The men of the U.S. Navy's brown-water force played a vital but often overlooked role in the Vietnam War. Known for their black berets and limitless courage, they maneuvered their aging, makeshift craft along shallow coastal waters and twisting inland waterways to search out the enemy. In this moving tribute to their contributions and sacrifices, Tom Cutler records their dramatic story as only a participant could. His own Vietnam experience enables him to add a striking human dimension to the account. The terror of firefights along the jungle-lined rivers, the rigors of camp life, and the sudden perils of guerrilla warfare are conveyed with authenticity. At the same time, the author's training as a historian allows him to objectively describe the scope of the navy's operations and evaluate their effectiveness.Winner of the Navy League's Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Literary Achievement in 1988 when the book was first published, Cutler is credited with having written the definitive history of the brown-water sailors, an effort that has helped readers better understand the nature of U.S. involvement in the war.
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(155mm x 232mm x 27mm)
Naval Institute Press
Publisher: Naval Institute Press
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US Kirkus Review »
Among the unsung heroes of America's involvement in Vietnam were the sailors and coast-guardsmen who manned the small craft that fought (or stood watch) in that country's coastal and inland waterways. Lt. Cdr. Cutler, a combat veteran who now teaches at Annapolis. here rescues these mariners from obscurity with a concise history that effectively combines vivid tributes to their valor with more formal briefings on how the military developed operational doctrine and vessels suitable for its unconventional flotillas. There's a somber unity to Cutler's narrative in that the first Navy men assigned to Vietnam in 1964 served in an advisory capacity. By mid-1969, Vietnamization had begun (at the behest of the politically astute Adm. Elmo Zumwalt), and the last US naval bases were turned over to local forces in April of 1972. Between times, black-bereted naval personnel played an active role in the war, patrolling rivers and offshore waters to destroy (or confiscate) supplies bound for the Vietcong, braking infiltration from the North, sweeping mines, and participating in bloody assaults on guerrilla strongholds. Using converted pleasure boats, aging LSTs, air-cushion vehicles, swift little cutters, and a variety of other shallow-draft craft, the brown-water sailors compiled a distinguished record. They also won a raft of well-deserved decorations, including a Congressional Medal of Honor, at no small cost in casualties while serving under frequently hellish conditions in tropical theaters. A narrowly focused but praiseworthy addition to the growing log on America's Vietnam experience. (Kirkus Reviews)
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