A riveting memoir of one marine rifleman's journey from Parris Island through the hell of Vietnam and the Tet Offensive with the Second Battalion, Fourth Marines.
In 1967, a young E. Michael Helms boarded a bus to the legendary grounds of Parris Island, where mere boys were forged into hardened Marines—and sent to the jungles of Vietnam. It was the first stop on a journey that would forever change him—and by its end, he would be awarded the Purple Heart Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Citation, and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry.
From the brutality and endurance-straining ordeals of boot camp to the endless horror of combat, Helms paints a vivid, unflinchingly realistic depiction of the lives of Marines in training and under fire. As powerful and compelling a battlefield memoir as any ever written, Helms's “grunt's-eye” view of the Vietnam War, the men who fought it, and the mindless chaos that surrounded it, is truly a modern military classic.
E. Michael Helms turned down a chance to play college baseball and joined the United States Marine Corps after high school graduation. As a rifleman with the Second Battalion, Fourth Marines (The Magnificent Bastards), he was involved in some of the heaviest fighting of the Vietnam War, including the Tet Offensive of 1968. For his service, Helms was awarded the Purple Heart Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Citation, and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, and was honorably discharged in 1969.