        • Tom, I went to order this on Amazon and the lastest paper back edition available to order is Aug 2012, is that the one I should order?
          Betsy

    • i cant wait to read it, i was fortunate,to have avoided the war. i had friends in my hometown who never came back.

    • One of the reasons this book is so good is, as Marty points out, there is no woe-is-me, it is straight recall and factual, even funny at times. I am not sure there is another book quite like it. Tom says auditing was in part responsible for that. In comparison, one of my favourite productions, Band of Brothers which depicts the 101st’s exploits during WWII, has vets introduce the action and many cannot do so with breaking down, forty to fifty years on.

      Lets not forget Auditing was made for vets. No matter what Scientology Inc did or didn’t say about his war record, Ron Hubbard was in WWII, was a vet himself and much of his early auditing was on vets, particularly injured vets with mental barriers blocking recovery.

  4. I have already told Tom how much I love his book….I ended up having to buy a second one, as a retired Army Colonel came to my house, saw the book, picked it up and could not put it down….in the end, I gave it to him and I ordered another one. The book is fantastic. Lisa

  5. Thank you ever so much Marty. And thank you friends of mine: Dear dear friends who all helped me through the years.
    But the book is not really about me. Just to put all of this into perspective, I was one of thousands who went through similar if not worse in that war. However, I have had 100’s and 100’s of hours of auditing whose chains always seemed to go to basic at Vietnam. I am nearly clear on the subject! I can look back at it and talk about it without hesitation.
    I wrote the book so everyone can see how a soldier in the United States military has to grapple with a lot of things coming his wayand I want everyone to appreciate any combat veteran and revere him or her with respect. I had auditing and I can open up about it and tell all of these tales. But they are really tales of my brethen who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. And they are tales of the walking wounded who work their way through life somehow getting by. We need to help the ones who are walking around right now fighting their demons that haunt them on a daily basis. I am merely the lucky one.

    Thanks again Marty

    ML Tom

    • It is quite evident that you thoroughly as-is’d any reactivity created by the incident. That is what makes it so compelling; clearly no H, E and R of the author tainting true colors. On luck, I was going to venture you might be the only person ever to have felt some measure of luck for only being struck by lightening.

    • Tom, You are more than “merely the lucky one.” You were a cause point. I bought the kindle version the day I heard you had a book on Amazon. I read long into the night. Your story of Leroy, from Detroit, reminded in one sense of the Indies. One who has insight that is different than the sheeple. One who is a survivor (just as you were.)

      I didn’t go to Viet Nam but had many close college friends just coming back. Your story was incredible. Truthful, from the heart, and with the intent to just communicate the essence of being there. During the time I have known you, and the time we have spent together, I had no idea of what a truly great person you are and have been.

      I know you are not the only one. I also know many of those who post on these pages are just as strong as beings. DM, OSA bots and the mere robotic follows have no clue as to personal integrity, persaverence and the ability to survive that exists amongst this group.

      Whether the survival of the rigours of the Vietnam war, the loss of a son (as Karen has had to endure) or the loss of family from disconnection. All, in this greater family of man with a common thread, have shown strength in character, integrity and sheer guts. This is but one sample of why the Indie group is the future hope of all of the dreams of LRH.

      To all here I feel this video is applicable:

    • Hi Tom, I was an Aussie sapper from 79 – 86. Most of my comrades, NCOs & Officers were nearly all Vets. I too have much attention on the their welfare. I consider it very fortunate that I found Scientology and have a sanity saving perspective on those turbulent years. I find it sad that many of the people I knew through that period are no longer with us and never had the opportunities to experience the relief of a society willing to heal the rift. Alcohol, drugs & lonliness were the tomb of many I saw and am very grateful you have written a book that allows the truth to communicate and be known. All wars are terrible, the Vietam War was particularly nasty.

