Book Description

Bulletin Board in front of B Company Orderly Room, LZ UPLIFT

The heroes of Gone to Soldiers, Every One weren’t volunteers, but in late 1967, leaving the Canada option to others, they boarded the troopship for Vietnam with their cohort. Once there, they followed the orders of their appointed leaders. During their time “in-country” they endured terror, stress, hunger, fatigue, loneliness, and leeches. In anguish they witnessed the maiming and killing of buddies they’d come to love more dearly than kin. At the end of their year each one was crammed aboard a chartered jet with a gaggle of strangers.

A day later, dazed, alone and exhausted -- protective instincts still in overdrive -- they were welcomed home by a conflicted and hostile population. To the soldiers it seemed that the taxpayers who’d funded the trip to Vietnam now held them responsible for the way the situation turned bad.

B Company Officers’ Call on the beach, Dec ‘67

As the Commander, Guthrie was responsible for everything B Company did or failed to do. His book treats the men with the love, respect and compassion found in Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. He serves up combat with the grit and detail found in Phillip Caputo’s A Rumor of War. Each chapter depicts up-close the smells and sounds, the terror and carnage of Infantry close-combat in ’67-68. Thanks to his renewed contacts with a sizeable number of the veterans from the unit, he also chronicles the enduring effects of the long-ago ordeal. The italicized final portion of each chapter shows the same men, three and four decades later as they still struggle to come to terms with their experiences.

The detailed combat accounts celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of these men and will inspire generations of Americans. The contemporary accounts show decades later how profoundly ground combat has marked the warriors -- in ink that is sometimes invisible, but always indelible. Historians and diplomats may declare a war to be over, but the book shows how for the men in the mud, the war never ends.

Three comrades revisit the battlefield three decades later

This book is timely. Current events make this story a valuable tool for informing future military leaders about the complexities of combat leadership, but also for showing our people the long-lasting realities of war. While the origins and circumstances of the 1960’s war in Vietnam differ profoundly from those of our twenty-first century fights in Afghanistan and Iraq, the effects on today’s warriors are strikingly similar. In 2010 America’s soldiers are amassing such enormous burdens it is disingenuous for our leaders to express surprise at rising suicide rates, growing PTSD caseloads. As in the 60’s there now is ambivalence about National Strategy and mission, and there continue to be troubling equipment deficiencies.  “When will they ever learn?”

Readers will take away the conviction that, while our country needs always to be ready to defend our way of life, the stakes are so high we should send our young to war only when our nation’s survival truly is in jeopardy.