25 July, 2018

The Other Vietnam War: A Helicopter Pilot's Life in Vietnam By Marc Cullison!

The Other Vietnam War: A Helicopter Pilot's Life in Vietnam
By Marc Cullison
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs, Historical, Military & Wars, Vietnam War
Book Description 
Each of us who served in Vietnam was the guy next door, the average Joe, not a hero.
The boy who might date your daughter or sister. The young man who might mow your yard.
In Vietnam, we weren’t out to be heroes. We just did our jobs.

For a helicopter pilot, each day was like all the others. You flew the mission and never
stopped to think that it might be your last. You didn’t think about the bullet holes in the
helicopter, the cracks in the tail boom, or about any of it until night, lying in bed when
you couldn’t think of anything else.

The Other Vietnam War is the story of the introduction to a new country, a backward
culture, the perils of a combat zone, and the effects on a young lieutenant fresh out of
flight school. It does not labor the reader with pages of white-knuckle adventures, as
so many other fine books about the Vietnam War do. It instead focuses on the internal
battle each soldier fought with himself to make sense of where he was, why he was there,
and if he was good enough.

The administrative duties of Commissioned officers, while tame compared to the
exploits of valiant pilots who wrote about them, caused a deep introspection into life
and its value in an enigmatic place like Vietnam. Aside from the fear, excitement,
deliverance, and denial that each pilot faced, the inner battle he fought with himself
took its toll. Some of us thought we’d find glory. But many of us discovered there is no
glory in war.

About the Author
Marc Cullison is a baby-boomer who grew up in an era when education was everything.
After serving time as helicopter pilot with the U. S. Army Reserve, including time in Vietnam,
a masters degree in architectural engineering helped honed his technical skills as a
professional engineer. Then into quality control at a manufacturing plant which led him
into computer programming. He was a math and science instructor at Connors State College
in Warner and Muskogee, Oklahoma, for thirteen years. Now retired from teaching, he lives
with his wife in a self-built log house near Sallisaw.

On Goodreads: https://bit.ly/2JdRIEj
An Excerpt
The male college student in the late sixties was screwed. If he had a clean nose, he could
avoid the draft with a college deferment. But even a minor academic mishap could erase
that and he would be on his way to see the world, courtesy of Uncle Sam. That’s what they
said in the commercials: “Join the army, see the world.” Hell, I hadn’t even been anywhere
but Kansas and Oklahoma. I had 49 other states to see in North America. I didn’t give a rat’s
ass about the rest of the world. Not then, anyway. But as a student, I suspected Vietnam was
inevitable.

Unless a guy had a shitload of luck, if he weren’t in college, he was probably already on a plane
headed for Vietnam. Another option was a medical deferment. If you were gung-ho,
you had no interest in that. If you weren’t gung-ho and had the money and knew the right
doctor or congressman, you could buy one. Then there was always Canada.

Those of us who had enough drive to seek an education and the integrity to do what we
thought was right ignored the ranting of our fellow students and peers who opposed the
Vietnam War and pursued commissions as officers in the armed services. That was ROTC,
the Reserve Officers Training Corps. All eligible freshmen and sophomores were required to
undergo four semesters, or twelve credit hours, of ROTC training. Since it was a bona fide
course, ROTC counted toward a student’s grade point average. For those who loathed military
training, this was a thorn in the saddle of education, at least to the students who were in
college to actually get an education. To those who weren’t, it was even more so, because
they could easily jeopardize their draft deferment with low grades in ROTC. To the few who
were gung-ho, it was a cushion for their grades.

The draft was not a fair business, but without it, our nation’s defense might have suffered.
A strong military seems to deter aggression by other countries. So, I can’t be too hard on the
draft. It was a necessary bit of awkwardness that we had to go through. I don’t begrudge our
country taking young men to fight for it. I was glad to do it. That’s not quite all there was to this
scenario, though. It’s what we were sent to fight for that’s the problem.

Since advanced ROTC was optional, after the sophomore year, most of the fellows dropped
out of it. Enrollment in advanced ROTC meant you belonged to the military machine. You were
one of them. You studied two more years, got your degree, and along with it a commission as
a second lieutenant. Then you served your time, usually two or three years on active duty
before being released. Well, you were still subject to being called up for active duty again,
but that didn’t happen very often.

Those of us who didn’t drop out knew what was coming down the pike and figured that
instead of allowing the military to tell us that we were going to be grunts sloshing and slashing
our way through the rice paddies and jungles of Vietnam, we would select our own means
of risking our lives and satisfying our military obligation. Well, there was a slight chance
that you might escape the draft lottery. All the dates of birth of all eligible men were put into
a pool and the dates were drawn, supposedly, at random. If your birth date was the first drawn,
you would be the first to be called up for service. The first 120 dates were almost assured of
being drafted unless that person had a deferment. Because I already had an education
deferment, I had no idea what my number was and I really didn’t care. I’m sure I saw it on
the notice I received from the Selective Service Board, but I paid no attention to it. At that
time, it didn’t matter. But if I graduated, I would lose my deferment and if my crappy luck
held, it would be the only time in my life that I would be close to number one. I made sure
that didn’t happen.

I’ve always wondered, though, what my number would have been. And what kind of person
I would be now if I were number one and didn’t finish college?

Interview with the author!
What do you find most challenging about the writing process, and how do you deal with it?
Creating realistic scenes. It’s difficult, at times, to place myself in a character’s situation and
predict how the character reacts to it. I have to think about what has happened in my life, or the
lives of others I’m close to, in order to construct the proper elements of a reaction. I believe a r
eaction to a situation occurs in phases, or parts. First, the surprise, then an incentive to solve it,
then the reasoning for possible solutions, and finally, action. Of course, these things happen quickly
in the human mind, so they can’t be drawn out into boring narrative.


When and where do you do your writing?
I find that I can write just about anywhere. I just have to be in the mood for it. The right mood
enables me to ignore any people and activities around me and focus on what I’m writing.


Do you have any routines to help you write?
I don’t have a ritual that I follow. I just sit down and write, usually without a detailed scenario
or story line for a novel. I just have an idea and let it run its course. Naturally, this leads to many
dead ends, but in the end, I wind up with something that can be unpredictable and prolific in s
ubsequent scenes for the story. In the case of a memoir, I become caught up in events that wash
onto the paper in a tide of memories. Little motivation is required, in that case.


What are you most proud of as a writer?
The fact that I can do it with some success. I used to hate reading, and especially, writing. For
the most part, I enjoyed school, except for the “stupid” books we had to read and the senseless
book reports we had to write, although I did master the art of sentence diagraming. Much later
in life I managed to overcome the fear of writing and learned to love the manipulation of words.


If you could have dinner with any writer, living or dead, who would it be and what would you talk about?
Herman Wouk. I’ve always admired the depth of his writing skills and personalities in his stories.
The combination of drama, humor, and personal introspection give a weight to his novels that few
can match, at least within my meager exposure to literature.

1 comment:

Marc Cullison said...

I want to thank Kathleen Kelly, the CelticfLady, for allowing me the opportunity to showcase my book. It is a privilege to be among the other good titles on this site. If THE OTHER VIETNAM WAR is not in your future, then select one of the other books listed here. From what I can tell from the descriptions, any of them would be a good read.

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