  6. Very well done Marty. I have started this book. Thanks

  7. I’ll have to procure more than several copies of Tom’s book, given that I was just hours ago commiserating at a local watering hole and cafe with a couple of buds who are Vietnam combat vets. Here’s something to read and keep at least one copy of in our home library. Good books never get returned.

    The title alone is enticing.

    Thanks Tom and Marty.

  8. I am going to have to read this book.

    I ve avoided anything pretaining to the Vietnam war,mainly
    it was 2 years of my life where getting killed every other day or actually not having a clue that you would be alive or dead by the afternoon only bothered me when it didnt bother me. A couple days after I came home I went to a theater and saw “The Green Berets” I feel sound asleep as the big fight scene started, the theater was packed and to my surprise I was waken up by someone cleaning the floor in an empty theater, he said “you missed a great show”.
    I was so happy to find Scientology, go Clear and OT
    such a crime of what D.M. has done to the tech.
    Having had things the size of telephone poles fly past you by feet
    and bullets the size of Beer cans blow up close enough to cook hot dogs on,
    thats what appealed to me about LRH , a World without Crime, insanity, or War. I still believe that can be done.

    Really like Martys Blog, keep up the great work,
    dont sweat the load.

    • Understood.

    • Welcome home Tango. I know you know that we have to pay forward big time for the guys who can’t. Repairing what DM did and getting Scn back on the rails is vital so we can clear this mudball and make sure there are no more Vietnams and so forth.
      Hoo-Raa?

      ML Tom

      • Dear Tom M,

        Vietnam was a set up deal from the git go till the end. JFK was going to end the Vietnam war and LBJ when he took the Oval Office reversed that and shifted every possible gear to get it going full speed. Conjuring up more demons than he could conjure down.
        74 -75 saw it was a lost cause. Kissinger made a diplomatic visit to Nepal that really was a deal making trip to China. Deal made to leave all hardware behind and the US just bails which we did. I am told that it was a Chinese plane
        with a Chinese very good pilot who flew the jet almost sidways through some mountains in the Himalayas for the confrence to make a surrender deal in Peking. The enti re war in Vietnam was a waste excep t o f course for th o se wo made huge money .
        The big solution is to change the Entheta to Theta ratio to more Theta much much more T heta. I believe LRH said that this Planets problem among others in bad management . I think going back to everything original LRH warts and all may no be far fetched once sheeple realize GAT and GAT 2 is a scam.
        Hooyah

        Tango

        I

  9. The Vietnam war was different in that, from what I gather, those who fought it bore the brunt of the ultimate anti-war sentiment; like they were to blame for doing their job.

    Contrast this with other unpopular wars (are there popular ones?) People support the troops in doing their job just not those who put them there.

    I’m not sure why the troops bore the brunt of a nations’ ire, I wasn’t around in the USA at the time, but I feel for those who were there and were pushed by loyalty to a nation to do things they were later condemned for.

    • Dean – the nation was swayed by a PR campaign initiated by our enemies to make the American soldier less effective. The war was villified as were the attendies to it. So we were the target of the frustrated American pubic. We were the wrong target and it was painful. I handled a Vet once who told me that on his way home he was waiting in the terminal and noticed 100’s of others waiting with him. A lot of them were standing against the walls because there were no seats. Yet seats on either side of him were vacant. This is the only time he wept.

      ML Tom

      • Tom, I refused to be drafted, but I did not revile those who went.

        There was propaganda about in those days, but I think the thrust of many who were against the war was to turn potential draftees against “the system” and war machine.

        Those who allowed themselves to be drafted were portrayed a bit as “koolaide drinkers” who were buying into the system’s war. They should never have been reviled by anyone, for serving in Vietnam, just as most of today’s CoS loyalists cannot really be reviled for their loyalty to the CoS. They were kids who trusted their country and it’s government and were trying to do the right thing.

        There was a lot of polarization back then. The Vietnam era came right on the heels of Senator Joe McCarthy’s “anti-communist” witch hunts and the earlier House Committee on Un-American Activites(HUAC). There were black hats and white hats.

