READERS COMMENTS   23 comments

Posted November 25, 2011 by ahauntingbeauty

23 responses to “READERS COMMENTS

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  1. to Jim Magner,
    Thank You for the book and all you did for the others during that terrible time. I am David Herberts aunt, we grew up together, I was only 4 yrs. older and we were always close. On the 4th of July 1966 when we learned of his death, his father came to me and asked if I would help him for the funeral. I sat down and wrote in about 20 minutes the things David had said to me a couple of weeks before when he was home on furlough. I gave it at his funeral with the song being played in the background of ” The Battle hymn of the Republic.” I would like to send you a copy of it if you would like it. I’ve never shared it with any others since his funeral. Thank you again for all you gave to those other boys. We always believed that David stepped on a land mine, it was really hard to find out he died from friendly fire, but good to know the truth. I’m so glad he finally got his stripes back.

    Alice A. Spackman

    Alice A. Spackman
    • Hello Alice,

      I was very moved when I saw your post.

      It was only after I began to complete a seemingly simple matter—getting Dave the rank that I knew he had been awarded—that I found that I was connected to a whole extended family—his actual family and his old platoon buddies. That connection runs deep, and with more understanding and meaning as we get older and are able to look back.

      What’s interesting is that as others read about Dave, the platoon and Vietnam, the family is growing. People really care.

      I would love to have a copy of the poem. What he said to you reveals just who he was at his core, and why he meant so much to his squad and the other guys. And he wasn’t alone in his reasons to be there. So many others felt the same way.

      Being so close to him must have had a devastating impact on you, relieved only slightly that he went down fighting for what he believed in.

      And he did go down fighting. The shooting had stopped, but he was still fighting to save lives, getting his seriously wounded, about half his squad, out to the helipad. He was there for the others who were still reeling from the final desperate assault that none of us thought we would survive.

      He died not from “friendly fire,” nobody shot him by mistake, but by the consequences of a toe to toe battle. Those who have been in such a fight know that there is no neat distinction between friend and foe. The battle becomes a living thing and spreads havoc in all directions. You can only do what you have to do…and everyone did, from the GIs on the ground to the pilots in the air. You wish it could be more easily controlled—ordered—but it is not. That’s war. That’s life.

      We have seen so many things that are wrong, unfair and final, and leave holes in the lives of those left behind. I guess in the end, we can only look back on those who made our lives more complete, and who will always be with us in their own way.

  2. Another big thank you for writing this book. I’m sure my father would have greatly appreciated the kind words you said of him and of knowing and working with you and the fellow soldiers. I have included my email with this reply and when you have an opportunity, I would like to relay some further information. Again, thank you for this book as we have thoroughly enjoyed every page of it.

    Naipo Robertson Jr.
  3. Naipo, thank you so much for your note and kind comments about the book. One of the unexpected consequences of a memoir written after 45 years, is the contacts with the next generation family members who have come face to face with the brothers and fathers they barely knew. Those heroic but complex personalities lived and faced the enemy together in an incredible place, at a very unique time in history. Your father, Sgt. Naipo Robertson, “Mokuwahna,” was truly a legend, but I was able to see the real man behind the stories. He was even bigger than his reputation, because that didn’t include his caring for others, and his understanding of life that I became familiar with. I think he would have chuckled at the stories and loved the memories. I wish I had written this while he was alive.

  4. I remember sgt Robinson,,what a guy with that beret,,,I tried to do what I could For Dave Herbert and his family,,I should have been there when you all did the rest

    Joe Hudson,,,2/18
  5. I just ordered your book. Our connection is that you were my basic training officer D2/2 6/65 to 8/65. You ran us everywhere. It is also cooincidental that my CO in VietNam Lt Peter Ulisse is a college professor at Housatonic Comm College in Bridgeport and he has a wonderful book of vietnam poetry called “Vietnam Voices”. It is indeed a small world and I am pleased to know that your personal experiences will be read by many.

    • Hi Rod. I still have the “yearbook” from that training session. I had to brush off an inch or so of dust. It makes me feel good that the training was tough enough to be memorable. I received my orders for Vietnam during that session and I assumed that much of the class would be in real combat before long as well. Several served with me in the 1st Div., 2/18, like Raymond Green from your class, and came up to say thanks. I hope the training served you well and I am certainly glad you got out alive. I also hope that you like the book, and would love to get your thoughts on it. Thanks.

