Six Silent Men - Book III
22 September 2005
Book Three in the Six Silent Men series by authors Rey Martinez, Kenn Miller and Gary Linderer, is the final and fitting chapter to the legacy of the 101st Lurp / Rangers during the Vietnam War. It is a riveting tribute to some remarkable men who deserve their 15 minutes of fame in the spotlight and thanks to Linderer this latest spotlight will allow them to bask for a little longer.
Like its predecessor, Book Three takes an in-depth look at a specific time frame in the Company's existence, in this instance from February 1969 when F Company, 58th Inf. (LRP) was re-designated as L Company, 75th Infantry (Ranger) until December 1971 when the unit stood down and all personnel had been transferred to new duty assignments.
Book Three is a collection of stories that take you in to the closing days of the deadly cat and mouse, behind the lines missions with the Screaming Eagle Lurp / Rangers.
This book is an absorbing, fast paced read; one that you can take a story at a time over a good cup of coffee, but it'll be more than the caffeine that'll jump start your adrenaline. These are heart pumping, always dangerous, behind the lines war stories and because it is a collection of Lurp stories where the odds are never in the favour, you get right in to the thick of things quickly, not just patrolling along with the Lurp / Ranger but right there in the very moments when Ranger history and costly lessons learned were blood, sweat and tears of brave men.
Thanks to Linderer's discerning eye the personalities shine through along with the stories. He has done a creditable job of making the people and times come to life again, if only for their sometimes final and dramatic missions.
From four man wire tap missions to 60 man company raids to Sergeant Herman Brown's DSC winning heroism to Sergeant Kenn Miller's agonizing mission over the loss of one of his team mates deep within enemy held territory, Book Three
will push your pulse rate up and leave you amazed at the calibre of the people who served as Lurp / Ranger spirit.
Linderer doesn't gloss over the people of the stories either, no “we were all brave and true…yada-yada” revision of events, but instead offers a straight forward account of the Rangers and the missions, flaws and all.
For example, there's the nine man mission in to the A Shau where the ill fated patrol is ambushed and two Rangers are killed outright and five others are wounded. The team manges to survive thanks to the efforts of the wounded patrol leader, Lieutenant David Grange who calls in artillery support to keep the NVA at bay, and Sergeant Ken Wells who takes charge of the treatment of the wounded and their subsequent extraction. Finally, after the team is pulled out of the valley floor and the rescue helicopter cannot support the weight of the oversized team, the two unwounded survivors are dropped off along a road near a U.S. fire support base. The pilot, however, had not bothered to find out if the firebase was still in operation – it wasn't. The two Rangers – with the rest of the team's gear but without radios – are abandoned in the middle of Indian country believing that another helicopter is on the way to ferry them out. It didn't show up, but to learn the fate of the two Rangers you'll have to buy the book and read the story.
Linderer's writing style is reader friendly, which just means that he's not trying to bore the hell out of you with the dry, historical “Just the facts, Ma'am,” Dragnet approach that so many books on the Vietnam war seem to take. Maybe it's just my bias but the trouble with military history is that it is usually written by people who are good at listing names, dates and strategies but who cannot for the life of them adequately describe the pain, laughter, joy, fear or sorrow that each and every combatant experiences in war. History is about people and how they shape the times and situations they take part in and Linderer constantly reminds us of this.
The Festus, Missouri writer can tell a good story, and in this case he tells you 40 of them. And like the best writers he makes them come alive in your hands. That's the magic of a good book. It can transcend your surrounds in to the environment it creates and offer you that rare glimpse of a time ago long lost.
In the Six Silent Men
series, Martinez, Miller and Linderer have done a remarkable job chronicling the 101st Airborne Division's Lurp / Rangers during their illustrious six years in Vietnam. The three books are rich in what I can only describe as 'personal history'; the kind which decades from now will put those who are researching the war right smack dab in to the hearts and minds of the men who performed one of the most dangerous jobs in jungle combat.
Buy the book and then buy the series. You won't be disappointed.
Buy Six Silent Men - Book III
Read the reviews of Six Silent Men - Book I
and Six Silent Men - Book II
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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