SEAL Warrior: Death in the Dark---Vietnam 1968--1972 by Thomas H. Keith
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This has been sitting in a stack of books my dad gave me quite a while ago and I'm only now getting to it.
This is a memoir of Thomas H. Keith, former Navy SEAL, who fought in Vietnam from 1968 to 1972, which overlaps when my dad was over there serving in the Special Forces. I'm pretty sure they never met, but knowing that the time frame was the same, I thought this would be a good way to read about what it was like over there when my dad was.
Keith's unit was a guerilla fighting group - you find out where the enemy is, hopefully, and you hit them hard and fast and get out without them catching you. They examined bodies for any documents or photos or maps that could tell them where enemy VIPs might be operating so they could go execute the next mission.
The problem I usually have with military memoirs or histories is the acronyms. The military is riddled with them and trying to keep track of what all those acronyms mean get bring on acute headaches. Every professional field has acronyms. Acronyms are handy for shortening frequently used phrases and terms. It's a problem when a non professional is dumped into an acronym sea and has to try to sink or swim in them. Fortunately, enough of the acronyms were sufficiently explained that after a while I could guess, "oh, that one is a gun and that one is a boat".
Navy men are known for their salty language, and there was no lack of that here. They are also rumored to have "a lady in every port" and that certainly seemed to be the case with Keith. He spared us the details mostly, but leaves no room for doubt that chastity wasn't anywhere on his priority list. I can respect the guy for what he did in service to his country, I just wish he could have been more "clean" in his relationships.
The accounts of the missions he was on were interesting. He has a knack for storytelling that made the routine seem exciting. That's what kept me reading. His training was almost more grueling and harrowing than the missions themselves, but I guess you would say that his training was adequate to preparing him for what he needed to do later. I'm amazed at how much these guys could take, even wounded, and still manage to keep fighting. Tough guys indeed. It's no wonder SEALs were sent to go get Osama bin Laden.
Parents would probably prefer not to have their teens read this one, just for the language and promiscuity involved.
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