A grim situation? Yes, but soldiers throughout the centuries have been expected to perform under such conditions.
- What would you do if your military unit was sent somewhere to do a job that had to be performed at the risk of serious injury or even death to you or to those who work with you?
- At what if this mission had to be accomplished under some pretty harsh environmental conditions, such as in the rain, at night, in the mud, and with insects swarming around your face?
- And what if, in addition to these factors, this job had to be performed even if you were both physically and mentally exhausted?
Do you count your blessings, and happily do what you are told, or do you press forward to earn the respect you deserve so that you can join the fight, even understanding the dangers and possibly deaths that await you?
- But what if you found that you have been given a reprieve from such hardships snd danger?
- And even if you showed up to accomplish your mission, what if you learned that you were not deemed sufficiently competent and worthy to undertake such tasks, and were relegated to duties much less strenuous ... and much safer?
Jim Decker, now an Army captain, returns for a second Vietnam tour. He finds himself assigned to command a combat engineer company in support of a separate airborne infantry brigade operating out of a base camp that was once a French banana plantation.
To his surprise, he learns that his company has been relegated to a base maintenance role.
Yet his investigation reveals numerous instances where additional combat engineer support could have assisted the brigade in its jungle missions.
Can he train up his "leg" unit and gain the confidence of these airborne soldiers so they can benefit from his company’s skills and expertise?
Can he pursuade the brigade to add his company to its air assault operations?
In trying to answer these questions Decker must deal with:
- The possible reluctance of his own NCOs to undertake a major and dangerous change in the unit mission with no assurance that their goal will be accomplished.
- The commander of the brigade's organic engineer company that does not see Decker's unit as a combat multiplier.
- The Brigade Operations Officer who has no time to consider Decker's suggestion that his company can be an asset to the brigade.
- The facts that:
- None of his soldiers has attended an airmobile school to learn helicopter assault operations, and
- Few of his soldiers have actually been out in the jungle.
All the effort of Decker and his men undergo to prepare to assist the brigade appears to be for nothing, but that is before the brigade becomes decisively engaged in Operation Valley Fury in Phúc Yên Valley.
* * *
Delta Dogs is the sequel to QL 20.
Jim Decker, an Army lieutenant, is not much on war but - educated to be an engineer - he wonders if his talents can “make a difference” in this unpopular struggle. With the assistance of his street-smart driver Young, his wizened Platoon Sergeant Green, a wheeler-dealer often-demoted equipment operator Smitty, and some skilled local Vietnamese papa-sans, he first overcomes the challenges of weather, tools, equipment, and VC rocket attacks to complete a high visibility bunker project for the U.S. Third Corps. In this endeavor he meets key people who will influence the balance of his combat tour.
- A no-nonsense Special Forces major advising ARVN soldiers who has little time for military courtesies but needs results, as when Decker has a short notice mission to install emergency lighting to protect a vulnerable and key QL 20 bridge over the Rhang Fhet marshland.
- Weathered warrant officer helicopter pilots of a combat aviation battalion that Decker horse trades into getting key supplies for his men.
- A dishonored lieutenant colonel of the Corps Headquarters who is the epitome of spit and polish in a combat zone, and places similar continual demands on Decker and his men, but who has a heart for soldiering and turns out to be a valuable asset.
- Another new lieutenant of the battalion who makes such a poor first impression that he is relegated to the most menial of duties and responsibilities; but whose actions earn him a Silver Star and - eventually - redemption.
- A good old southern boy, Corporal Johnson, who comes up with unexpected ways to keep the work moving.
* * *
Delta Dogs, is available for purchase at Amazon.com.