Thursday, September 9, 2010

Flying Death – The Vietnam Experience by Samuel K. Beamon

I will take a step back from my usual genre of interest-speculative fiction, and review the memoir "Flying Death- The Vietnam Experience" by Samuel K. Beamon. The author is a family friend, who has written an exceptional book about his experiences as a Marine in Vietnam. Samuel K. Beamon writes about joining the Marines, boot camp, his training as a helicopter mechanic and his combat experiences in Vietnam. He was a helicopter HMM-164 Crew Chief, responsible for the safety of the crew with a wrench or with a gun…sometimes both. One minute he is tinkering with the engines, hydraulics and cables to make sure the helicopter is flying smoothly and the next minute he is manning the machine guns spraying a path of death and destruction in a hot landing zone for the pilots to land.
This is not a typical "I went to war, I saw the bad guys, I did some bad things, now I'm a better person" memoir. Nor is it a how I applied new strategies of war type of memoir. No, it's better than that. It is a deep, soulful look at a proud Marine doing his job for the love of his country. Sam beautifully walks the reader through his emotions from the time he decided to join the Marines until he left the Marines, capped with memorable highlights from his squadron's reunion in Washington DC. You can feel the strings tugging at your heart when Sam describes the death of friends and colleagues. You understand the excitement and pride he felt about being a Marine, fighting for his country that he loves so much. You experience the fear and adrenaline associated with combat. But you also catch the anger pounding in your chest as you read about the disservice and indignity Sam suffers through just to be a good Marine.
War is tough, but for a teenager straight out of high school, spending 18 months at the height of the Vietnam War must have been hell. As a B-52 crewmember, I take my hat off to Sam Beamon and all the Vietnam Vets. Your blood and sacrifice paved the way for me and others, and I thank you sir.
I highly recommend this book as a must read, not only for the military buff or the war enthusiast; but for those looking for a story on how the human spirit can triumph over the most extreme obstacles.

Malcolm "RAGE" Petteway, Author
Owner, Rage Books LLC