Vietnam War Still Matters

By Patarcity, Steven A. | Army, November 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

Vietnam War Still Matters


Patarcity, Steven A., Army


Vietnam War Still Matters

Young Soldiers, Amazing Warriors: Inside One of the Most Highly Decorated Battalions of Vietnam. Col. Robert H. Sholly, USA Ret. Stonywood Publications. 437 pages. $22.95.

In the almost 50 years that have elapsed since the beginning of the U.S. Army's direct involvement in the Vietnam War, many works have been published on the Southeast Asia conflict. Some of the best works covering tactical engagements and the units that fought on that level are well-known to most students of military history.

Young Soldiers, Amazing Warriors, by retired Col. Robert H. Sholly, is a book that is destined to be regarded as one of the best accounts of the Vietnam War and the soldiers who fought in it. A 35- year Army veteran, Sholly did two tours in the Republic of Vietnam. He concluded his distinguished career at the Center of Military History as a historian. His book is the tale of his first tour of duty, in 1966 and 1967 as a young captain, battalion staffofficer and then company commander of B Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, operating in the central highlands of Pleiku.

Sholly's account takes us from a brief discussion-one chapter-of his early career, commissioning, and snippets of his personal life to his arrival in Vietnam and his tour of duty. This is a must-read with excellent writing; it made me feel like I was there. I was struck by the author's meticulous ability to account, almost minute by minute, for his and his unit's actions on a particular day, even after the passage of so much time. This detailed accounting can be traced to two factors: a highly effective use of oral histories, which were actively encouraged and solicited from his soldiers and others associated with his company; and Sholly's own detailed and precise journal that he kept and refers to throughout the book.

Couple those factors with Sholly's style and method of delivery along with good references, explanations and photographs, and you have a superb accounting of men at war and a great glimpse into the daily life of a combat infantryman. One can clearly see how Sholly remains honest about his own successes and mistakes. He constantly sought to improve himself and his unit. He cared for his men, agonized over their training and performance, mourned losses, and to this day continues to marvel at their heroism and dedication to each other. …

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