For the next thirteen years, I spent more time in Vietnam than I did in the U.S. My job until 1973 was supporting troops on the battlefield with information about the North Vietnamese gleaned from intercepting their radio communications. After U.S. troops were withdrawn from Vietnam in 1973, I headed the clandestine NSA operation there and escaped from Saigon under fire after the North Vietnamese were already in the streets.
Because I was so good at what I did and I was willing to risk working next to soldiers in combat, I was promoted rapidly. The same was true after the fall of Saigon when I did similar work in places other than Vietnam. Before I knew it, I had advanced into the executive ranks. Because I insisted on leading rather than managing—that is, uplifting my subordinates and urging them to be the best they could be rather than controlling them—I was phenomenally successful and rose to the top of the executive ranks. I retired as early as I could to write full time. I now have six books and seventeen short stories published.
My third area of good luck is that I was never wounded in combat. More times than I can count, men fighting next to me were killed. More than once, I was among the handful of survivors in a battle gone wrong. And more often than not, I had close calls. But somehow, enemy bullets, hand grenades, and bayonets sometimes grazed me but never took me down.
More next time.