        The treatment of Vietnam vets was shameful, but in general I see the strong Vietnam war protest movement as one outcome of the release of theta occasioned by LRH’s release of the OT Course. around 1967. There was a surge of idealism and confront of the true world situation and a thrust to build a better world; this was subverted by what I believe was the planned release of psychedelic drugs into the society.

        The promotion was basically to take psychedelic drugs and “Turn on, tune in, drop out” instead of participating in social and political activism which focused on the real problems of society. The creation and promotion of the “hippie drug culture” was a deliberate and largely successful attempt to introvert potential activists and turn them away from activism into a more passive withdrawal. And it worked to a large extent. However one of the great accomplishments of the protest movement was the elimination of the military draft.

        Today the potential for a military draft has been re-instated, but so far has not been used. However, vigilance is necessary or a draft could be re-activated at a moment’s notice.

  10. I’m an Army brat who grew up during the Vietnam conflict. My dad did three tours in Nam, and while we (the family) lived in Okinawa, I got so I could tell whether soldiers on the base were on their way to the fight, or going home. That war cast a mark on everyone who had anything to do with it. Some marks were more visible than others.

    At eighteen, I was eligible for the draft, and probably would have been called, but they were beginning to wind it all down that year. I never had to experience what my good friend Tom did.

    I’ve known about his book for a couple of weeks and was just thinking about ordering a copy. I’m going to do that now.

    Thank you for your service, Tom, and Welcome Home!

  11. Wow!! What a recommendation!
    I’m going to read it. I have never been real big on war stories but this review has got me very interested.

  12. Now I have two books to buy.
    Marty’s, which I am way late on picking up.
    And Tom’s.
    My dad wants a copy of Marty’s book, too.
    Make that three books to buy.

  13. This is really a great book, among the very best personal accounts that I’ve read about the Viet-Nam war. It is true heroism without the trappings of glory. For the glory without the heroism; you can watch Miscavige and tom Cruise salute each other.

  14. I’m sold. Just ordered my copy. Thanks to all of you for your insight on Tom’s message. Without reading, I’ll still say, “Thank you, Tom, for your courage and for sharing your story.”

  15. I really want to read it!!

  16. Wow.
    Why have I been slow on the draw on this one ?
    Okay Tom, I will be purchasing copies…which site is best to go to ?
    Congratulations.

    • I picked up my copy through amazon.com

      When I read Tom’s book, I could not put it down.
      I am not a fan of war stories nor military type movies,
      and still could not put it down….riveting.

      For those of you who have not yet read this book,
      I would suggest you first drive by any high school,
      and take a look at the seniors, and then drive by any
      college campus and take a look at the freshmen.
      Really look at the faces of those boys.
      Then, read the book.

      I agree with Tom regarding our veterans here at home.
      Once you have finished his book,
      next time you see one of our vets, really look at his face.

  17. I was the fortunate to get an advance copy of this book about 3 years ago, when the Tampa Bay Times Truth RD shit was exploding/imploding. Luckily I had a clear mind when I read it. It is a very interesting story indeed.

  18. Sounds like a great book. Ordering a copy now. Thanks for the heads up!

  19. Was this a partial inspiration for the title, by any chance?

    • Yes, for years I thought this was about Vietnam. I read it on Wiki and found out it was about somethinig else. But it still works ….”I don’t need to fight to prove I’m right: I don’t need to be forgiven.”
      ML Tom

  20. Alexis de Tocqueville

    No doubt many are glad Tom came home alive and in one piece from a war that took the lives of too many young men. As a side comment, Tom has never looked the age of a Viet Nam veteran. I was surprised to learn he served in that war. I’ll read his book. Like so many wars, we know and understand so little about them; Nam in particular. Kind of feel like I owe having a better understanding, as a point of honor and respect, to those who, like Tom, gave up so much.

  21. I got it but haven’t started reading it yet. Thanks for this review Marty, it’s next on my list. Tom’s a great guy and I’m glad to see that he was able to tell this story. I’m looking forward to starting it in a few days.

