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The Pipes Were Calling: A Vietnam War Story…
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The Pipes Were Calling: A Vietnam War Story

by David Flaherty

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Recently added byJPodlaski, nycxile, LamSon
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The Pipes Were Calling by David Flaherty is classified as a work of fiction; however, it is written with so much accurate detail that I have to believe this story is about the author's tour in Vietnam and beyond.

The protagonist, Danny Murphy, arrives in Vietnam as an innocent, naive, scared 18-year-old soldier with only five months in the Army. He is assigned to the 199th Light Infantry Brigade, their area of operations primarily in the southern Delta part of the country. Danny's first experience with a local is when an old Vietnamese lady confronts him in the shower area, offering to shine his boots for a small fee. Embarrassed by her presence and anxious to get her on her way, he agrees, but soon regrets - believing that she has stolen his only pair of boots. After exiting the shower area, Danny is relieved to see the old mama-son squatting nearby and working diligently on his boots. When finished, she also sells him a simple cross on a shoelace - convincing him that it as a good luck charm and he will be safe when wearing it.

He befriends a Shake 'n Bake Sergeant, who arrived at the same time he does. Taking Danny under his wing, Sgt. Penny has him assigned to the same squad and helps to prepare him for the field. The morning after the first night in the bush, both Danny and Sgt. Penny are forgotten, left behind by the rest of the platoon to fend for themselves. Fortunately, Sgt. Penny participated in the pre-mission briefing and knew of the final objective. Using his map and compass, both soldiers catch up with the rest of the group later in the day.

Danny soon makes friends with Odie Burke, a black soldier in the squad and experienced point man. He teaches Danny the ropes and how to identify booby traps - soon pairing up to walk point whenever it was the squads' turn. Most casualties incurred by the troops are due to exploding booby traps - firefights with the enemy are far and few in between.

Danny is pulled from his squad and sent to sniper school – a new mandate for the Brigade, and then reassigned to Charlie Company – the worst in the division with the highest rate of casualties. From this moment on, Danny continues to find himself in precarious situations; most caused by lousy communications and poor judgment of the battalion’s officers – luckily, he escapes death more than once.

Eventually, fate catches up. Danny loses his ‘good luck cross’ and is soon the victim of a booby trap, seriously wounding him. While recuperating in a hospital outside of Vietnam, Danny learns from another patient and friend from his old squad that everyone had perished during a massive ambush and he is the lone survivor. He falls into a major depression, dwelling on those friends he lost. Then when Danny is finally discharged from the hospital, he and others in uniform are attacked by a group of war demonstrators who beat the soldiers to the ground.

Danny goes on lock down, keeping his past military experience – especially that he was a Vietnam Veteran a secret. These bottled up memories remain a problem for more then twenty years before he is compelled to seek help and learn how to deal with the demons that plague him.

I did find that something odd happened in the second half of the book. Like flicking a light switch, suddenly formatting, typos and sentence structure errors came out of nowhere and continued for the rest of the story. Not certain if it is due to my personal Kindle settings or something that happened when the author uploaded. It’s worth looking into and fixing if it’s on Amazon’s end.

I strongly recommend “The Pipes Were Calling” to anyone wanting to learn how war impacts the young soldiers who were called upon to fight it – especially the Vietnam War which is considered the most unpopular war of the century. The story will pull on all your emotions. Kudos Mr. Flaherty!

John Podlaski, author
Cherries - A Vietnam War Novel ( )
  JPodlaski | Nov 6, 2013 |
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