Reviewed by Max Roark
Arc Light" by G.V. Short is an awesome account of the author?s experiences of his two tours in Vietnam. Starting from his days as a "boot" private getting off the plane in Okinawa, he instantly puts you, the reader, in the driver?s seat as he takes you on a journey of his tour(s) of Vietnam.
The author starts by describing the "culture shock" he received soon after arriving in Okinawa, in route to Vietnam, by his first visit to an Air Force chow hall. We all know what he had been accustomed to. Throughout the book he gives many examples how the other branches of service are far better off than Marines, in regards to their living conditions and just about everything else, come to think of it.
He writes, "Unlike many U.S. Army units, we had never been sent to a rear area, where a unit was supposed to be periodically rested and regrouped. For the Marine grunts, ours was a twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, thirteen months a tour war." Upon arriving in Da Nang, the author describes the first whiff of the repulsive odor as he got off the plane , and the "hurry up and wait" which we all can relate to, even today, he had to endure while waiting to find out which Division he will be assigned to.The author also mentions his first "taste" of live incoming rounds while still in transit. To those of us who were not there, G.V. Short makes you feel like you were right there along side him, especially if you were a grunt. Although this is a must read for all Marines. He reminds you throughout the entire book of how the grunts were always getting "shafted" from getting all the "sh*t details" to the "lifer?s" back at the rear messing with you night and day. Some things never change.
He keeps you updated on several battles that were fought, in great detail, including the times they were fought, the units fighting them and even the casuality rates. He describes the feeling you soon get when you have been in the bush for a certain length of time. For example, he tells of that "blood runs cold" type of feeling one gets while on a night patrol, knowing that if you take another step forward, they will be carrying you out in a body bag, so you say "to hell with it" and start back toward your unit, knowing that the ones who have been "in country" for some time will understand. G.V. Short describes how at times he feels betrayed by his own country, or at least the folks back in Washington, who try and run the war, but not having a clue as to what is actually happening over there.
He goes on to describe the problems that grew constantly worse between the blacks and the whites. He states, "Although the overwhelming majority of the fighting men in the Marines were whites, many of the blacks were very vocal about their perception of being the only ones in the bush.Yet to this day, I don?t think the American public was ever made aware of just how bad it got between the races during the latter part of the war." He also describes the isolation and uneasy feelings he experienced while home on leave. How his family and friends had changed. How he had changed, also. He explains his guilty feelings he had while at home, knowing that his buddies were still over there fighting and trying to survive. How they had become his only "real" family. I could continue on and on on describing how this book is a must read for all Marines, but I was instructed to keep it in check, due to space limitations. So I will try to sum it up . For a Marine from Texas who made only $140.00 a month (including combat pay) and only having a ninth grade education. G.V. Short sure has a gift.