    I finished reading your book shortly after I last saw you and have been remiss in not reviewing it. In short, it was fantastic. I’ll be sure to give it it’s due here and on Amazon.com sometime soon as well.

    By the way, you play the piano beautifully!

  22. one of those who see

    Will definitely get the book. Congrats Tom. Marty, wonderful, well written review.

  23. Marty you have a medal of valor? (Or am I slow on the draw here?) Story please!

    • Thanks Martin – being relatively new, I had not seen it before – or perhaps not read it in proper context. I can recommend the read or re-read of Tom’s declaration of Independence together with Marty’s post above. Tom is a hero’s hero. And I just have to laugh to myself, to think that DM ever thought he might get the better of Tom – he does not understand what ‘tough” is. He A=A’s it with “mean”, and “cold chrome steel”. True tough comes from someone who cares enough, won’t compromise his integrity, has his comrade’s backs, and does not lose his head – no matter what the danger or threat to life and limb . That’s the toughness that Tom Martiniano has. DM (“folding cardtable”) is no match.

  24. Marty,
    Thanks for bringing up this subject. I shall read this book.

    “Some of the more troubling passages recount Tom’s return to the States where he is met with ridicule, harassment, discrimination and hate.”

    When I returned to the States in 1971 from a 13 month Army tour in Korea before the end of the Vietnam War, I was met with ridicule and indifference.
    I escaped the other negative states. Tom deserves respect especially from those who ridiculed me for Tom is the real hero.

    May all Viet Nam veterans be well and happy!
    George M. White

  25. Tom, good luck with the book. If I read any book on the subject, it will be yours. I hope it was liberating for you. I have shunned anything that even reminds me of that war. Tragic loss of life and mistreatment of those who obeyed their countrys call to duty.
    Today, 30 troops a month die in Afghanisstan and our country has become numb to that loss of life. Its hardly even news any more. Familes ripped apart and its out of sight and out of mind. That world without wars, insanity or criminals is still one thats worth striving towards. What a sin that the church became so twisted as it once embodied a lot of hope and potential to achieve that goal.

  26. Well done Tom…and to Marty for posting this. The day Dwight D. Eisenhower was leaving office he said “…beware of the military industrial complex…” He was punished for this by being labeled “…the do-nothing president…” which was a lie. If you’ve ever driven on an interstate highway thank Pres Eisenhower because he put that together and put it in motion. By the end of the 1940’s we had 100,000 “advisers” in Vietnam. Remember…no war ever takes place without natural resources to steal. Vietnam was no different. Throughout the decades of war not a single rubber plant was ever destroyed. MIchelin had to have those tires, etc. And the U.S. had interests in the oil in the Gulf Of Tonkin which after the war then Texaco, now Exxon, started off-shore drilling. In 1969 Howard Hughes called Richard Nixon and told him “…don’t you dare stop that war…I haven’t had time to retool my factories manufacturing ‘Baby Hughey’s!” So for an undeclared war (Vietnam) some 58,000 American lives were lost. Truly…Tom got it right…what a wasteland. Sadly, history repeats itself, as we are now longer in Afghanistan than Vietnam (because of the natural gas pipeline that runs through the country). History is taught by dates and names to confuse us so we don’t remember…rather than by concept and relevance. If it was taught by concept the population would see that they’re being duped and would stop falling for their rhetoric. Hmmm…Vietnam…Afghanistan…Iraq…SSDD…same shit…different decade!!!

    • The late Fletcher Prouty was the head of Special Operations for the US Military under JFK, and the source of much of the information for Oliver Stone’s movie “JFK” and for a series of articles in Freedom Magazine, back when that magazine actually did investigative journalism. If anyone knew the back story of Vietnam, Prouty was the guy.

      In one of his books, he says that at the end of WW2, the left-over armaments were divided into two batches. One half was stockpiled in South Korea and the other in South Vietnam. The implication of course is that both of these “police actions” were planned, years in advance.

