Billups’ book is a stunning piece of writing that will likely take its place as one of the best Vietnam memoirs ever written. Here, he draws a comparison between Hollywood movies and his on-the-ground experiences.
WILMINGTON, NC, July 28, 2022 /24-7PressRelease/ — The Vietnam War has been the subject of a large number of mega-hit Hollywood movies. One of those movies is “Platoon”. According to Wikipedia, the movie “is a 1986 American war film written and directed by Oliver Stone, starring Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen, Keith David, Kevin Dillon, John C. McGinley, Forest Whitaker, and Johnny Depp. It is the first film of a trilogy of Vietnam War films directed by Stone, followed by Born on the Fourth of July (1989) and Heaven & Earth (1993)”.
The movie has been described as “pulse-pounding” and “heart-wrenching”. No small wonder, as the film features an all-star cast and was directed by the legendary Stone himself. But we must ask, “Does the movie accurately portray what the Vietnam War was really like?” In some ways, yes. But in others, no.
That said, we must understand that such an experience defies description, and is beyond the ability of film to adequately convey. Even given the best of portrayals, the staggering toll taken on both mind and body due to the ever-present anxiety, hellish stress levels and the insufferable terror of having one’s life on the line, second by second, 24-7, for month after month, remain incomprehensible to the rest of us. Books do a better job perhaps, as they allow us to experience not only actions, but also the feelings of those performing those actions.
Jack Billups, author of the bestselling Vietnam War memoir, “My Vietnam”, recently offered some insight regarding what the Vietnam War was really like, as compared to versions that has been portrayed on the big screen.
“Chris, (Charlie Sheen) is a young man who volunteered like me for the same reasons, as noted in my book. His grandfather served in WW1 and his father in WW2.
“The scenes at the beginning and the end of the movie, when Chris was thinking to himself, were spot on. At the end he was flying out of the field to return home. His thoughts were, ‘the war is over now, but it will always be there the rest of my life. For those of us who did make it have an obligation to build again, to teach others what we know. And to try, with what’s left of our lives, to find a goodness and meaning to this life.’
“This is exactly what I believe I accomplished in writing my book.
“The movie portrayed well the misery the jungle hosted. The heat, rain, bugs and creatures; this was not exaggerated as it added to the frustration and insanity.
“The firefights were fairly accurate, however, the killing of the village people and burning down of their homes was definitely the exception and not the rule.
“The way the leaders treated those under them was unrealistic, as detailed in the book. Mutual respect was more the case regardless of rank. There were arguments at times, but the bullying of new guys and going as far as killing a fellow soldier is unlikely. When Blacks and Whites were in the bush, there was no segregation. On the contrary, it was fairly easy to become friends with those from another race.
“One scene really hit home when Chris was on guard duty. It was dark, raining, shadows and noises. I recall the terror of those same moments.
“The movie also portrayed that no one cared about new soldiers coming into the field – not true. Everyone in the bush wanted to survive and go home. The FNG’s just had to wait longer.
“Overall the movie was effective allowing the viewer to experience what Chris was thinking and feeling.
Finally, it’s notable how Chris changed from the beginning to the end of his tour, that was accurate and is similar to what I related in the book”.
Bestselling author Jack Billups, as a 19-year-old Army volunteer, received the Bronze Star with the V attachment. He was awarded the Air Medal, which went to those who participated in combat aerial missions. Assigned to the 1st Air Calvary infantry as an M60 machine gunner, Jack served in the steamy jungles near the Ho Chi Minh trail along the Cambodian border. Recently he received a number of awards and official commendations for his service during the Vietnam War, a story that eventually became a bestselling Vietnam memoir, My Vietnam: A Gift To My Daughter.
“From what I’ve been able to tell, most people see the Vietnam war through the prism of two-hour movies,” Billups wrote. “Its blood, guts, firefights, and death the entire time. Hollywood, how they distort things! The reality was different; it would be more accurate to select any Vietnam movie and stretch it out over a year.”
My Vietnam is, at its core, a love story, combined with a dramatic and searing account of the Vietnam War experience. That experience is shared with a family member, in the most intimate way possible – a return trip to the battlefields of Vietnam.
