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To many Americans, the Vietnam War was simply a misdirected conflict between the United States and the communist forces in Southeast Asia. Technology allowed Vietnam to become America's first "TV war," and the images beamed across the nation further warped our understanding of the hostilities half a world away.
But, before there was any major build-up of American forces, before the war became a proving ground for various weapons systems, before the prime-time coverage and the public outcry, there were infantry advisors. Although their role was quickly eclipsed by the larger, all U.S.operations, their efforts continued throughout the war.
First sent by President Eisenhower in the late fifties, the advisors were America's initial Vietnam ante. Their mission: train the South Vietnamese in self-defense, weapons systems, and tactics and accompany them on combat operations against the communists to provide tactical guidance. Once contact with the enemy was established, advisors provided the primary communications link to coordinate air strikes, artillery fire missions, and medical evacuations.
In an attempt to make "No Survivors" as reader-friendly as possible, a glossary of common terms has been included in the back of the book.
Every aspect of the Vietnam War deserves special attention. "No Survivors" may help those who weren't in Vietnam - and those who were - better understand a relatively little-known corner of the conflict--the role of the advisor.
"No Survivors" is a fact-based novel which contains graphic descriptions of violent acts and language that may be considered offensive. Neither the brutality nor the obscenity are gratuitous additions.
Virtually all of the events depicted here, happened. The descriptions are my best recollections of the days and nights they took place. The American and South Vietnamese characters that follow have been described as I remember them, not created. Their names have been changed to protect their privacy and the privacy of their families. Hopefully they will impress you as they did me. Like them or not . . .they were real people.
"No Survivors" started as a cathartic act to help purge those memories I found impossible to share any other way. It has since become my attempt at a literary monument to my comrades-in-arms whose names appear on a piece of black stone in Washington.
More importantly, many men and women, who came home alive, will always have pieces of their hearts and minds held hostage by recollections of the faces, the faceless, the cruelty, and the chaos created by combat. This is dedicated to them.
April 30, 1995
A good friend of mine, Bill Gunzelman (Gunz), has done a lithograph print of The Wall in which a man is standing in front of The Wall saluting and several ghost-like images in The Wall are returning his salute. There are two women in the print to reflect the critical role women played in Vietnam. Bill has graciously allowed Marshall Jones Co.to use a portion of his print as the "No Survivors'" dust jacket. Gunz's print took my breath away when I first saw it.