Billups’ book is a stunning piece of writing that will likely take its place as one of the best Vietnam memoirs ever written. Here, he draws a comparison between Hollywood movies and his on-the-ground experiences.
WILMINGTON, NC, October 06, 2022 /24-7PressRelease/ — ‘We Were Soldiers’ is a 2002 Vietnam War movie starring Mel Gibson, Madeline Stowe, Sam Elliot and Greg Kinnear. The movie was based on the book ‘We Were Soldiers Once . . . And Young’, written by Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Hal Moore and Joseph L. Galloway. The Vietnam War has been the subject of a large number of mega-hit Hollywood movies that attempt to portray the war as accurately as possible, though it is likely beyond the ability of film to adequately convey such experiences. Books do a better job perhaps, as they allow us to experience not only actions, but also the thoughts and feelings of those brave souls who protect us all.
Jack Billups, author of the bestselling Vietnam War memoir, ‘My Vietnam’, recently offered some insight regarding what the Vietnam War was really like, as compared to versions that has been portrayed on the big screen, specifically in the movie ‘We Were Soldiers’.
We were soldiers portrayed the beginning of a new army division blended into an old one. In my book, “My Vietnam-A Gift to My Daughter” I wrote, “the 1st Cavalry traded in their horses for choppers.”
“Hal Moore, (Mel Gibson) was assigned to head up the 1st Air Cavalry. In an attempt to gain an advantage over enemy soldiers who have been fighting on their own turf for the past 20-years, a new strategy was created. With helicopters, the U.S. Army could quickly transport grunts to suspected NVA infestations.
“I also was a grunt in the 1st Air Cavalry and became a participant of this quick response mobile division.
“The beginning of the movie had historical value revealing a new strategy, ‘combat assaults.’ I found this interesting. Then when the 1st Air Cavalry began operations in Vietnam, that’s when the movie’s accuracy dissolved.
“The first engagement with the enemy looked more like the American Civil War scene where numerous NVA soldiers ran across open fields yelling at the top of their lungs. This battle lasted for days, ending with a mountain of enemy bodies. At that point the movie felt like a mix of WW 2, and Vietnam.
“Granted, I served in the 1st Cavalry in 69 & 70. ‘We Were Soldiers’ occurred in 1965, therefore I can’t say with certainty this kind of a battle never happened, but I doubt it. Only fortified Landing Zones experienced that kind of attack, and only at night.
“In my book I describe a different scenario. In the jungle it was hard to see, and if visual contact was made, it was brief while both sides hit the dirt and hid behind bushes and trees.
“The number of enemy soldiers was smaller, and the duration of the firefights were shorter.
“The Combat Assaults were accurate with one exception, we had Cobra gunships on our flanks firing into the landing zone before touchdown.
“More accurate and relatable was the movie, ‘Platoon.’ I found myself becoming Charlie Sheen’s character from the beginning to the end of his tour.
“Although trivial, I found the bright yellow 1st Cavalry patch on the soldiers’ uniforms strange. The patch used in Vietnam was black and olive green making it subdued.
“There’s no doubt that serving as a grunt in the 1st Air Cavalry wasn’t boring. The numerous combat assaults blended together as we went from one firefight to another.”
Bestselling author Jack Billups, as a 19-year-old Army volunteer, received the Bronze Star with the V attachment. He was awarded the Air Medal, which went to those who participated in combat aerial missions. Assigned to the 1st Air Calvary infantry as an M60 machine gunner, Jack served in the steamy jungles near the Ho Chi Minh trail along the Cambodian border. Recently he received a number of awards and official commendations for his service during the Vietnam War, a story that eventually became a bestselling Vietnam memoir, My Vietnam: A Gift To My Daughter.
“From what I’ve been able to tell, most people see the Vietnam war through the prism of two-hour movies,” Billups wrote. “It’s blood, guts, firefights, and death the entire time. Hollywood, how they distort things! The reality was different; it would be more accurate to select any Vietnam movie and stretch it out over a year.”
My Vietnam is, at its core, a love story, combined with a dramatic and searing account of the Vietnam War experience. That experience is shared with a family member, in the most intimate way possible – a return trip to the battlefields of Vietnam.