      By the way, Donald Sutherland plays the Fletcher Prouty character in the movie.

  27. As a point of reference…Supposedly…The French were in Vietnam from 1953 to 1963 and the Americans from 1963 to Oct 1972. It was brewing back in the 1940’s. French and American forces just didn’t show-up one day.

    • One of my patients told me some years ago that he was in Laos and Cambodia in 1958 as a Special Forces on a Search & Destroy mission. I asked him what he was doing there when the US was not yet in Vietnam. “Stirring up trouble,” he said. Hmmm….

  28. Once last comment Marty…I swear…Reader’s if you wear Nike shoes you can thank the Americans for bringing “free enterprise” to Vietnam. Nike pays the outrageous wage of $100. per month…and the Vietnamese people line-up around the block to get those jobs.

  29. Sounds like a great book – I’ll have to get it. I read your Declaration, and how awesome is that! I started posting here a couple of months after your declaration, so I missed it. I knew a lot of Detroit ex-pats in LA, who you probably knew. The stories of Detroit in the early ’70s make the SO look like a picnic.

  30. Thanks for posting this Marty. As a Canadian I was in Vancouver harboring draft dodgers while the war was waging. Having no real reality on it, I’m looking forward to reading Tom’s account. You guys have all sold me on getting some R finally.

    What’s really fortuitous is that I am going to be auditing a guy who served two tours and really seems to have some battle scars that have never healed. I am expecting the book will help me up my ARC for this gentleman’s plight.

    This is such a great comm line to have.

    Les

  31. Might as well call $cientology Inc. ‘the human wasteland’.

  32. Your humble servant

    No one should be against the military just because it is the military. The military can be absolutely vital to a country’s defense and survival. It is not enough to be a pacifist and just say war is bad and one will have nothing to do with it. Sometimes the military is indispensable for defense. True, war is unspeakably horrible and is insanity. That being the case, the leaders in charge of the military have a special responsibility to not get the military involved in wars where (1) they are fighting on the wrong side or for wrong purposes or (2) where the war is actually unnecessary for the country’s defense and survival.

    In the case of Vietnam, our leaders involved our military in a war that was NOT necessary for our nation’s defense and survival. It was obvious to many that our nation had no need to involve itself in a war in a small country on the other side of the plant. Yet, the powers that be would not see it, and the American public, with a child-like faith in its political leadership, by and large did not object. Arguably, we also fought on the wrong side and for the wrong purposes. Although this latter point is subject to disagreement, It is now very clear that we did NOT have to involve ourselves in it, and it was disastrous that we did. As a result of the war, many billions of dollars were squandered and millions of people died, with millions more maimed, together 7 with much attendant destruction of property, countryside, and wildlife. (The Cambodian tragedy of Pol Pol and his massacres, which killed millions, was also likely an indirect result of the war).

    At the end of the war some of the public blamed the military for the fiasco that was Vietnam. The blame was misplaced. The military fought honorably and well in a war that they should not have been fighting but which was not their choice. They did not elect the war, although the military’s highest leaders did accept it without much protest, and, initially at least, seemed to promote it with enthusiasm. At the end, we broke promises to our friends in South Vietnam who relied upon us. We simply left and, for the greater part, simply left our friends to their fate at the hands of the enemy. The entire costly debacle brought shame and defeat upon our country. Nevertheless, our soldiers, who did not choose the war, should be proud of the heroism with which they did their duty, and we should be proud of them.

  33. I’ve been fortunate — I’ve never lost touch with a dear friend, a Vietnam Vet who currently works full time producing the Veteran’s Day parade in NYC as well as other events honoring service.

    For the past 3 years I’ve worked with him part time and now full time. The combat veterans returning from Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan are suffering greater trauma than their Vietnam brothers. Not sure why but the suicide rate is over one per day – whereas Vietnam Vets returning was one per month. Suicide is very personal to me so I’ve been working to do something to stem this tide.

