Six Silent Men - Book II
15 September 2005
Kenn Miller is to the military book genre what Oscar de La Hoya is to boxing. He's a seasoned fighter who can go the distance with the kind of style and flair that often leaves his competitors begrudgingly admiring his ability. Six Silent Men - Book Two comes at you straight and fast with enough quick jabs and interesting combinations to let you know you've been in a fight between chapters.
With his latest release Miller picks up where Rey Martinez left off in this trilogy effort by three former LRRP / Rangers; Rey Martinez, Kenn Miller and Gary Linderer covering the summer of 1967 to the 1st Brigade LRRP's transition in to F Company, 58th Infantry LRPs and later when they were redesignated as L Company, 75th Rangers.
In Book Two Miller follows the Screaming Eagle Lurps from Bien Hoa to Song Be and up north to the infamous Ashau Valley. Along the way he introduces us to soldiers like Nick Caberra, a former Marine who had fought in World War II and Korea before joining the Army to fight in this latest war, this time as a 101st Lurp. Caberra, an on-again off-again PFC, is an old war horse who's hard to rein in but is always ready for the next mission, even if it's against the Division Commander himself who managed to piss off Caberra and the Brigade Lurps!
While some authors seem to gloss over or sugar coat the Vietnam process Miller doesn't dance around the issue but instead shows the many ground level wars and realities the 101st Lurp / Rangers had to face. Those who believe that every friendly soldier is always bold, faithful and true may not like Miller's point of view, but anyone who has “been there” will know that his words ring true, even if they are painful.
And speaking of painful, on a mission just out of Camp Eagle Miller describes a patrol's encounter with a water buffalo that wreaks havoc on the team and more specifically the team's medic, Doug 'Doc' Norton, who finds himself impaled and …well, let's just say that after reading the account you'll likely have a new perspective of your next barbecue beef or tasty cheeseburger. If it doesn't make you cringe in horror you'll at least want to go to your neighbourhood market and beat the hell out of a rib roast or two, just out of spite!
As the story and the unit progresses we're introduced to others like Riley 'Bulldozer' Cox who redefines heroism when his team is surrounded by an overwhelming NVA force then mowed down a 40 pound Chicom claymore mine. The handful of survivors have to scramble to stay alive as the enemy tries to overrun their fragile position.
Cox, who is seriously injured by the initial blast, springs back on line. Jamming a towel in to the gaping wound in his stomach to prevent his intestines from falling out and taping back the dangling right arm so that it won't get in his way, the burly Lurp uses his one good hand to methodically load, fire, then reload his CAR-15 and Ithica pump shotgun. His supreme effort helps to keep the enemy at bay until a reaction force arrives hours later. Throughout the desperate struggle the Arizona native painfully keeps up a heavy volume of fire to help convince the enemy that the trapped patrol is still able to defend itself.
At one point in the action he kills five or six NVA soldiers and drives back others who had charged out of the jungle to finish off a fallen comrade. The enemy assault failed and the NVA fell back primarily because of his tenacity and courage. Cox performs this same feat not once, nor twice, but time after time in an heroic display of braver that Hollywood would love to depict on the big screen for one of its own make believe heroes.
When a medevac helicopter finally arrives hours later, Cox refuses to be lifted out until he is certain that are enough reinforcements on the ground to secure the team's position and protect the remaining wounded.
Only later do we discover that Cox isn't expected to survive, that his wounds are far more grievous than he lets on. Medevacked back to the States where he undergoes numerous operations, 'Bulldozer' Cox survives and after a lengthy recovery returns to Vietnam a year later to rejoin the company. Sadly, we also learn from Miller's book that Cox's heroic actions are rightly nominated for a Distinguished Service Cross, but even though they are well documented and witnessed by many the award is downgraded to a Silver Star.
If there is any justice it comes from Miller's account of this action, which the readers and the mission's survivors share alike.
Finally, in Six Silent Men – Book Two
Miller takes his parting shot at the modern Army's brass with a “Lesson's Learned” segment in his book that points fingers and scores a knockout punch and shows that Miller is an extra heavy hitter when it comes to LRRP / LRP / Ranger strategy.
Knowing Kenn Miller personally, I'm certain he'll say that this book is not his best work, but what the scrappy two and a half year combat LRP / Ranger veteran doesn't seem to understand or accept is that his “less than best work” most always far exceeds anything else on the market. Six Silent Men – Book Two
is well worth the read and even more worth noting. Miller is still the champ!
Buy Six Silent Men - Book II
Read the review of Six Silent Men - Book I
This article was originally published in Behind The Lines magazine. VietnamGear.com has reproduced this article with the kind permission of Gary Linderer.
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