The late Art Marin, a squad leader in Vietnam, snapped the 1969 photo of Second Platoon, Charlie Company that I used in my first blog post (scroll to the bottom of this page). Grady Myers, aka Hoss, is the red-headed dude, fourth from the left in the back row.
After the war, Art became a teacher and remained friends with fellow soldier Bob Robbins, who also served in Second Platoon. Bob was very kind and helpful when I told him in 2011 that I planned to publish Grady's memoir.
In the 2004 picture above, Bob is at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. The plaque that he's leaving there features Art's Second Platoon photo. Bob says of the photo:. "Art brought me a copy of it many years ago and we tried to look at each face. We decided the over 1/2 of these soldiers had been wounded or killed during their tour. This was a group of men seasoned in combat."
The picture, he added, contains "more memories then we can understand."
Steve Orr in a TV interview about Vietnam
The Vietnam War was a different experience for every soldier, sailor and pilot who fought in it. The chance to share more than one man's story is part of the pleasure in having a veteran participate in my public readings of "Boocoo Dinky Dow: My short, crazy Vietnam War."
Case in point: Steve Orr, who will read a passage from the book at this Saturday's reading in Clarkston, Washington (see the events page for details).
Steve was at the same bookstore, And BOOKS, Too!, in 2008 for an event focused on "A Patch of Ground: Khe Sanh Remembered." Written by his friend Michael Archer, it recounts Steve and Michael's experience in Vietnam, which was even more intense than Grady's. They fought in the Battle of Khe Sanh, in which 6,000 U.S. Marines were surrounded by 40,000 North Vietnamese, under continuous fire for 77 days.
Steve is the police chief in Lewiston, Idaho. My first "guest veterans" was my former journalism colleague Dan Webster, a Navy veteran who read in Spokane at Auntie's Bookstore. Dan, a movie critic, said his experience in Vietnam was more like "Apocolypse Now" and Grady's was more like "Platoon." D'Wayne Hodgins, a retired University of Idaho writer and instructor, read with me at Book People of Moscow. Like Grady, he served in the Army. D'Wayne poured emotion into his presentation, clearly still feeling his personal losses from the war.
I couldn't be more grateful and moved by the willingness of these men to share their own stories and join me in honoring Grady's.
Julie Titone is co-author of the Grady Myers memoir "Boocoo Dinky Dow: My short, crazy Vietnam War." Grady was an M-60 machine gunner in The U.S. Army's Company C’s 2nd Platoon, 1st Battalion, 8th Regiment, 4th Infantry Division in late 1968 and early 1969. His Charlie Company comrades knew him as Hoss. Thoughts, comments? Send Julie an email.