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Ed Gilbert is known for his USMC books, and this one for Osprey is a
worthy addition to any library. He covers the Vietnam service of three
fictional USMC tankers, from enlistment and training through to combat,
in exemplary style. The combats described, and the other tankers met in
the text, are not fiction.
We start with a brief introduction and chronology to Marine service in Vietnam. Then we meet our three characters, with accounts of their backgrounds and how they came to enlist as well as of their training first as basic grunts and then as tank crewmen. Next is a chapter on the Corps’ fighting tradition and how it was communicated to recruits, followed by one on uniforms with some very useful comments on active service dress in Vietnam. Everyday life in Vietnam comes next, from the Danang depot to life in a tank company. We get an exceptional insight into what it was like to serve with the tanks on bridge guard, convoy escort, the reaction platoon and search and destroy operations. The final chapter is on the Tet Offensive, with emphasis on the fighting in Hue.
Although our fictional characters are injected into the several combat sections they are all wholly realistic, with the incidents based upon ones that really happened. If you want to know what it was like to be in a Patton penetrated by RPG fire, the answer’s here. There’s also a helpful glossary for readers who aren’t familiar with terms like RPG, amtrac, etc. The plates are good, and accompanied by a very good selection of photographs; both plates and photos have excellent captions.
Very highly recommended, both as a history of USMC tank operations in Vietnam and as giving all the information a modeller could want to produce accurate crewmen for USMC tankers in country.