A reader pointed out to me that my statement yesterday that the character of Ben, the son of the protagonist of Last of the Annamese, died in combat is inaccurate. As his father, Chuck, learns late in the novel, another American soldier killed Ben. I allowed that inaccuracy for the sake of brevity. My apologies. Here’s what Chuck is told by the officer who was Ben’s commander:
The smile vanished. Carver bared his teeth. “Big-ass gunjy Marine, right? Balls of brass. Yeah, I checked you out before I left the states. Okay, asshole. You want it gory? I’ll give it to you gory.” Carver paused long enough to slurp his drink. “A kid named Kerney killed your son. Multiple tracer rounds from his M-60 machine gun went into cans of gasoline strapped onto the jeep your son was driving. Jeep blew up. At the inquest, Kerney said he thought the VC had penetrated the perimeter and were attacking, killed your kid by mistake. He told me privately that Ben had come on to him for sex. That changed things. The army’s not big on coddling queers. Kerney wasn’t indicted.”
Chuck closed his eyes.
“’Course, reports of casualties from friendly fire get leaked to the press,” Carver said, “and if the homo angle had come to light, that could have hurt Kerney’s chances for promotion and made the U.S. Army look bad. So I reported it as a KIA. Honorable shit. You know the drill.”
End of quote. The full story of Ben’s death is never told in Last of the Annamese. It was irrelevant to the broader story line. But I did give all the details in a short story named “Trip Wires,” which was one of the inspirations for Annamese. In that story, the reader learns that Kerney was sexually attracted to Ben, not the other way around.