Days of Valor: An Inside Account of the Bloodiest Six Months of the Vietnam War

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Casemate, 2007 - History - 288 pages
4 Reviews
A nonstop maelstrom of combat action, leaving the reader nearly breathless by the end. The human courage and carnage described in these pages resonates through the centuries, from Borodino to the Bulge, but the focus here is on the Vietnam War, and a unique unit formed to take part at its height.

The 199th Light Infantry Brigade was created from three U.S. infantry battalions of long lineage, as a fast reaction force for the U.S. to place in Indochina. As the book begins, in December 1967, the brigade has been in Vietnam for a year, and many of its battered 12-month men are returning home. This is timely, as the Communists seem to be in a lull, and the brigade commander, in order to whet his new soldiers to combat, requests a transfer to a more active sector, just above Saigon. Through January the battalions scour the sector, finding increasing enemy strength, NVA personel now mixed within Viet Cong units. But the enemy is lying low, and a truce has even been declared for the Vietnamese New Year, the holiday called Tet.

On January 30, 1968, the storm breaks loose, as Saigon and nearly every provincial capital in the country is overrun by VC and NVA, bursting in unexpected strength from their base camps. In these battles we learn the most intimate details of combat, as the Communists fight with rockets, mortars, Chinese claymores, mines, machine guns and AK-47s. The battles evolve into an enemy favoring the cloak of night, the jungle-both urban and natural-and subterranean fortifications, against U.S. forces favoring direct confrontational battle supported by air and artillery. When the lines are only 25 yards apart, however, there is little way to distinguish between thefirepower or courage of the assailants and the defenders, or even who is who at any given moment, as both sides have the other in direct sight. Many of the vividly described figures in this book do not make it to the end. The narrative is jarring, because even though the author was a company commander during these battles, he has based this work upon objective research including countless interviews with other soldiers of the 199th LIB. The result is that everything we once heard about Vietnam is laid bare in this book through actual experience, as U.S. troops go head-to-head at close-range against their counterparts, perhaps the most stubborn foe in our history.

Days of Valor covers the height of the Vietnam War, from the nervous period just before Tet, through the defeat of that offensive, to the highly underwritten yet equally bloody NVA counteroffensive launched in May 1968.

The book ends with a brief note about the 199th LIB being deactivated in spring 1970, furling its colors after suffering 753 dead and some 5,000 wounded. The brigade had only been a temporary creation, designed for one purpose. Though its heroism is now a matter of history, it should remain a source of pride for all Americans. This fascinating book will help to remind us.

REVIEWS

.,." Tonsetic's account is a panegyric to the soldiers he served with rather than an attempt at a general history...the work is primarily about his own experiences and those of the people around him, collected from the personal recollections of participants and contemporary after-action reports. ..of interest to subject collections."Library Journal,02/2007

.,."Tonsetic, who commanded an infantry company, relies heavilyfirst person infantrymen to paint a picture of almost non-stop combat action..." Vietnam Veterans of America 04/2007

.,." this book has no other purpose other than to disclose the valor and sacrifice of those who fought during this period. ... This book took me by surprise. I had begun the task to review a log of war, to gain new admiration of valor and courage. In the end, not only had I gained a renewed appreciation of courage and valor, but more importantly I had to come face to face with the enormity of loss and grief that is forever imposed on our soldiers. This book is a path to share that cost." Reviewed by: Edward Fennell

.,."will resonate with veterans, especially grunts who served anywhere in Vietnam....offers historical insights for today...a worthy memorial."Vietnam Magazine 12/2007

.,." a spell binding account of the 199th Light Infantry Brigade's actions surrounding the Tet Offensive... an excellent memorial to the exploits of this fighting unit." Collected Miscellany, 06/2008

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Review: DAYS OF VALOR: An Inside Account of the Bloodiest Six Months of the Vietnam War

User Review  - Dave Moore - Goodreads

Gave up after slogging through Chapter 2, then fast-skimming to see if anything really developed. If it would be at all appropriate to describe a writing style as 'monotone', this is it. I've read ... Read full review

Review: DAYS OF VALOR: An Inside Account of the Bloodiest Six Months of the Vietnam War

User Review  - Lynndell Watson - Goodreads

This is a detailed Vietnam history book. The author respects and honors each person in the battles, which is good, but it distracts from the story because of how it lacks transition. The author is ... Read full review

Contents

Prologue
1
What Came Before
5
Across the Song Dong Nai
17
Copyright

18 other sections not shown

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About the author (2007)

Robert Tonsetic was born in Pennsylvania. He was commissioned as an infantry lieutenant out of the University of Pittsburgh in 1964. After a one-year tour with Special Forces in Thailand, he joined the 199th Light Infantry Brigade in Vietnam. Assigned to Charlie Company, 4th Battalion, 12th Infantry, he served as company commander for six months during the Tet and May Offensives of 1968. He returned to Vietnam in 1970 and served as a senior advisor to Vietnamese Ranger and Airborne units. He retired from the army in 1991 with the rank of Colonel after twenty-seven years of service. After leaving the army, he earned a doctorate in education and taught for five years as an adjunct professor at the University of Central Florida. He lives with his wife Polly on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Warriors" "is his first book.

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