“Soldiers of a Foreign War” presents the Vietnam War in all its conflicted complexity. It is told from the enlisted soldiers’ perspective and deals with the American and Vietnamese’s, North and South, all teenagers, experiences as they leave their families and enter their countries’ respective armies.
The story lines follow two American infantry platoons led by sergeants Cado and Eldridge, a three-man NVA combat cell comprised of Chi, Duan and Thuy and Sp. Steve Aiken a medic in the surgical hospital. The action takes place in six months during 1969-70, in War Zone C, northwest of Saigon.
The novel is unique in its descriptions of the wounded and their fates. Most war novels will say, “Joe got hit and was evac’d to the hospital.” Charles McHair’s book tells exactly what happened when Joe got to the hospital. The variety of destructive wounds required immediate surgeries. That was the function of the surgical hospital but the toll taken on the staff has not been told to the extent that this novel does.
The author was nineteen when he enlisted in the medical corps and was sent to Vietnam as an operating room technician. He spent the year at the 45th Surgical Hospital, Tay Ninh, RVN. After discharge in 1971, he returned to college, went to medical school and raised a family while practicing medicine for thirty-five years. He began writing in 1971, and finished in 2015. He is now retired and living in Connecticut.
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