Vietnam Memoirs: A Passage to Sorrow

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Naval Institute Press, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 136 pages
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Vietnam Memoirs: A Passage to Sorrow is the record of a military chaplain's experiences while sharing the hardships and dangers that made up the daily routine of a combat soldier. Eyewitness accounts are given of search and destroy missions; night ambushes, helicopter assaults, a multi-hour fire fight during the first Tet Offensive. Described also is the anxiety experienced from an approaching enemy attack; his visits to the surgical wards of field hospitals, and the memorial services of those killed in action. The author is not satisfied with describing events; he attempts to capture the emotions of war; the highs and lows, the anxiety, the loneliness, the monotony, and the camaraderie.
A presence in this book is the climate and the terrain of Vietnam and its effect on mind and body. Here are the heat, and grime, the rains and mud, the dust and the odors of war.
Chaplain Falabella served several widely scattered battalions. Reaching the troops in the field was an adventure in itself requiring persistence, stamina, and diplomacy. On occasions, the chaplain reached his men only to discover that it was impossible to hold service; he went then with the men on their mission instead.
Running through chaplain Falabella's narrative are his observations on the conduct of the war. Often, the combat soldier seemed to be the forgotten man amid the turmoil of the Vietnam era, with the infantryman's superiors, civilian and military, at times being a frustrating hindrance rather than an effective ally.
Chaplain Falabella neither condemns nor approves the Vietnam War era. Instead, Vietnam Memoirs: A Passage to Sorrow is a book about what it meant to be an American soldier in an alien land thousands of miles from home.

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About the author (2010)

J. Robert Falabella is a Roman Catholic priest in residence at Saint Mary Magdalene in Simpsonville, SC. He joined the U.S. Army in 1966 and served with the 3rd Corps, 25th Infantry Division in Cui Chi, Vietnam, from 1967 through 1968, earning Silver and Bronze Stars.

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