Outskirts Press (2018)
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (12/18)
“RVN” by Tim Gingras is a very well written account of a young man’s journey from Chicago to the jungles of Vietnam. Charlie Kinane’s brother’s grandson, J.D. encourages him to break his silence and talk about his experiences as a corpsman in Vietnam. For many who served during the Vietnam War or knew someone who did, realize that a majority of those soldiers, regardless of their job cannot or will not discuss their time there.
Having an older brother who served in Nam, I can honestly say he came home a different person and not one we all knew. I know for him, every day and night was filled with horrible dreams, jumping at the smallest sound and anger one couldn’t imagine. In Charlie’s telling of his experiences, he did say he would only speak of certain things. Some are better left unsaid.
Having turned 18 on January 3, 1966, Charlie realized that it was time to enlist in the military before the draft got him. At least at this point, he might have some say in what his military job would be. Charlie’s only wish was to be able to escape the front lines of war yet do the best he could in his job and hopefully survive. His chosen area was Corpsman with advanced training in Pharmacy.
Gingras’ book had me transported back in time where I worked Civil Service and processed men into the military for initial training. His writing, humor, and attention to detail made me feel like I was given a glimpse into what it must have been like in his shoes. The author doesn’t glorify or mystify the war; it simply tells a story through the eyes of a young man. Throughout the story, readers will see the humor, good-natured harassment and kidding the corpsmen took, but they were 100% Navy soldiers and took the same chances, ate C-rations and would do anything in their power to save their fellow soldiers.
I could not put this book down, nor did I want to. It is one of the better books I have read on a soldier’s experience in Vietnam and trust me the ending with surprise you. I highly recommend “RVN” to all readers. It might just give one some insight into why some can’t talk about the war. I look forward to more books by Tim Gingras.