I have spent much of my time agonizing about the duty required of me as I set out to chronicle the events of the Vietnam War. Here is a thing I need to make abundantly clear to my reader, and I say this with the total conviction I have felt in my soul from the time I was a small boy until now. The United States Military is, bar none, the finest and most honorable institution in our entire country. 
            I was a snot-nosed kid of seventeen when I enlisted. I was rebellious to authority, argumentative and disrespectful to every single NCO who had the duty to make a man of me. I was also among the first to enlist in the new all volunteer army of the post Vietnam War. My reasons for joining up were simple. Having been on my own from the age of twelve, cleaning toilets at the bar after closing time, washing dishes and dabbling at construction work a bit, I dropped out of high school and had no direction in life at all. The army fed me, housed me, and gave me a small paycheck while bringing structure to my life. I was given three years to start figuring out the man I wanted to be and how I wished to live. It helped!
            I volunteered for jump school so that I could get an extra fifty-five dollars a month hazardous duty pay. We called it jump pay. In the 82ndAirborne Division to which I was assigned we had traditions of our own. When we saluted an officer, we did not say “Good Morning Sir’ or “Good Afternoon Sir”. It was always “ALL THE WAY SIR”! That was our motto. I always felt proud to say it, not even really knowing why. I get it now. It was a promise to follow our commanders wherever our country sent us and see it through regardless of what may be required. 
            After a lifetime of regret concerning the disrespect I gave those NCO’s, many of whom gave much and had comrades in arms who gave all, I am hoping to repay them now with the honor and respect they deserve. They did indeed go “ALL THE WAY”. I count them among my heroes.
            Growing up, I had several true heroes that I admired. I will name three. Audie Murphy was a western movie legend for me. He was more importantly the most highly decorated soldier in WWII. I watched the autobiographical movie “To Hell and Back”, in which he portrayed himself, countless times. President John Kennedy was also a decorated veteran of the WWII Navy. Our country will never know what it lost due to his assassination. Most of all I want to thank Nelson DeMille for the inspiration he gave me through the reading of his novels. A decorated veteran in Vietnam as a 1stLieutenant in the First Cavalry, he went on to be a prolific writer of fiction. My inspiration to become a novelist has its roots in two of his novels. Those who enjoy a well-done depiction of the military should read “Word of Honor”. His novel “Upcountry” (my favorite) will be my guide while writing the next two novels in the “White Bird” series, as they are very much about the Vietnam War. I believe that Nelson allowed me a peek into his soul in writing about the Vietnam experience. Nelsondemille.net. Mister Demille, I hope you read and enjoy my novels some day. ALL THE WAY, SIR.
            I never lived up to being the hero I wanted to be so I am creating heroes of my own who are a part of myself and exemplify the kind of men I wished to become. In writing my first novel “White Bird” Book One: Among the Nez Perce”, I am learning the meaning of courage, honor, and fidelity in the truest tradition of the great Nez Perce People and the men and women who served. I hope I do them all proud. Follow my progress if you wish.

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