This past weekend we celebrated my 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. The goal 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.
Hopefully, people will continue to talk about the book and share that info with others for days (or weeks) afterward.
Army vet Mike Blough talks to a young reader about his service in Vietnam.
The first book launch was held in my hometown of Bluffton, Indiana in October. Nine vets attended it and greeted the public.
Jose Huerta (Navy corpsman) chats with interested readers about his time of service aboard a ship.
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.
Army vet Randy Harnish talks with the public about his service in Vietnam.
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.
Air Force vet Lanny Idle’s family joined him at the book launch.
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 – keep in mind, some young men enlisted voluntarily.
Instead of running to Canada to evade the draft, they stayed to help.
I’m glad they were willing to talk about their stories, some of which were difficult to hear:
Army vet John Senac served as a scout dog handler.
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 on this earth.
It was an honor to put their stories to paper.
Army medic Rod Maller tells about his service while Air Force vet Lanny Idle looks on.
There is also a story of a scout dog handler (see above), a unit that recued an abandoned child, and statements of what it was like for the men to come home to a troubled nation.
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 (left) who helped arrange the room and provided snacks and a guiding hand with details. She had help from fellow librarian Megan Bell.
Thanks to them and other members of the library staff who helped make the event a success!
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