On both walls beside the stairs leading into my office in the lowest floor of my split-level house in Columbia, Maryland, are award plaques. There are 21 of them, mostly prizes my books have won, but also for my volunteer work over many years. Two books have received the most awards. They are Last of the Annamese (Naval Institute Press, 2017), set during the fall of Saigon which I escaped under fire after the North Vietnamese were already in the streets of the city; and No-Accounts (Apprentice House, 2014), inspired by my volunteer work with dying AIDS patients in the 1980s. Needless to say, I am proud of these tokens of my achievements.
But there is another wall displaying my most cherished awards. It is in my dining room. On it are five plaques, one each for my being named to the national Who’s Who, the worldwide Who’s Who, the list of Top Professionals (for my writing), Professional of the Year 2022, and the guy who saved lives. The last plaque, the one I treasure most and the subject of a recent blog, was given to me by my 43 guys and their families whose lives I saved by risking my own to get them safely out of Saigon when it was falling in 1975.
I am immensely and I think justifiably proud of my awards. They reflect the causes to which I have devoted my life. As I grow old, I can look back with satisfaction on a life devoted to my art (writing) and to the welfare of those I have been responsible for.