Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"We Were Soldiers Once...and Young"

So here we go......

Several weeks ago, I suggested we read the book, "We Were Soldiers Once...and Young" by Lt.Gen. Harold G. Moore(Ret.) and Joseph L. Galloway.

Please feel free at this point to comment on the book. If you would prefer to write a synopsis (oh my, sounds so serious) or answer any or all of the questions below...it's your choice.

1. Did you like the book or not? Did you enjoy it? Is it possible to find a book interesting without 'enjoying' it?

2. Was there a specific passage that had left an impression, good or bad? Share the passage and its effect.

3. Did the book read like a story, a newspaper article, a report, something else?

4. What one new fact did you learn from reading this book?

5. Did this book change your life in a positive or negative way? Please explain.

6. How do characters change or evolve throughout the course of the story? What events trigger such changes?

7. Did certain parts of the book make you uncomfortable? If so, why did you feel that way? Did this lead to a new understanding or awareness of some aspect of your life you might not have thought about before?

8. Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?

My only request is that we remain respectful of each other's comments.


  1. I read this book when it was first published back in the early 90’s. My father bought it for me wanting me to read it because my Uncle Bob fought in the Ia Drang. He is mentioned twice in the book (Ret. Lt. Col. Robert L Barker). He was at Landing Zone Falcon with the heavy artillery and has some tales to tell. I have been to two Ia Drang Veterans’ reunions in Washington DC held on the anniversary of the battle. Reading this book and knowing these men was a life changing experience. You can go to my blog and key in “We Were Soldiers” to read the many posts I have written over the years about these people. I have posted photos of my times at the reunions. Here is one that probably says it best. http://bagwag.blogspot.com/2006/05/memorial-day.html

    I was a basket case the first time I read this book – crying all through it. I could not sleep well because of my restless dreams - worried about the lost platoon, etc. I tried to keep notes so that I could keep all the platoons and people straight in my mind. That may be because I am not military myself and had to learn the lingo. It could be the way the book starts out with the battle and then goes back to “how it all came to be” and then back to the battle in detail. “Did this book make me feel uncomfortable?” Big time! As I said, it changed my life, opened my eyes, made me aware of life in the military, etc all in a good way.

    Special passage: In my blog, I mention Capt. Jeff Donnithorne of the USAF, a young pilot/Wizzo, who was stationed in DC at the time we attended our first Ia Drang reunion and escorted my daughter and me to the banquet. We all had our books in order to get autographs. My daughter opened her book and read the passage where the Air Force flew over and bombed the enemy giving great relief to the soldiers on the ground. She looked up in awe at Capt. Jeff and said, “That was you.” Of course, Jeff was not in the Ia Drang; she was speaking metaphorically that as a USAF pilot, his job was to bring relief to men on the ground.

    Characters: Because I have met many of the people mentioned in this book, I have a little more insight. Let me tell you that the characters are real and true. The relationship between Gen Moore and his wife Julie was probably more awesome than portrayed in the book or movie. Julie was an amazing woman and Hal Moore worshipped her. Bruce Crandal could have been a comedian with his constant jokes – this was probably not brought out in the book so well. But he and Ed Freeman were forever picking and teasing each other about who was the best pilot. I could go on and on about the people.

    The second part of the book, Landing Zone Albany, may have been even more difficult to read than the first part of the book due to the mistakes made by military leaders. Jack Smith was the guest speaker at the reunion and described being used as a sandbag by the North Vietnamese. Probably the most difficult part of the book for me was reading about the women at home and the dread they felt at seeing a yellow taxi. I still cry thinking of the wives and mothers - another eye opening experience.

    Even before meeting the characters in We Were Soldiers, this book made a big impression on me – like no other book. I have read other military books about Korea, WWII, biographies such as Oliver North and Tommy Franks, but Hal Moore and Joe Galloway did an awesome job. They did not try to justify or explain reasoning or pass judgement – the point was that they were all just soldiers, young, and doing their job, trying to survive and save their brothers in arms.

  2. Great Idea, Amnmom.....I'll have to go get the book from the bookmobile.....but I'll catch up!

  3. AM,

    This looks like a lot of fun. Maybe I will have time to participate next time.

  4. Bag Blog did an amazing comment, much more than I ever could. But it is one of the few books I have ever read more than once (3 times), and from the first page I was shocked, awed and hooked. I shed tears because I knew and went to school with 'boys' much like the troops mentioned in the book. Some did not come back, and those who did are not the boys I played football with in high school. They were mad, serious and troubled. Ready to fight at the slightest remark or insult. I still keep in touch with some of them and they have mellowed out since then, thanks to their family support system. They still wake at night from dreams, but not as violently as they did before. So I can only imagine what the survivors of the book go through. Clinton Poley said that every time he gets out of the bath and dries off he sees the scars. How can you not remember with things like that.

    I have always had respect for our combat veterans. As a boy I remember sitting on the floor out of the way and listening to WWII vets talk about combat with my dad. They didn’t know I was there and I heard first hand accounts of a man operating a flame thrower in the Solomon’s with the Marines. I listen to a little, skinny man talk about having to carry a BAR around Belgium because he was the best shot with it. I hung around the corner drugstore listening to neighborhood guys coming home from Korea talking about their war.

    I was fortunate to serve in the Navy just at the start of the Vietnam war. We had just returned from the Westpac when one of the replacement ships, USS Maddox, was fired upon and suck the bastards.

    As for the questions, I will have to get back to you on the answers as I would like the time to think about them. They are good questions. I know that Tony Nadal died in the towers on 9-11. He had gotten out with his people and went back in to see if any more were in there. He was a true hero.

  5. Great Idea, Amnmom.....I'll have to go get the book from the bookmobile.....but I'll catch up! Work From Home


This is our place to discuss books, which we choose to read. Use as much space as needed to share your thoughts.