We either became men or we became statistics at the Siege of Khe Sanh. Those who became statistics were the real men. They were the heroes. Khe Sanh may not have altered the outcome of the war, but it added to the mystique of the Marine Corps because despite overwhelming odds, we refused to lose. [excerpt from Semper Cool]
Semper Cool: One Marine's Fond Memories of Vietnam by Barry Fixler
Exalt Press, 2010
Nonfiction; 320 pgs
Despite my being born after my father's service in Vietnam, the Vietnam War was still a part of my life. It was a part of who my dad was and, to a degree, shaped the way he viewed the world. Like Barry Fixler, my father enlisted in the Marine Corps straight out of high school. The two men went on to serve in Vietnam. From there, their experiences diverge, but I imagine there are some similarities. I read Fixler's memoir thinking of my dad and what his life might have been like during that time in his life. I have always been proud of my father's service, of his being a Marine, and after reading Semper Cool, I couldn't help but feel even more proud.
The author has a great sense of humor, even about himself, which is one of the things I most liked about the book. His pride in his country and as a Marine is clear throughout the book. The book is written in a simple and rather plain manner, but that isn't necessarily bad. As a reader, I got a real feel for who Barry Fixler was and what he was going through. He didn't coat the truth with sugar or try to paint himself a hero--although he certainly is that in his own right.
Semper Cool is not just about the author's experiences during the war, but also his story about how he became a Marine and how it shaped his life. He also writes about being a victim of an attempted burglary, and how he turned the tables on the thieves. The author's inspiration for writing the book, however, was to raise money for American Iraqi and Afghani war veterans with medical needs, as well as for their families--all his profits on the book go to the cause. All too often they fall through the cracks and receive little to no aid from the government and country they serve. Fixler's fundraiser at his jewelry store to help the family of one such soldier was a huge success, Americans coming from all over to donate money and volunteer their services. Stories like that always warm my heart. People do care.
You can learn more about Barry Fixler and his book on the author's website.
Challenge Commitment Fulfilled: War Through the Generations: Vietnam War Challenge
Source: Many thanks to Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit and the author's publicist for the opportunity to review a copy of this book.
© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.