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Book details
  • Genre:HISTORY
  • SubGenre:Military / Vietnam War
  • Language:English
  • Pages:374
  • Format:Paperback
  • eBook ISBN:9781543928136
  • Paperback ISBN:9781543928129

The Luckiest Guy in Vietnam

by James A. Lockhart

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This book describes two unique tours of duty in Vietnam by a U.S. Army officer. In the first, after two assignments in Infantry platoons, he is given command of a rifle company while still a lieutenant.  The daily life of infantrymen, with all of its quirks and surprises, is recounted as he lived it. He returns for a second tour as a Special Forces-trained captain to participate in a secret mission.  This program has received little attention and some previously unpublished events are revealed here.  Most readers should find the actions recounted herein differ from the widely held concepts based on news coverage or even personal experience in the war.

Vietnam 1968: See what’s inside the mind of a new lieutenant as he leads two diverse infantry platoons and then commands a rifle company in the field. Walk in the rice paddies and jungles, outsmart the bad guys and, above all, keep the troops alive. Move past the mistakes and twists of fate in the company of everyday Americans who became exemplary infantrymen in the best traditions of their country. Here we find that most popular assumptions about the war do not apply to these men as they fought in Vietnam, even during this deadliest year. Their ability to perform at a higher level than their enemy belies granting any advantage to indigenous foes. These American infantrymen quickly adapted to the harshness of a hostile tropical environment and neutralized it as a factor favoring the enemy. This account of determined men overcoming the ever-changing challenges of war captures the essence of the American fighting man’s resourcefulness. From the day-to-day grind to the flashes of gunfire, they operate with careful success, accomplishing their mission while protecting their own. Fast forward 18 months and the same lieutenant returns to Vietnam but now as a combat-tested, Special Forces-trained captain assigned to a secret mission. As a key staff officer in the new training program for the Cambodian Army, he recognizes fundamental problems and crafts lasting solutions. The quirks and flukes of training third-country nationals in Vietnam are no less challenging than those in his first tour of duty. Language and cultural differences compound the difficulty of conducting training in a combat zone but no slack or extra points are given. The enemy, while less active in this new area, is still an imminent danger to both trainer and trainee. Unusual, even bizarre, problems arise and must be dealt with despite the lack of relevant standard operating procedures, applicable training, related examples or meaningful experience. These situations, some previously unpublished, require creativity, soul searching and sometimes panache to be successfully resolved. This book relates events in Vietnam as experienced by the author. They are described as he witnessed and remembers them. After presenting the details of each tour of duty, he offers comments and analyses separately from the narrative so as not to slow its pace or interrupt its flow.
About the author
James Lockhart, born and raised in northwest Ohio, worked during summers as a Wabash Railroad telegrapher while in college. He enlisted in the Army in 1961 and was quickly promoted to sergeant. Deciding on a military career, he volunteered for officer training and became an Infantry second lieutenant in July 1967. From March 1968 to February 1969 in Vietnam, he led mortar and reconnaissance platoons and commanded an Infantry company, all as a lieutenant. After completing airborne and Special Forces training he returned to Vietnam in late 1970. In the next 18 months, as an operations officer, he made significant contributions to the training of Cambodian Infantry battalions by Special Forces personnel. Subsequently, he served as an A-Team Leader, staff officer and company commander as well as Reserve Component advisor in Special Forces units before retiring as a major in 1982. His awards include the Bronze Star Medal with V and two oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal, Master Parachutist Badge, Combat Infantryman Badge, SCUBA Badge, Vietnamese Staff Service Medal and Cambodian National Defense Medal, the last two from now bygone republics. After retirement he worked for AT&T as a Technical Consultant and Account Executive. His last employment was 17 years with DeVry University as Associate Dean and Professor. He holds a bachelors degree in psychology and a masters degree in management. James lives in southern California with Suzanne, his wife of over 35 years.
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