Billups’ memoir puts the reader into a pair of combat boots, and allows them to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch the Vietnam combat experience in vivid detail. That is but part of the story.
“Hey Dad, please share your Vietnam experiences?” Naomi’s request set into motion a journey, 50 years into the past, as a “grunt” in the steamy jungles of Vietnam. Four months later with his memoir completed, Naomi asked, “Dad, let’s go to Vietnam, just you and me?” Could the ghosts of Vietnam past morph into a father and daughter blessing in the present?
George C. Colclough, Col. Inf (retired) US Army, former president, and CEO of Smith & Wesson, stated in the introduction to the book, “Just another Vietnam War book? Certainly not, Jack takes you down two roads as he embarks on one remarkable journey with his daughter. First, Jack effectively articulates his story in such a way that puts the reader into the boots of a grunt, causing them to feel what he felt, and understand the daunting challenges of those who traveled the Vietnam jungle.
“Secondly, Jack and his daughter continued this remarkable adventure as they traveled back to Vietnam to return to the places where her father had so many vivid experiences. A wonderful story!”
What really sets this bestselling memoir apart is Billups’ writing style. There is no pretense; nothing feels forced or contrived, made up or embellished. Billups presents his real-life characters in such a way as to make the reader feel intimately familiar with each of the members of his very young band of brothers, warts, and all. Billups tells it exactly as it was.
His style holds through the second part of the book, describing his return to Vietnam and the jaw-dropping changes now evident in modern day Vietnam. One of the highlights of the second part of the book is the reunion, bringing those somewhat innocent young men back together many decades later as mature men. Readers will get a vivid look, from many points of view, at how the Vietnam experience changed the lives of those who lived through that experience.
It is also a compelling memoir that reconciles America and Vietnam, then and now, including the culture shock of seeing Vietnam as it exists today. It offers a heartfelt and heartwarming message to the people of both countries, and a greater understanding of what the old song “Ruby” called “that crazy Asian war.”
Readers and reviewers alike have praised ‘My Vietnam: A Gift to My Daughter’. It has been called “A beautiful journey to healing,” and “A thought-provoking and introspective Vietnam memoir”. One reviewer said, “The book was so good, I was sad when I finished it.” Another stated, “Jack’s memory of his time in Vietnam has been beautifully detailed in his book. Not everyone wants to relive such a terrible page in our American history, but Jack was able to do a remarkable job talking about actual events that he lived through and came back home in one piece to give such a wonderful gift he has given to his daughter.”
Another wrote, “The book delivered on my husband’s hopes for a healing response to what our Armed Services faced over there. My husband usually can’t read much Vietnam War material due to PTSD. He read this in just a few days; it was that good. Our thanks to the author for undertaking this topic and telling his story.”
The book will make for an engaging read for veterans, spouses and children of veterans and others who have been impacted in any way by serving in any branch of the military, as the memoir includes the years leading up to, and after his service in Vietnam, including the effects his tour in Vietnam had on his family.
Jack Billups is available for media interviews and can be reached using the information below or by email at [email protected]. ‘My Vietnam: A Gift to My Daughter’ is available at Amazon in Kindle, paperback, and audio formats. More information is available at Billups’ website at https://myvietnambook.com.
About Jack Billups:
As a 19-year-old Army volunteer, Sgt. Jack Billups received the Bronze Star with the V attachment. He was awarded the Air Medal, which went to those who participated in combat aerial missions. Assigned to the 1st Air Calvary infantry as a M60 machine gunner, Jack served in the steamy jungles near the Ho Chi Minh trail along the Cambodian border.
Jack grew up during the 1950s and early 1960s in a peaceful Southern California community populated by many senior citizens and dotted with chicken ranches. He is a dependable and talented “everyman” who makes no claim about his service in Vietnam except for being a patriotic American who did “the right thing” as he saw it. He maintained that attitude throughout his life. Asked to talk about his military experience by his daughter, he began writing it out, and ended up exposing 50-year-old forgotten memories and emotions about the jungle war, concluding with a trip back to Vietnam with his daughter.
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