Book Tells Of Vets' Lives During Time In Vietnam
By TAYLOR GRIFFIN
While it has been over for almost 40 years, the reality and vivid memories of the Vietnam War continues to linger in the minds of the soldiers who lived it.
As a way of showing what it was like to live the experience of a soldier, veterans of the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division's Charlie Company wrote a book, "Dogface Charlie," that contains details and personal stories of their time in Vietnam. A few of these members come from East Texas roots.
"The theory is that 100 years from now, people can pick up the book and see the day-to-day life in Vietnam," said Ruth Hutto, wife of Gary Hutto, a Frankston resident and member of the company. "It's not about blood and guts. It's real life."
Tom Mercer, a member of the company, initially came up with plan while visiting the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., He then presented the idea to the Charlie Company at it's annual reunion.
After about two years in the making, 32 of the members contributed stories and collected photos, Mrs. Hutto said.
The book was taken in by the 1st Division Museum at Cantigny in Wheaton, Ill., who published the final product on May 3 during one of the company's reunions held there.
Mrs. Hutto said the name stems from their radio and company call names along with what the boys liked to call themselves -- Dogface Charlie Swamp Rats.
Hutto, who earned a Purple Heart during his time as a soldier in Vietnam, also contributed some of his experiences in the book, specifically referring to a five-day ambush that occurred in October 1968.
"It's not really even about the war," Mrs. Hutto said. "It's more about how it changed them."
While many books and stories have been published about life during the Vietnam War, Paul Herbert, the executive director of the museum, said that this particular book is different.
"It contains long, considered essays and brief anecdotes and reminiscences by the soldiers themselves, nearly all of whom served together," he said. "It is their statement of what is important to remember."
Herbert also said the book is important because it records the individual recollections of soldiers coming from a single company.
"Therefore, (it) gives the reader insight into the collective, as well as the individual, experiences of infantrymen in combat," he said.
Supplemental materials such as photos and extra stories can be found on the museum's website.
For more information on the First Division Museum at Cantigny or to order a copy of "Dogface Charlie," go to firstdivisionmuseum.org.