I am a reference and history librarian at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. I have a strong interest in the Vietnam War. This goes back to when I turned 18, joined the Marine Corps, and went to Vietnam. Older and wiser now, my interest in Vietnam has continued. This webpage has my Vietnam-related articles and book chapters.
Comments or questions? Send to me.
Education: MA (history), SUNY at Plattsburgh NY
MLIS, University of Kentucky.
"'Home is Where You Dig It' (Observations on Life at the Khe Sanh Combat Base)," in Viet Nam Generation, Vol. 4:3-4, 1992, pp. 94-98. My first article. This war story isn't about how I killed 17 Viet Cong with my bayonet while saving my best buddy's life. It's about rats.
"Civic Action: The Marine Corps Experience in Vietnam," in Viet Nam Generation, Vol. 5:1-4, 1994, pp. 127-132. Civic action is the application of non-traditional military force; roadbuilding and police work, not infantry and artillery. The Marine Corps has a long history of civic action.
"The Khe Sanh Veterans Reunion," in Viet Nam Generation, Vol. 5:1-4, 1994, pp. 53-56. These reunions are held yearly. I don't attend very often, but this one (1993) was a great experience for me.
"The Helicopter Road to Vietnam," in Viet Nam Generation, Vol. 6:34, 1995, pp. 77-80. Today helicopters are a fundamental component of the American way of waging war war. This article describes how helicopters became so important to our military.
"The Story Behind the McNamara Line." An edited version appeared in Vietnam, February, 1996, pp. 18-24. The McNamara Line was a high-tech barrier built by the U.S. in Vietnam Laos in an attempt to stop infiltration by Communist forces from North Vietnam into South Vietnam.
"The Vietnamese Marine Corps," in Viet Nam Generation, Vol 7:1-2, 1996, pp. 73-77. Mostly, the South Vietnamese armed forces did not have a good reputation. Their Marine Corps, modeled on ours, was an exception.
"The 109th Quartermaster Company (Air Delivery) and the Defense of Khe Sanh." An edited version of this article was published as "The Joint Effort that Broke the Khe Sanh Siege," in Army, Vol. 47, No. 5, April 1997, pp. 44-48. Describes the efforts by the Army to provide the Marines at Khe Sanh with air drops of food and other supplies.
"Big Guns of Camp Carroll," in Vietnam, August, 1997, pp. 26-32. Article discusses U.S. artillery doctrine in Vietnam in general, and the history of this important Marine artillery base. Camp Carroll was the first place I was stationed in Vietnam.
"The Withdrawal from Khe Sanh," The History Net [online], August, 1997
[http://www.thehistorynet.com/vn/blwithdrawalfromkhesanh/]. Describes how the Marine base at Khe Sanh, previuosly described as critically important, was quietly abandoned.
"The Unexploited Vulnerability of the Marines at Khe Sanh." An edited version of this article was published as "Perspectives -- Khe Sanh Could Have Been Another Dien Bien Phu if the NVA Had Cut Off the Marines' Water Supply" in Vietnam, August, 1997, pp.58-60.
"Another faraway war got a different response at VU," in Vanderbilt Register, May 3-9, 1999, p. 3. http://www.vanderbilt.edu/News/register/May3_99/commentary.htm. A look at anti-war protest at Vanderbilt University during the Vietnam War.
"Uncommon Ground: Interservice Rivalry in I Corps" in Vietnam, Vol. 12, No. 3, October, 1999, pp. 22-28. In addition to fighting the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army, the U.S. Marine Corps also had a fight on its hands with the U.S. Army and Air Force.
"Aerial Lifeline to Khe Sanh," in Vietnam, Vol. 12, No. 4, December, 1999; pp. 30-37. The 1968 seige of Khe Sanh the longest and most bitterly contested battle of the war. Aerial supply was crucial to the defense of Khe Sanh. The US Army played a vital role.
"Operation Niagara." An edited version of this article appeared on Vietnam magazine's website, The History Net (www.thehistorynet.com) in December, 1999. Operation Niagara at Khe Sanh has been called the biggest bombing campaign in the history of aerial warfare.
"Reassessing the Viet Cong Role after Tet." An edited version of this article appeared in Vietnam, Vol. 14, No. 5, February, 2002, pp. 34-43, 64. The first editor of this magazine rejected my article on this topic. The next editor, General David Zabecki, agreed to publish it.
"Dissing Vietnam" in Viet Nam War Generation Journal, Vol. 1, No. 4, April 2002, pp. 59-74. During the war the United States frequently described their enemy in demonic terms. Yet when compared to certain aspects of US history, the Vietnamese Communists appeared more rational in their behavior.
"The Ontos."An edited version of this article appeared in Vietnam, Vol. 15, No. 3, October 2002, pp. 10-14. Ontos was a Marine Corps anti-tank weapon. Although it was never used as designed, Ontos did see wide service in Vietnam.
