Charlie Company’s Journey Home: The Forgotten Impact on the Wives of Vietnam Veterans

Published: September 2nd, 2018     
Product Image
Book Cover
Author: Andrew Wiest
Reviewed by: 
Bob LaBouy, IPMS# 3064
Company: Osprey Publishing
ISBN #: 9781472827494
Other Publication Information: 400 pages
Price: $28.00
Product / Stock #: GNM

I found this book to be a compelling read on several levels. It is written about the lives of women who were involved with and or married to the men who served with Charlie Company, 4thof the 47thInfantry, 9thInfantry Division, stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas.

It is certainly a book full of statistics, averages and other data to provide the reader with a great deal of insight into what life was like for the very few wives already married when their husbands were preparing to go into combat in Vietnam in early 1967. As a nation, we seemed to overlook the terrible toll--mentally and physically, that the women who stay home pay.

There was a great deal of irony in this book for me personally: I graduated from the University of Washington in early 1967 and planned for several years to apply for a commission in the Navy. Both my wife and I were 'service brats' and spent our entire lives 'in the Navy' (though my wife had been raised in an Army Air Corps or Air Force family). We'd both been born 'everywhere' in response to those questions and lived our entire lives from one base to another: I had gone to 9 schools in twelve years of formal education. This is what 'normal' looked like to service brats. It was a nomadic life from our standpoints. My father served in World War II in the Pacific and in Korea. When we stopped to look back at life as I knew it, there had hardly been a home life for both parents, with my father gone long periods due to deployments. Mom managed our home, finances and social life--she was the boss. I can clearly relate to many of the stories told throughout this book.

Contents

  • Prologue
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: The Women of Charlie Company
  • Chapter 2: Marriage and Training
  • Chapter 3: Wartime
  • Chapter 4: Days of Terror
  • Chapter 5: Loss
  • Chapter 6: War's End and Homecoming
  • Chapter 7: Living with Vietnam
  • Conclusion
  • Afterword
  • Cast of Characters

My favorite parts of the book dealt with what life in the early 60's was like and thoroughly enjoyed interview portions concerning family life during that period. Not so enjoyable were stories about their lives as their husbands and boyfriends returned home from Vietnam. There was a lot of social problems associated with their readjustment, as well as the trauma associated with those who could not adjust to the 'new normal.' Divorce rates are very high among those returning from Vietnam as well.

Of special interest to me was the report that 23% of Charlie Company suffers from some form of PTSD and are 100% disabled as a result. My brother is 100% disabled and clearly shows many same signs of alcohol abuse, multiple unsuccessful marriages, and chronic physical disabilities described in Wiest's fine scholarly book.

This is a serious book and as such deserves a dedicated effort to fully understand and absorb. Just one of many aspects of this book is the statement nearly 1 million women were married to the U.S. combatants which was narrowed to 24 extensive interviews noted and included in the book. It was also surprising to me that Charlie Company suffered a small number of married combat loses--seven in total.

I was also sorry to not find any index, as this was a preview copy and not quite complete.

Our thanks to Osprey Publishers for the review copy and my thanks to IPMS/USA for my opportunity prepare this review.

  • Contents
    Contents
  • Introduction
    Introduction
  • Page 22, The Women of Charlie Company
    Page 22, The Women of Charlie Company
  • Page 23
    Page 23
  • Page 83, Wartime
    Page 83, Wartime
  • Page 277
    Page 277
  • Page 278
    Page 278

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