Today it’s Jack Murphy and Gary Dolan, author of the book Of Their Own Accord.
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Foreword to Gary’s book, by Gary A. Linderer
The Vietnam War divided our nation on a scale not witnessed since the Civil War. Its long duration and tragically high number of dead and wounded broke the will of the American people and turned them against the war itself, and in many ways, the men and women who fought there. As a result, these disenfranchised veterans were never accorded the recognition and appreciation their sacrifice deserved. An entire generation of American veterans have been dishonored and mistreated because of a collective national policy that failed from its inception. Yet, no generation before them can claim to have fought with more dignity or more valor than these maligned soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen. Their sense of duty, equal to that of their fathers and grandfathers, can never be challenged.
Their stories were late in coming due to the unpopularity of the war. Early apologists and anti-war authors fed into the national psyche that the victory had been lost and our young warriors had failed. The truth was suppressed to support the populist embarrassment over a final withdrawal that smacked of defeat. It took more than a decade after the war had ended before its veterans, proud of their achievements, began telling what had really happened in the jungles, rice paddies, and mountains of South Vietnam. Only then did we discover that valor and honor were as common in this war as they had been in every war before it.
Hundreds of America’s finest young men and women have since tossed off this veil of shame forced upon them by an ungrateful nation. Proud of the job they did, they unabashedly told their stories in countless biographies–gut wrenching, heart-pounding stories of deadly combat, ambushes, and booby traps that defy description. They have painted vivid pictures of mayhem and destruction that the uninitiated can never imagine. In sharing their experiences, they have preserved forever the trials and tribulations of America’s longest war, and the affects it had on its participants. Once and for all, our nation can understand and accept what it had previously denied—that our young men and women who served in Vietnam had upheld the finest traditions of our military heritage.
Gary Dolan, a platoon leader with Company C (Airborne), 75th Infantry (Ranger), has opted to tell his story in a form unusual for combat veterans of the Vietnam era. Of Their Own Accord is his masterful novel of a year in the life of an Airborne Ranger platoon leader during the height of the war. Although this author has elected fictional device, let me assure you that the story you are about to read is based almost entirely on actual events. During his year in the deadly Central Highlands of South Vietnam, this young West Point graduate defied conventional doctrine and made the decision to lead by example and not by privilege of rank. He personally led numerous 6-man long range patrols deep into enemy territory, not for personal glory, but because he could not…would not…send his men into mortal combat without sharing the peril with them. His story is both revealing and hard-hitting, and runs the full gamut of emotions from abject fear to unqualified heroism, from tender love and devotion to unbridled loyalty to a very special brotherhood of warriors. Dolan reveals the truism that only a combat veteran understands—that it is not patriotism that inspires young men to such bravery, but their love and devotion to their comrades.
Although hidden behind the overt shield of fiction, do not be fooled for a moment. His tale rings as true as any biography that this author has read. I am in deep admiration of his ability as a writer, yet I am even more impressed with his accomplishments as a leader of America’s finest warriors. The Vietnam era LRP/Rangers and their brethren in the Navy SEALs, Force Recon Marines, and Special Forces wrote the book on U.S. special operations. The success our special operations forces enjoy today is a direct result of lessons learned in the green hell that was Southeast Asia.
I am proud and honored to have been asked to write the introduction to this outstanding work. Gary Dolan has written an unqualified tribute to his men and to his nation, a success story in an unsuccessful war. It should be required reading for every young, aspiring officer entering the military today.
Read the prologue to Of Their Own Accord.