"Higher and Higher: American Drug Use in Vietnam." An edited version of this article appeared in Vietnam, Vol.15, No. 4, December 2002, pp. 46-53, 70. Especially in the later years, the U.S. military forces in Vietnam had a serious drug problem.
"What Really Happened at Cam Ne?"An edited version of this article appeared in Vietnam, Vol.16, No. 2, August 2003, pp. 28-33. Morley Safer's television report on Cam Ne was the first big atrocity story of the Vietnam War.
"Dr. Tom Dooley." An edited version of this article appeared in Vietnam, Vol.17, No. 2, August 2004, p. 16, 64-65. In addition to being a national hero, Dooley was also a key instrument in the government's propaganda campaign against Communism.
'The Plight of "Elephant" : Laotian Army Battalion BV-33 and the first Use of Armor in the Indochina War.' An edited version of this article appeared in Vietnam, Vol. 17, No. 5, February 2005, pp. 29-32. The luck of this Laotian army unit was about as bad as it gets.
"The Buddhist Crisis in Vietnam." An edited version of this article appeared in Vietnam, Vol. 17, No. 6, April 2005, pp. 18-24. The 1966 clash between Buddhists in Central Vietnam and the Saigon government found the U.S. Marine Corps in the middle of the fighting.
"Hating Jane: The American Military and Jane Fonda." Everyone makes mistakes, but Vietnam veterans won't forgive Jane Fonda for hers. An edited version of this article appeared in Vietnam, Vol. 18, No. 6, April 2006, p. 10, 54.
"Recounting the Casualties at Khe Sanh." An edited version of this article appeared in Vietnam, Vol. 20, No. 1, June 2007, pp. 28-37. Khe Sanh was the most important battle of the war. The US claimed victory at Khe Sanh based on a favorable body count kill ratio. But since a close examination of actual American casualties shows they were underreported by a factor of five, the claim of victory is hard to sustain.
“Rise and Fall of the Dragon Lady." This biographical article of Madame Nhu appeared in Vietnam, Vol. 22, No. 3, October, 2009, pp. 32.37. "Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu's venom and vengeance set the stage for diaster and quagmire."
"Fragging in Vietnam." An edited version of this article appeared in Vietnam, Vol. 23, No. 3, October 2010, pp. 40-43. Fragging was the act of intentionally attacking a superior officer or NCO with a fragmentation grenade. Edited version available online via The HistoryNet.com with title "The Hard Truth About Fragging."
"Vietnam, China, and the Boat People." This article is about the thousands of refugees who fled Vietnam following the 1975 victory by the Vietnamese Communists and the fall South Vietnam.
"Karl Marlantes and the Vietnam War." Marlantes is the best-selling author of Matterhorn: a Novel of the Vietnam War and What It Is Like to Go To War, which is both a personal narrative and a commentary of the effect of combat on those who participate in it. My essay looks at Marlantes' service and his books in the context of the war in which he served.
"Major George Quamo, SOG, and Khe Sanh." Quamo was one of the most interesting people associated with the Vietnam War. He made major at age 27, was considered a "Lawrence of Arabia" by his peers, spoke Vietnamese, underwent Ranger training, won a Silver Star, and served with a Special Forces special operations unit. This article was published in Red Clay, newsletter of the Khe Sanh Veterans Association, Issue 75, Spring 2013, which is not available online.
Back to top
"The Battle of Khe Sanh, 1968," in The Tet Offensive, Marc J. Gilbert and William Head, eds., Westport, CT: Praeger, 1996, ch. 12, pp. 191-213. This battle is bursting with superlatives: the longest, most expensive, most controversial, and deadliest battle of the war. If you want more than an encyclopedia article, but less than a book, this article covers the background, build-up of forces, strategy and tactics of both sides, and conclusion. It contains 67 footnotes to sources, which provide a good bibliography for additional research.
"The War's 'Constructive Component,'" in Vietnam, a Reader, David Zabecki, editor, New York : ibooks ; London : Simon & Schuster, 2002, pp. 85-96. History of the Marine Corps' civic action efforts in Vietnam.
"The Significance of Local Communist Forces in Post-Tet Vietnam" in Military Aspects of the Vietnam Conflict (New York: Garland), 2000, pp. 193-204. This is volume 2 of the series The United States and the Vietnam War : Significant Scholarly Articles, Walter L. Hixson, series editor. The article was also published in Journal of Third World Studies, Vol. 15, No. 2, Fall, 1998, pp. 67-78. In a previous article I wrote for Vietnam magazine (see preceeding entry), the magazine's editor said it was a valuable contribution even though my conclusion ignored "last seven years of the war during which guerrillas played an insignificant part . . . ." To defend myself I wrote another article describing how the Viet Cong did indeed play a significant role in the later years of the war. The editor, Col. Harry Summers, Jr., refused to publish this second article, so I sent it to JTWS, who did. I was quite pleased when Hixson included it in his series of significant scholarly articles.
Back to top