Billups’ memoir puts the reader into a pair of combat boots, and allows them to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch the Vietnam combat experience in vivid detail. That is but part of the story.
“Hey Dad, please share your Vietnam experiences?” Naomi’s request set into motion a journey, 50 years into the past, as a “grunt” in the steamy jungles of Vietnam. Four months later with his memoir completed, Naomi asked, “Dad, let’s go to Vietnam, just you and me?” Could the ghosts of Vietnam past morph into a father and daughter blessing in the present?
George C. Colclough, Col. Inf (ret) USAR, former president and CEO of Smith & Wesson, stated in the introduction to the book, “Just another Vietnam War book? Certainly not, Jack takes you down two roads as he embarks on one remarkable journey with his daughter. First, Jack effectively articulates his story in such a way that puts the reader into the boots of a grunt, causing them to feel what he felt, and understand the daunting challenges of those who traveled the Vietnam jungle.
“Secondly, Jack and his daughter continued this remarkable adventure as they traveled back to Vietnam to return to the places where her father had so many vivid experiences. A wonderful story!”
What really sets this bestselling memoir apart is Billups’ writing style. There is no pretense; nothing feels forced or contrived, made up or embellished. Billups presents his real-life characters in such a way as to make the reader feel intimately familiar with each of the members of his very young band of brothers, warts and all. Billups tells it exactly as it was.
His style holds through the second part of the book, describing his return to Vietnam and the jaw-dropping changes now evident in modern day Vietnam. One of the highlights of the second part of the book is the reunion, bringing those somewhat innocent young men back together many decades later as mature men. Readers will get a vivid look, from many points of view, at how the Vietnam experience changed the lives of those who lived through that experience.
It is also a compelling memoir that reconciles America and Vietnam, then and now, including the culture shock of seeing Vietnam as it exists today. It offers a heartfelt and heartwarming message to the people of both countries, and a greater understanding of what the old song “Ruby” called “that crazy Asian war.”
Readers and reviewers alike have praised ‘My Vietnam: A Gift to My Daughter’. It has been called “A beautiful journey to healing,” and “A thought-provoking and introspective Vietnam memoir”. One reviewer said, “The book was so good, I was sad when I finished it.” Another stated, “Jack’s memory of his time in Vietnam has been beautifully detailed in his book. Not everyone wants to relive such a terrible page in our American history, but Jack was able to do a remarkable job talking about actual events that he lived through and came back home in one piece to give such a wonderful gift he has given to his daughter.”
Another wrote, “The book delivered on my husband’s hopes for a healing response to what our Armed Services faced over there. My husband usually can’t read much Vietnam War material due to PTSD. He read this in just a few days; it was that good. Our thanks to the author for undertaking this topic and telling his story.”
The book will make for an engaging read for veterans, spouses and children of veterans and others who have been impacted in any way by serving in any branch of the military, as the memoir includes the years leading up to, and after his service in Vietnam, including the effects his tour in Vietnam had on his family.
Jack Billups is available for media interviews and can be reached using the information below or by email at [email protected]. ‘My Vietnam: A Gift to My Daughter’ is available at Amazon in Kindle, paperback and audio formats. More information is available at Billups’ website at https://myvietnambook.com.
About Jack Billups:
As a 19-year-old Army volunteer, Sgt. Jack Billups received the Bronze Star with the V attachment. He was awarded the Air Medal, which went to those who participated in combat aerial missions. Assigned to the 1st Air Calvary infantry as a M60 machine gunner, Jack served in the steamy jungles near the Ho Chi Minh trail along the Cambodian border.
Jack grew up during the 1950s and early 1960s in a peaceful Southern California community populated by many senior citizens and dotted with chicken ranches. He is a dependable and talented “everyman” who makes no claim about his service in Vietnam except for being a patriotic American who did “the right thing” as he saw it. He maintained that attitude throughout his life. Asked to talk about his military experience by his daughter, he began writing it out, and ended up exposing 50-year-old forgotten memories and emotions about the jungle war, concluding with a trip back to Vietnam with his daughter.
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