Days of Valor

An Inside Account of the Bloodiest Six Months of the Vietnam War

Robert L. Tonsetic

 
Date Published :
January 2007
Publisher :
Casemate
Language:
English
Illustration :
16 pages b/w photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Paperback
ISBN : 9781935149385
Pages : 320
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
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+
Available
$22.95

Overview
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A nonstop maelstrom of combat action, leaving the reader nearly breathless by the end. The human courage and carnage described in these pages resonates through the centuries, from Borodino to the Bulge, but the focus here is on the Vietnam War, and a unique unit formed to take part at its height.

The 199th Light Infantry Brigade was created from three U.S. infantry battalions of long lineage, as a fast reaction force for the U.S. to place in Indochina. As the book begins, in December 1967, the brigade has been in Vietnam for a year, and many of its battered 12-month men are returning home. This is timely, as the Communists seem to be in a lull, and the brigade commander, in order to whet his new soldiers to combat, requests a transfer to a more active sector, just above Saigon. Through January the battalions scour the sector, finding increasing enemy strength, NVA personel now mixed within Viet Cong units. But the enemy is lying low, and a truce has even been declared for the Vietnamese New Year, the holiday called Tet.

On January 30, 1968, the storm breaks loose, as Saigon and nearly every provincial capital in the country is overrun by VC and NVA, bursting in unexpected strength from their base camps. In these battles we learn the most intimate details of combat, as the Communists fight with rockets, mortars, Chinese claymores, mines, machine guns and AK-47s. The battles evolve into an enemy favoring the cloak of night, the jungle—both urban and natural—and subterranean fortifications, against U.S. forces favoring direct confrontational battle supported by air and artillery. When the lines are only 25 yards apart, however, there is little way to distinguish between the firepower or courage of the assailants and the defenders, or even who is who at any given moment, as both sides have the other in direct sight.
Many of the vividly described figures in this book do not make it to the end. The narrative is jarring, because even though the author was a company commander during these battles, he has based this work upon objective research including countless interviews with other soldiers of the 199th LIB. The result is that everything we once heard about Vietnam is laid bare in this book through actual experience, as U.S. troops go head-to-head at close-range against their counterparts, perhaps the most stubborn foe in our history.

Days of Valor covers the height of the Vietnam War, from the nervous period just before Tet, through the defeat of that offensive, to the highly underwritten yet equally bloody NVA counteroffensive launched in May 1968.

The book ends with a brief note about the 199th LIB being deactivated in spring 1970, furling its colors after suffering 753 dead and some 5,000 wounded. The brigade had only been a temporary creation, designed for one purpose. Though its heroism is now a matter of history, it should remain a source of pride for all Americans. This fascinating book will help to remind us.

About The Author
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Robert Tonsetic was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a BA in English Literature in 1964. Upon graduation, he entered the US Army as an infantry second lieutenant. After completing Special Forces training in 1966, he served a tour in Thailand with the 46th Special Forces Company. He was subsequently assigned to the 199th Light Infantry Brigade in Vietnam, serving as a rifle company commander during the Tet and May Offensives of 1968. In 1970, he returned to Vietnam as a senior advisor to South Vietnamese Ranger and Airborne battalions. His decorations for his wartime service include the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, and the Bronze Star for Valor. He retired from the Army at the rank of Colonel in 1991, after completing a three year assignment as a faculty member at the NATO Defense College in Rome, Italy. Upon his return to the US, Robert earned a Doctorate in Education, and was employed at the University of Central Florida as a staff member and adjunct professor. He passed in April 2016 in Easton, MD.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Preface
Glossary

Prologue
Chapter 1 What Came Before
Chapter 2 Across the Song Dong Nai
Chapter 3 The Bloodiest Day
Chapter 4 Victory at Night
Chapter 5 The Enemy Lies Low
Chapter 6 The Gathering Storm
Chapter 7 A Battle Joined
Chapter 8 Fighting on All Sides
Chapter 9 Assault on Saigon
Chapter 10 A Day at the Races
Chapter 11 Night of Fire
Chapter 12 Cottonbaler Hot LZ
Chapter 13 To Snare a General
Chapter 14 April 1968—A Cruel Month
Chapter 15 The May Offensive
Chapter 16 The Old Guard Holds On
Epilogue

Notes
Sources

REVIEWS
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"… a spell binding account of the 199th Light Infantry Brigade's actions surrounding the Tet Offensive… an excellent memorial to the exploits of this fighting unit."

- Collected Miscellany

“... this book has no other purpose other than to disclose the valor and sacrifice of those who fought during this period. … This book took me by surprise. I had begun the task to review a log of war, to gain new admiration of valor and courage. In the end, not only had I gained a renewed appreciation of courage and valor, but more importantly I had to come face to face with the enormity of loss and grief that is forever imposed on our soldiers. This book is a path to share that cost. “

- E Fennel

"... Tonsetic's account is a panegyric to the soldiers he served with rather than an attempt at a general history...the work is primarily about his own experiences and those of the people around him, collected from the personal recollections of participants and contemporary after-action reports. ..of interest to subject collections."

- Library Journal

"…will resonate with veterans, especially grunts who served anywhere in Vietnam….offers historical insights for today…a worthy memorial."

- Vietnam Magazine

"Tonsetic, who commanded an infantry company, relies heavily first person infantrymen to paint a picture of almost non-stop combat action…"

- The VVA Veteran

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