I was discharged from Army active duty on Christmas eve, 1970, and I enrolled for winter term at Dartmouth College less than two weeks later. I had spent 2+ years at Dartmouth before the military, so when I returned as a junior, I already had a circle of friends.
I also had Super 8 movies from Vietnam. I had purchased a Super 8 camera from the An Khe PX and shot about ten films (3+ minutes each) and sent them home without developing. By the time I was back at Dartmouth, the films had been developed and spliced together to form one movie of about 30 minutes. In those days, “cut and paste” was literally how you edited film.
One Saturday evening while hanging out at my favorite fraternity, I mentioned the movie, and we decided to watch it in a private room upstairs from where the party was going on, across from the bathroom. As the curious poked their heads in, we ended up watching the movie three times that night as word spread and more and more folks came to see. This college crowd was genuinely anxious to know more. The movie and my stories kept the swelling crowd spellbound, and at the end someone said, “You ought to write a book”.
Skip ahead forty years. I am finally taking that advice. I have started to write stories based upon my Vietnam experiences, stories that are based on fact but which are embellished to make for good reading. A year ago, I published a novel (A Wretched Man, a novel of Paul the apostle), and through that experience, I hope I have developed some of the storyteller’s craft (scene & setting, plot, character development, tension, etc.), and I have applied the techniques of storytelling to my Vietnam stories. Thus, I call them “autobiographical fiction”.
These stories will be published as eBook short stories, one at a time in serial form. The first one (Here Comes Charlie) has been published as I write this, and the second (Eleven Bravo) will be published early next week. Since most of the stories relate to my role as a “LRRP” (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol), the series will be entitled LRRP Rangers Vietnam. A “lurp” was the Vietnam equivalent of a cavalry scout; instead of mustangs, we rode helicopters to remote and unfriendly territory.
The eBooks will be available in all formats at your favorite online eBook bookstore. The movie was transferred to video tape years ago through the cumbersome process of using a video camera to record the movie from a screen. Later, the videotape was converted to a DVD and now has been converted to online video formats and may be viewed on YouTube and here.