    A couple of months ago, I participated in a welcoming to 20 Wounded Warriors who were chosen to “see the sites” before participating in a 10K in Central Park —

    They were escorted into town by about 100 Vietnam Vet motorcyclist and police —

    And as they were taken off their big tour bus from Washington DC, I burst into tears.

    As Sandy R. mentioned above — what shocked me to the core was how incredibly young each of these young people looked — returning home missing one or both legs — arms — or a badly scared face and head.

    Almost every city across America has an American Legion – your help as a volunteer would be welcome. You would bring compassion and understanding to young people with trauma … mental and/or physical.

    As an indie you could make such a difference in their lives.

    I’ve believed for a long time that the way to end war isn’t to run from it or its effects – but to help those involved be fully present and not reactive.

    Buddhism and scientology could help with this …

    Love,
    Christine

  34. miscavigeisscaredofsam

    Thanks for the recommendation Marty. I’ll add it to my ever expanding must read list.

  35. Thanks for posting the review Marty. I just ordered Tom’s book. And thanks Tom for all that you did. I look forward to reading your book.

  36. Great book Tom. I am mid the read and see the effects that war had on our lives. Vietnam was pivotal to my life too, though I never went having missed by less than a month my deployment due to the ending of the damn thing. It also had a lot to do with my seeing the wisdom of Ron’s words re: the Aims of SCN. I am compelled to read and find out what is next. Damn, that war sure prepared you to handle what you must have encountered working near DM.
    Hope you enjoyed that beer I gave you as I left the indie party. Wish we could have visited longer. You are a very amazing individual and one I’d want by my side if ever I was walking into battle.

  37. I just ordered your book Tom, really looking forward to reading it. It will actually be the first book about Vietnam I read.

    My brother-in-law was stationed at Cam Ranh Bay for a couple of years. He was a burser. He never saw direct combat, but still has some vivid inside stories to tell. He was in awe of the South Korean squad that was there and essentially guarded the base. In the event of any enemy activity in the area, they went out at night and when they returned, there would be some heads on pikes at the bridge which was the gateway to the base. He says this was the most disciplined bunch of men he’s ever seen, practicing martial arts daily and always deferential and polite to all Americans, who had saved South Korea from being overrun by KIm Il-sung’s forces in the 1950s.

    Somehow he came away from Vietnam with a life-long, unusual, progressive and severe arthritic condition which has never been solved. I’ve wondered if it is due to something that was in the environment there.

    • Valkov – there is an excellent assist for arthritus in the assist pack. I used it on a guy who had it and had it bad. He blew it right out of the water. If you don’t have accesss to the pack let me know and I’ll send the assist.

      The ROKs (Royal Order of Korean) troops were over the top. I think Navy Seals learned from them.

      ML Tom

  38. Tom, I am intrigued with your book and am planning on reading. You mentioned the “demons” you had to fight when coming back. I am very interested in that perspective. I was drafted in 1970 but was 4f’d. My brother was stationed in Saigon at that time. Although he didn’t see combat, outside of the Tet offensive, he came home “whole” but with some real issues and traveled with him for years. He was a great big brother, very talented p -built a three wheel chopper from scratch. He offed himself many years later, (actually in a drunken stuper and just lost it) but I knew part of his issues were not just his being thrust into a very threatening environment but that he was not welcomed back as a trouper but as a “soldier of forturne” regardless of his being drafted as a teenager and didn’t want to go there to begin with.
    I was a few years younger and was very active in the protest movement and wanted my big brother to come back alive. He did, but like you said he wasn’t the same. I found Scientology in the early 70’s and trained to Class 5 but, although I tried, was not able to get him in session. I will order your book tomorrow and would like to thank you for your service along with my brother.

  39. Thanks for the great review. I bought the book recently, but haven’t been “up to” reading it. Looking forward to it now though.

  40. Thanks for the heads up regarding this book. I just came back from amazon.com where I ordered Tom’s book and Marty’s at the same time! I’ve been following this site for a few months now and I must say it is very interesting. I support the indy scientology movement and am interested in true scientology. Take care. Can’t wait to read them both!

