Fall from Grace
The Vietnam Conflict is still an open wound that refuses to heal for the many Americans who fought and survived. Corporal Albert, a United States Marine, spent 44 months in Vietnam and 189 days as a POW—and endured more wounds than most during his service. The author, Michael Short, chronicles Albert’s training and extensive service as Marine Infantryman in Vietnam. Corporal Albert lived continuously in harm’s way. He served as an infantryman, in a Combined Action Platoon, and in a Recon Battalion. The crucible of Vietnam forged bonds between Albert and his fellow marines that a lifetime could not break. None were stronger than the bond he had with Lance Corporal Mack, who he spent 189 days with enduring torture and interrogation from the North Vietnamese. That bond provided the sanity and strength needed to conduct their heroic escape. Corporal Albert earned the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and six Purple Hearts for injuries sustained during the conflict. Those injuries are minor compared to the pain inflicted by his beloved Marine Corps when they gave an 18-year veteran a general discharge, which denied him the ability to retire as an honorable Marine.
Michael Short gives incredible insight into the compassion and courage of Corporal Albert. He immediately endears the reader to Albert as he extensively details the torture Albert and Mack suffered during their time as POWs. The book is challenging at times, because it doesn’t follow Albert’s service in a chronological order. The author, on several occasions, jumps back and forth, so at times, it is difficult to follow. I believe this was intentional in order to build the emotion within the reader. As I kept reading the exploits of Corporal Albert, I kept asking myself what could a Marine, who had given so much to his country, have done to warrant a general discharge? As I turned the pages, my frustration grew. Not until the final paragraph does Short reveal the reason for the discharge. Immediately my frustration turned to anger, and was redirected away from Short and onto the United States Marine Corp. I won’t undermine the author’s intent by revealing the cause of the general discharge, because every reader should experience a fragment of the frustration felt by Corporal Albert. It is the debt we owe to all of those who served during that frustrating war.
|Page Count||389 pages|
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|Category||Biographies & Memoirs|