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When the 160 men of Charlie Company (4th Battalion/47th Infantry/9th ID) were drafted by the US Army in May 1966, they were part of the wave of conscription that would swell the American military to 80,000 combat troops in theater by the height of the war in 1968. In the spring of 1966, the war was still popular and the draftees of Charlie Company saw their service as a rite of passage. But by December 1967, when the company rotated home, only 30 men were not casualties—and they were among the first vets of the war to be spit on and harassed by war protestors as they arrived back the U.S.
In his new book, The Boys of ’67, Andy Wiest, the award-winning author of Vietnam’s Forgotten Army and The Vietnam War 1956-1975, examines the experiences of a company from the only division in the Vietnam era to train and deploy together in similar fashion to WWII’s famous 101st Airborne Division.
Wiest interviewed more than 50 officers and enlisted men who served with Charlie Company, including the surviving platoon leaders and both of the company’s commanders. (One of the platoon leaders, Lt Jack Benedick, lost both of his legs, but went on to become a champion skier.) In addition, he interviewed 15 family members of Charlie Company veterans, including wives, children, parents, and siblings. Wiest also had access to personal papers, collections of letters, a diary, an abundance of newspaper clippings, training notebooks, field manuals, condolence letters, and photographs from before, during, and after the conflict.
As Wiest shows, the fighting that Charlie Company saw in 1967 was nearly as bloody as many of the better publicized battles, including the infamous ‘Ia Drang’ and ‘Hamburger Hill.’ As a result, many of the surviving members of Charlie Company came home with what the military now recognizes as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder—a diagnosis that was not recognized until the late 1970s and was not widely treated until the 1980s. Only recently, after more than 40 years, have many members of Charlie Company achieved any real and sustained relief from their suffering.
About the Author
Andrew Wiest, Ph.D. is Professor of History at the University of Southern Mississippi. Also the founding director of the Center for the Study of War and Society, Wiest was born in Chicago, but raised in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. After attending the University of Southern Mississippi for his undergraduate and Master's degrees, Dr. Wiest went on to receive his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Chicago in 1990. Specializing in the study of World War I and Vietnam, Dr. Wiest has served as a Visiting Senior Lecturer at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst in the United Kingdom and as a Visiting Professor in the Department of Warfighting Strategy in the United States Air Force Air War College. Since 1992 Dr. Wiest has been active in international education, leading a study abroad program on World War II to London and Normandy each summer, and developing the award-winning Vietnam Study Abroad Program. Dr. Wiest has published 14 books on various topics in the field of Military History, including Vietnam’s Forgotten Army: Heroism and Betrayal in the ARVN (New York University Press), which won the Society for Military History’s Distinguished Book Award; America and the Vietnam War (Routledge Press); Rolling Thunder in a Gentle Land (Osprey Press); and Passchendaele and the Royal Navy (Greenwood Press). Additionally Dr. Wiest has appeared in and consulted on several historical documentaries for the History Channel, Granada Television, PBS, the BBC, and for Lucasfilm. Dr. Wiest lives in Hattiesburg with his wife Jill and their three children Abigail, Luke and Wyatt.
Praise for The Boys of '67: Charlie Company's War in Vietnam…
“Thoughtful and richly detailed, this outstanding account of the early phase of the War in Vietnam takes us into the forbidding Mekong River Delta with the men of Charlie Company, to witness their harrowing firefights and their fleeting victories, to appreciate the singular combat experience haunting their dreams and those of their country.”
—Hugh Ambrose, Author of The Pacific
“A powerful account of conflict, Andy Wiest’s The Boys of ’67 provides what is all-too-rare, a ‘face of battle’ account that is at once scholarly and well-written, perceptive and engaging.”
—Jeremy Black, author of War since 1945
“The Boys of 67 is an exceptionally well researched and well told story of an exceptional US Army infantry company in Vietnam. Andrew Wiest sheds light and understanding on the human and psychological dimension of war and the aftermath of war. It is a story of courage, comradeship, tribulation, suffering, and perseverance.”
—Brigadier General H. R. McMaster, author of Dereliction of Duty
“The Boys of'67 follows a single infantry company in a single year of the Vietnam War . It ia a story of men who routinely put their lives into each others' hands. It is a story of fear and heroism; of waste, confusion, boredom--and their impact on those who return home. Wiest's empathy and perception make the book as emotionally compelling as it is intellectually penetrating, impossible to read with a detached mind or dry eyes.”
—Dennis Showalter, author of Hitler’s Panzers
“This is a story of men at war in the tradition of A Band of Brothers. It is a remarkable book written by a master storyteller and meticulous historian. I cannot recommend it strongly enough, particularly for fellow Vietnam veterans and their families, military historians, and anyone interested in what American soldiers went through in the Vietnam War.”
—James H. Willbanks, PhD, is a Vietnam veteran and author of Abandoning Vietnam and The Battle of An Loc
"This book is a superb story of a U.S. Army company in combat. As with Marine Lt. Phil Caputo's memoir, A Rumor of War, The Boys of '67 is simply a story about war, the things men do in war and the things war does to them. The saga of the American soldier remains an important story that deserves to be told. Readers are in Wiest's dept for making Charlie Company's story accessible to the American Public."
--COL Cole C. Kingseed, Army Magazine
"...Wiest concentrates on the human side of the conflict ... [he] spent three years interviewing sixty-one officers and men of Charlie Company, 4th Battalion, 47th Infantry. He tells their stories well and emphatically..."
--Marc Leepson, Vietnam Veterans of America (September/October 2012)
"This is a compelling and intimate look at one unit's wartime experience, filled with loss, excitement, humor, and pain that readers of wartime memoirs will especially want to share."
--Library Journal (October 15, 2012)
"This intimate, hardback book is illustrated with 25 color and 10 black and white illustrations. Its publication coincides with the 45th anniversary of Charlie Company’s tour of duty in Vietnam. The Boys of ’67 delivers the unvarnished truth about the men’s experiences from the chaos of combat to the challenges they have faced reintegrating into society."
--Toy Soldier & Model Figure (January 2013)
"Vietnam has been the subject of countless books: this is one of the best. Exhaustively researched and expertly written, it allows us a glimpse of the intense bonds of comradeship forged by soldiers in the white heat of combat."
--Saul David, BBC History Magazine (January 2013)
"...a powerful Vietnam testimony that's a 'must' for any military collection!"
- James A. Cox, The Midwest Book Review
"Wiest’s use of personal interviews and letters home put a personal touch on the book. I felt a growing sense of attachment to the men of Charlie Company as the book progressed, felt a sense of their heartache when their brothers died, and I sympathized for many of them who struggled with PTSD following the war. Wiest addresses the ugliness and humanity of war, but also the loving bonds that are created between men who experience war together and the indelible marks it leaves on their minds."
--Abigail Pfeiffer, Armchair General
“In the final analysis, this book is a superb story of a US Army company in combat... The Boys of ‘67 is simply a story about war, the things men do in war and the things war does to them. The saga of the American soldier remains an important story that deserves to be told. Readers are in Wiest’s debt for making Charlie Company’s story accessible to the American public.”
--Col. Cole C. Kingseed, USA Ret.