Tag Archives: Vietnam War

Play ball with me

Hail Storme

by W.I. Ripley

A NetGalley Review

The characters just rip up a storm in this book – literally and figuratively – all puns intended..

This is the first book in the Storme series and as such introduces you to the characters of Wyatt Storme and here, his mysterious buddy Chick, who claims to be just a skip tracer but turns out to be something more, and really has such useful skills I hope he stays for the rest of the series.

As the first novel in a series it is set not that long after the Vietnam War or Second Indochina War, 1954–1973 (or what did the US call it? They certainly didn’t admit that their soldiers were at war – just supporting or advising?). In any event it left significant numbers of Vets as they began to be called traumatised and with PTSD – often unrecognised – which left them liable to nightmares and flashbacks that hindered their ability to maintain a successful life outside the military after returning home. This fact is still not always admitted.

Over 20 years, more than 58,000 Americans were killed in Vietnam and more than 150,000 were wounded. Yet the US were not the only troops fighting – we hear little about the Australians, the New Zealanders and the South Koreans who also fought.

Public opinion was initially in favour of the intervention and thus the majority of those fighting volunteered rather than were drafted and this included those in minority races as well as white Americans.

Here are some facts – not too many though:

  • 9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the official Vietnam era from August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975.
  • 2,709,918 Americans served in uniform in Vietnam.
  • Vietnam Veterans represented 9.7% of their generation.
  • 8,148 soldiers were killed in Vietnam.
    • 75,000 were severely disabled.
    • 23,214 were 100% disabled.
    • 5,283 lost limbs.
    • 1,081 sustained multiple amputations.
    • Of those killed, 61% were younger than 21.
    • 11,465 of those killed were younger than 20 years old.
    • Of those killed, 17,539 were married.
    • Average age of men killed: 23.1 years.
    • Five men killed in Vietnam were only 16 years old.
    • The oldest man killed was 62 years old.
    • As of January 15, 2004, there are 1,875 Americans still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.

So Wyatt Storme came back from the war and made a career in American Football which seems to be a very rough sport indeed from the tactics her learnt to subdue opponents. but the violence on the field became too comfortable and led to a lifestyle that is all too common amongst the rich and famous. Eventually however, he realises that his football tactics are emulating his fighting in the Vietnam War tactics far too freely and gives up his career – with the usual footballer injuries of course.

He is still full of testosterone and chivalry it seems and can’t let a wrong go un-righted and so gets involved where others would not in a local dispute that ends up with people dying. “People talk about what they want and who they are: few are concerned with duty and responsibility – the things we must do to be what we are.”

I did enjoy this book and read it very quickly – within 24 hours as the style is easy and uncomplicated and you did want to find out just what was going on and who was involved and who was the goody and who the baddy – and this seemed to change as you read on.

I did bookmark the stuff about male clothes in this book as there seemed to be a fascination with what people wore: oxblood loafers came up several times – which seems to be a shade of red that is popular; not sure why Haggar slacks/pants are mentioned as they are a style of trouser that is very casual and rather baggy but add in the oxford cloth shirt and you have a preppy style that is very popular in the US. Florsheim shoes are also still available and again a very classic look.

London Fog raincoats – or trench coats are not sold in the UK but seem again to be a very traditional style. It is interesting that although this book was first published in 1993, the clothing ranges are still current – in the US, I doubt if they would be in the UK. Now I just was fascinated by Gglen plaidlen Plaid and so found myself a photo of it:

Not forgetting that the Rep or Repp tie is again a preppy essential – the diagonal striped tie.rep tie


Dead and Vietnamese: Pad Thai anyone?

The Vietnamese War left a sad legacy in the number of children born to Vietnamese mothers and GI soldiers. These children are commonly despised by those of full Vietnamese blood. They are commonly called Bui-Doi, or ‘dust of life’. According to Wikipedia

“Amerasians are predominantly seen as off-spring of GI fathers and prostitute mothers. Life was frequently difficult for such Amerasians; they existed as pariahs in Vietnamese society. Often, they would be persecuted by the communist government and sometimes even sold into prostitution as children. Under the Amerasian Homecoming Act of 1988, a Vietnamese Amerasian could obtain a U.S. visa on the basis of appearance alone. Amerasians gained the attention of con artists who claimed to be their relatives in the hope of obtaining visas.  About 23,000 Amerasians immigrated to the U.S. under this act.

In the United States, bui doi, or the term “dust of life”, again referred to the criminal class, where the youths included newly transplanted Vietnamese and Amerasians.  The misuse of the word bui doi also migrated to the United States and was appropriated by the mainstream.”

So we see that being a Bui Doi in the Vietnamese society is not good, neither it would seem is being Vietnamese in the police. I managed to find some statistics for the UK police referring to the ethnic make-up of the police force. We still see quite a lot of prejudice against the ethnic races going into the police coming from both sides. Frm the figures I found for 2012 there were 6,679 people belonging to BME races in the whole of the UK. This figure represents 5% of the total police force. Only 3.7% of the Chief Inspectors were of BME race, and only 5.4% of the Constables were. Overall the ethnic make-up of the BME ethnicities were:

39.1% Asian/Asian British

21.3%  Black/Black British;

28.1% Mixed race

11.5% Chinese or other.

minority officers

Thus even within the BME races, Chinese and Vietnamese are very poorly represented. This is not helpful as the Vietnamese and the Chinese are traditionally a very self-sufficient community that turn their faces inwards against ‘others’, even to the point of trying to

This difficulty is central to the story of the book ‘Caught Dead’ by Andrew Lanh, who of course is of the right ethnic origin to write about this topic. The issues which an ethnic officer faces from both societies when a crime is committed within the Vietnamese community.

I did find this a difficult book to read as I have difficulty in understanding the culture although I can well understand why the society circles the wagons against outsiders. They feel that they have been betrayed too often and are poorly understood within the police forces. But my lack of cultural understanding meant that I missed some of the nuances and made it difficult for me to judge how well the issues were represented here. With the right audience I would give this book 3 stars but I wouldn’t read further myself.