  41. Someone just quoted from this 1964 Playboy interview with Ayn Rand and I thought it so perfectly described the inversion of the dynamics within the Sea Org after LRH’s death.

    http://ellensplace.net/ar_pboy.html

    PLAYBOY: According to your philosophy, work and achievement are the highest goals of life. Do you regard as immoral those who find greater fulfillment in the warmth of friendship and family ties?

    RAND: If they place such things as friendship and family ties above their own productive work, yes, then they are immoral. Friendship, family life and human relationships are not primary in a man’s life. A man who places others first, above his own creative work, is an emotional parasite; whereas, if he places his work first, there is no conflict between his work and his enjoyment of human relationships.

  42. Tom,

    A good friend of mine (Joe) was in Vietnam. Most of his buddies didn’t make it back. He was recon and not supposed to engage but gather intel and report back. That didn’t always work out.

    His story was horrifying and hair raising. They walked into the beginnings of a large VC offensive. They put up a fierce fight but were so outnumbered it was an impossible scene. Support eventually showed up and started dealing with it.

    He was so shot up they told him he wasn’t going to make it and were amazed he was still conscious and talking. He told them to take his wounded buddies first since he wasn’t going to make it anyway. Eventually he passed out and they put him with the dead.

    When they began transporting the dead someone noticed he was still alive.

    I have known him for years and never knew his story until one evening he opened up and told it to me. Why he decided to tell me then I don’t know, maybe it was too many beers. He told me in detail about the battle, the fighting and the killing. He doesn’t know why he survived and after hearing the story I don’t either. He told me how it changed him and how he had been different before the war.

    I know he is traumatized by all of that and his wife was amazed he told me about it. She says he never speaks of it.

    Tom, when I saw your book and read the intro I bought 2. One is going to Joe. I haven’t read it yet but I know it will help him and I will be there if he asks.

    Thanks for this.

  43. In response to some comments:

    The entire Vietnam war wasn’t a waste but it was won in 1965. After WW2, Ho Chin Minh had drafted a constitution similar to the US version. The French would not leave and were kicked out in 1954. Vietnam wanted self-sufficiency without colonial rule. They knew prosperity was not possible with a constant debt to the World Bank. On a small scale similar to paying for an ideal org, giving it away and then paying rent on it. (John Perkins)

    Anyway, Kissinger called this self-development a virus that could spread throughout Asia (domino effect). Japan would once again become the dominant power. We could not allow this to happen. This would mean we lost WW2. If allowed to develop separate from our control (French-UK-US, all world bank), these countries would work under our financial purview. Japan would emerge the dominant power in the region out of our control. (Noam Chomsky)

    So by 1965 South Vietnam was destroyed. Bombed into the stone age. By that time we had moved a million North Vietnamese to the South, moved current residents who were there for thousands of years into controlled villages (they became the Viet Cong). The French who functioned as cops were gone creating chaos. We destroyed the network of Chinese who provided the trade routes. This infrastructure was destroyed on purpose. (Fletcher Prouty)

    The big prize was Indonesia, which was rich in oil. This includes Singapore and the rest of region. In 1965 the US placed the brutal dictator Sukarno into power in Indonesia. Later, we placed a puppet government in Cambodia. It was destroyed by the Kymer Rouge and the NVA financed from China. Eventually genocide occurred. No independence here. Burma followed. Problem solved. Laos posed no threat. (Wiki)

    Mission accomplished by 1965. The rest was a waste. Japan became the main manufacturing hub of Asia under our control. We won.

  44. What a great review of Tom’s book. Thanks for writing about it. I’ve just ordered mine.
    Fortunately our families only real “involvement” with this war was to all get ourselves either a POW or MIA bracelets and each keep an eye out for the person for their return home — by reading the lists in the newspapers every day. My bracelet was for Capt Guy Gruders — whom I will never forget.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s