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Year in Nam : a Native American soldier's…
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Year in Nam : a Native American soldier's story (1999)

by Leroy TeCube

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I have read a few books about the war in Vietnam, most notably Karnow's Vietnam and Caputo's Rumor of War. But I never read a book about Vietnam, or any other war for that matter, that portrayed the experience of an ordinary soldier in the hardest of places, the infantry, with the grit and transparency of Leroy TeCube in Year in Nam: A Native American Soldier's Story.

TeCube gives a brief bit of background to himself and his story by describing his family, his early life, and his culture as a Jicarilla Apache. (Full disclosure: I have lived on the Jicarilla reservation for the past two years and recently met TeCube, sparking my desire to locate and read his book.) He takes the reader through the experience of his Army training and then it is off to Vietnam for the bulk of the story, where he spent 12 months in 1968/69 in the infantry and on the front lines of combat. Front lines is a bit of a misnomer, as TeCube is told early in his tour that the only ground that is securely under the control of the US military was the ground any particular soldier was standing on at the moment.

TeCube portrays the grueling nature of the war in Vietnam and how tenuous the military situation was. Nearly every day is filled with hard, tiring and dangerous work and virtually nothing happens that can be characterized as a victory. The same types of battles are fought day after day after day. Anything that might be considered a measure of success one day quickly fades back to the control of the enemy. The only ground that seems to be held safely for any period of time are the larger operating bases, and even they are frequently under attack.

Being of Native American heritage gave TeCube an unusual vantage point from which to understand the war and his place in it, which is a fascinating part of his story. I greatly enjoyed this book and I commend it to anyone who would like to gain an understanding of the Vietnam war in general, and particularly the extraordinary experiences of those who spent 12 months on the front lines. ( )
  BradKautz | Dec 9, 2015 |
The author served in Vietnam from January 1968 to Jan 1969. He tells his story well, though it is hard to know how he could remember all he did, since he did not start writing till 1990 and the book was publshed in 1999, winning an American Book Award. One is struck by the sagacity he showed, and he does not seem to be bragging, but he sure seems to have been sn able soldier The closing chapters are particularly poignant. I think this is the best war memoir by an ordianry soldier in Vietnam which I have read. ( )
  Schmerguls | Mar 31, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0803294433, Paperback)

In 1968 Leroy TeCube left his home on the Jicarilla Apache reservation to serve as an infantryman in Vietnam. Year in Nam is his story of that long, terrifying, and numbing year of combat, one that profoundly affected the men in TeCube’s platoon and tested the strength of his own Native American heritage.
 
Tecube was a respected point man and leader of his platoon. His memoir provides an intimate glimpse of the daily lives of infantrymen—the monotony of camp, the oppressive heat, the deceptively dull routine of patrols, the brief but furious eruptions of combat, the forging of platoon squads on the crucible of trust, a pervasive sadness and indifference, and a growing acceptance of the imminence of death. Particularly powerful are Tecube’s observations and experiences from the perspective of a Native American soldier. Many aspects of TeCube's cultural heritage—his traditional religious beliefs, the farewell blessing from an Apache medicine man, the memory of special powwow dances held back home for soldiers—were a source of strength to him.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:17 -0400)

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