  6. First of all thank you for the book and how you wrote it. I laughed, cried and remembered the things that went on during my tour 4/68 to 4/69. the BS the action and you captured all of it. what a great read. It also made it that much better having been led by you. there were days when all of us in D 2/2 didn’t particularly like you as the cattle trucks drove by us with the other guys hooting at us as we ran to the various training sites…..some much farther than others HA! Secondly you threw a chill at me….I have been looking for Ray Green for over 40 years. His last letters to me were from Vietnam and then we lost touch. He was my bunk mate and we had lots of good talks. We went to Leesville (diseaseville) one Sunday and were asked to leave a restaurant as they didn’t serve blacks there.!!! what a riot we almost caused.

  7. Finally got the copy of the book….after I read it on Kindle. Would be honored if i could get it autographed by you…if you are so inclined to do so. How can I get it to you. I don’t see my last comment regarding how powerful I thought the book is. You truly conveyed so many of the emotions of so many of us. I did not see ground combat. I was in an aviation BN in Chu Lai for 6 months and then 6 months at the 145th Avn Bn. at Bien Hoa. I have been searching for Raymond Green for over 40 years to no avail.

  8. Hi Rod, Thanks so much for these comments, and for your terrific review of the Kindle version on Amazon. As we said in our emails, I am honored to autograph the book. And thanks for bringing me up to date on your tour in VN and since then. It’s hard to believe that all this time has gone by, with all of it ups and downs, but it is certainly good to be alive. We might appreciate that more than others.

  9. I ordered this book because of the article in the Bridgehead Sentinel. It is probably the best 1st person account of Viet Nam I have read. I have always been in awe of what was required of young, minimally trained, officers and NCO’s in Viet Nam. And you are correct–Nobody wanted to ride inside our tracked RPG magnets:-) (Prepared and Loyal)

  10. Hi Jim. Thank you sincerely for your very kind comments. Maybe the most satisfying thing I can experience as a writer is to have another vet–one who went through the same grind–find it “probably the best” account of what we did. and how we were when we were still kids in many ways. I believe I have signed up for your blog. If not, just send me a note at Many thanks.

  11. Hi Jim,
    I also saw the write up in the Bridgehead Sentinel and just finished reading your book. It was the first time I’ve been able to see or read anything that paralleled my own Vietnam experience as Alpha 36, 2/18 in1968. What a great job you did. All the excitement, emotions, bravado, bonding, confusion and screw ups of combat were there. I had heard stories of what had happen to 2/18 before us but never knew any details. Thanks for taking me back in time with a great read long the way.

    • Many thanks, Jim. It’s good to know that all of the same “excitement, emotion, bravado, bonding, confusion and screw ups” continued on after I left. I suppose all of that is a part of every war. I have had a number of vets tell me that this book comes closer to what they knew in their combat tours than the others. Maybe that is because I deliberately avoided what has become the “Vietnam genre” — populated mostly by psychopaths in a house of horrors. The people we knew were characters in the true sense, but almost all were good people trying to survive the weirdest and most memorable months of their lives.
      Again, many thanks,

  12. Jim: Your “A Haunting Beauty” was a great piece of work and your service in VN was truly commendable. We saw the same war from totally different angles. I was a senior major with 16 years military service and a wife and five children back home in Tucson when I flew 132 sorties (100 in North Vietnam) in RF4C Phantom II aircraft. What I really feel that we shared equally were your observations and choice of words in the postscript after your account of your combat experiences. I thank you for your comments in the autograhing of my copy of “A Haunting Beauty.” Lyle E. Stouffer

    Lyle E. Stouffer
    • Lyle: Thank you for your kind comments. Although we saw the war from different elevations, and at different ages, it was the same experience in many ways. I read your account of your tour with great interest. I doubt that many people have any idea of the risks taken, and the level of performance required to carry out our missions, and how we all counted on each other to get the job done. I’ve gotten a clearer idea of how the operations in the north took a lot of pressure off the south. I have gotten much comment from other vets on the Postscript. I tried to present a clear view of the war, using the facts that have been, for some reason, brushed aside by the media—which has resulted in a great misunderstanding of what happened there.

  13. Got your book from COL/Chaplain Wes Geary…a great perspective and read, just finished it on vacation. I assume you Wes had been telling me for some time the effort to get Herberts promoted, and you guys pulled it off.

