I’ve written several times in this blog about corpsmen I encountered in Vietnam and the two former corpsmen I met recently. One of the two, Dennis Noah, recommended that I read Lucia Viti’s Dr. Tom’s War: A Daughter’s Journey (Rogue Books, 2011). I’m now in the middle of it. This is a book I want everyone to read. It speaks unflinchingly about the grim and grisly truth of combat.
The book is Ms. Viti’s paean to her father, a navy doctor who cared for wounded Marines in Vietnam. Dr. Tom (Gaetano) Viti was courageous, funny, and creative. He took great risks to his own safety to help the Marines operating out of An Hoa in the central section of Vietnam. He and his corpsmen were greatly admired for their devotion and bravery.
One of the aspects that makes the book so gripping is that it is almost entirely in the words of the Marines who were engaged in combat and the corpsmen who struggled to save the lives of the wounded. These men make no effort to pretty up the brutality of combat. They tell it like it really was.
And that’s one of the major reasons I hope the book will be widely read. As I’ve stressed before, I want people to know how gruesome combat is. I want Americans, as a people, to understand the ghastliness of war before they commit to it.
I’ll have more to say about corpsmen, Ms. Viti’s book, and my own involvement in days to come.