Vets front: Fritz Bultemeyer (Army), Randy Harnish (Army), Jose Huerta (Navy), Rod Maller (Army), me.
Back: John Senac, Jr. (Army), Dennis Covert (Navy), Lanny Idle (Air Force), Mike Dean (Army), John Reusser– Vietnam War-era vet/ husband of author (Air Force).
This past weekend we celebrated the second book launch for my latest book, Voices From Vietnam: Stories of War.
If you’ve never attended this type of event, you may not understand its purpose. It is to introduce the public to a book on a personal level. Readers can meet the author and hear about the book’s contents and how it came together.
In this case they can also meet the people involved with the book –military vets who served during the Vietnam War.
The goal is to get people talking about the book and sharing that info with others.
The first book launch was held in my hometown of Bluffton, Indiana in October. Nine vets attended it and greeted the public.
This past Saturday, we held the second book launch in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Vets from the book live in each location with most of the 18 from the book living around Fort Wayne.
The eight vets from the book who attended enjoyed getting to know each other and listening to each other’s stories in between signing copies of the book for the public.
We had a steady crowd during the two-hour event which was held at the main branch of the Allen County Public Library.
People of all ages, including family members and the public, stopped by to chat with the vets and have them sign copies of the books.
I’m so grateful for this group of men – a total of 2.7 million — who served our country at a time when many Americans didn’t support their efforts in the war.
I don’t understand why Americans turned against them when they were drafted and forced to answer their country’s call for help – although to be fair, some young men enlisted voluntarily.
Instead of running to Canada to evade the draft, they stayed to help.
John Senac, Jr. displayed his type of service in Vietnam, that of a scout dog handler.
I’m equally glad they were willing to talk about their stories, some of which were difficult to hear:
Mike Dean, a Huey crew chief, was shot twice in his helicopter during a mission and had to receive serious medical care;
Harold Stanford struggled to fly his damaged Huey away from the enemy while his flight crew lay inert from injuries;
Arley Higginbotham and Fritz Bultemeyer faced the enemy during the Tet Offensive, both men wondering if that day would be their last.
There is also a story of a scout dog handler, a unit that recued an abandoned child, and statements of what it was like for the men to come home to a troubled nation.
‘Voices From Vietnam: Stories of War’ is available on Amazon, as are all of my other military books.
It was an honor to put their stories to paper.
Please show your respect to these vets by reading their stories and learning about their service.
Welcome them home to a country that should have done better by them 50 years ago.
A final thanks to librarian Anna Kallemeyn who helped arrange the room and provided snacks and a guiding hand with details. She had help from fellow librarian Megan Bell.
Thanks to all who attended or helped make the event a success!