    My connection to Wes is that he knew and was great friends with my father (Bill Perry) in Vietnam and later in Germany when dad was a Sergeant Major. Wes was with our family during our time of need, and at dad’s bedside at the Dallas, Texas VA when he passed on 14 Apr 09 at 75. You may have known him as the Bravo, 2/18 INF First Sergeant (May 66/May 67). You shed more light on the June 30 to 2 July fighting (Battles of Srok Dong & Ho Krignou) than I ever heard from dad. He was at Ap Tau O which was pretty serious, but never once spoke much about this fighting, just said it made some of the carnage he saw in Korea pale in comparison.

    Thank you for your service!

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  15. I moved to Wilmington, NC from Southern California last summer, and was happy to become quickly acquainted with my local library in Myrtle Grove. Some months back, I read about a scheduled appearance by Mr. Magner and was intrigued to read about his book. Unfortunately, I was unable to make it to his book reading, which was scheduled at the larger, sister library of the one in my neighborhood; but I checked out the book nonetheless. Vietnam has always been a war that has both fascinated and saddened me. Although I was born in ’72, I have read a lot about the Vietnam war, and seen many movies, one of my favorites being The Deer Hunter, because it delves deeper into the emotional effect of the war on the soldier.
    But, this book…was such a raw and rich account of both the warfare and the fraternizing amongst the soldiers, the gore and the beauty, the dead and the living. Mr. Magner writes with an amazing sense of recollection and humor, and his emotional descriptions of the friendships both found and lost, as well as the bonds that were never to be broken; moved me to the core. Upon my returning the book to the library, I promptly ordered myself a copy from Amazon. This book is precious to me, and I will share it with those I feel are worthy to read it. Mr. Magner, I thank you for serving our country, thank God for you surviving this heinous war, and am also grateful for you writing this gem of a book.
    Peace and blessings.

    • Dear Ms. Siervo

      I am deeply touched by your comments. I am extremely grateful that you persisted in locating and reading, A Haunting Beauty. That you were able to connect so deeply means a great deal to me, not just as a writer, but as a vet. Also, considering the quality of the films and books you have read, it is an honor to be in that company—a very high compliment.

      I was also very taken by your writing. – the rhythm of the words, and the reaching into the heart of the book with honest feelings and expressions. I like to think that your connection has to do with the currents of human experience that I felt during the battle of July 2, 1966. I tried to capture those sensations in the retelling of the battle. It ‘s that reaching, not just back, but forward, that you expressed so well.

      Thank you for entering into that world, and my language, and feeling so close.

  16. Mr. Magner,

    I am truly honored that you took the time to write me.
    I have been a writer since I was 10 and perhaps because of that, am ultra-sensitive and appreciative of good writing.
    You were able to recreate the world within a war, that only those who fought in it truly know.
    You did it with love, humor, respect and grace.
    I just posted my review on Amazon!
    I truly believe you to be an exceptional writer who created one amazing memoir.
    If I were a teacher, I would assign your book amongst others, as I think it to be a great educational tool not only for the writing, but also for the subject matter.
    Take good care and I hope to catch up with you on one of your book tours.

  17. I bought this book when it first came out and re-read it last night. I am four years younger than Mr. Manger but our service overlapped.(Basic at Fort Polk in Summer 1965, Ist ID 1/67-6/68, combat with 1/4 Cavalry as a 19/20-year old RTO calling in our dustoffs. What amazes me is how so many minimally trained young men stepped up to lead others in combat (some very well–some very poorly), At Lt/Cpt Mangers ‘combat’ age of 23 I was just a dumb Air Traffic Control trainee learning how to keep a bunch of airplanes apart using a radar scope. Started the book in the afternoon and finished it late at night. A real keeper. Thanks

    • Thanks Jimmy. That is an incredible complement for the book–that it means so much to someone who was there and experienced the same things. I sometimes look back in the book and I’m astounded that we were so young yet so good at what we did. It was a growing time for us, and we grew: intellectually and morally. The Hollywood depiction of Vietnam as an orgy of murder and mayhem by whacked-out kids is so wrong and dishonors so many of the young adults, volunteers and draftees both, who fought with everything they had and even returned after being wounded to fight again, and maybe die. Sure, not everyone was a hero–and there were some bad actors–but I still find myself proud to have known the men in my platoons.

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