Seventeen-year-old Richie Perry has just graduated from high school. There's no way he can afford college, and the streets are just too hard. So he signs up for the army and gets shipped off to Vietnam. In a battlefield jungle where every move can mean the difference between life and death, he... read more
Richie Perry doesn't see a future for himself after high school. As a black kid who barely graduated, there is no way a college would accept him. Perry feels trapped into joining the army. Leaving his little brother and mom he heads off for basic training. Basic training is fine but, it... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Richie Perry doesn't see a future for himself after high school. As a black kid who barely graduated, there is no way a college would accept him. Perry feels trapped into joining the army. Leaving his little brother and mom he heads off for basic training. Basic training is fine but, it doesn't last long before Richie is sent off to Vietnam. On the way to Vietnam he makes friends with two people: Peewee and Jenkins. Unfortunately, this friendship doesn't last long. On their first mission, Jenkins steps on a mine and is dead in seconds. Watching Jenkins die so suddenly scares Perry and he starts to wonder if he can make it out alive!
The thought of death gets pushed out of Perry's mind as things around the base become more routine to him, until they go on a mission that ends in disaster. Perry's squad shoots at and kills U.S. soldiers by accident. This makes Perry think about death again. In Perry's first real firefight he gets wounded, not bad enough to send him home, but enough that he gets to spend a couple weeks in the hospital which keeps him away from the fighting. Once he joins back up with his squad, he has to take on the biggest mission of his life. His squad is to travel deep into enemy territory and take down the Veit-Cong. After his squad gets dropped off, they find themselves in a fire fight with what seems to be millions of Cong. Unfortunately Perry and Peewee are both wounded. Once they are taken back to the hospital they find out there wounds are bad enough that they get to go home!
On the plane ride home it is Perry and Peewee sitting next to each other just like last time, only this time there are body bags all around them. They see a couple of new recruits so they try to act strong as to not scare them. As they ride home, they wonder if life will ever be the same.
“It's ok to feel bad about what's going on over here, man. It's really ok.”Peewee
“They ain't taking me alive.”Peewee
“I knew Mama loved me, but I also knew when I got back, she would expect me to be the same person, but it could never happen. She hadn’t been to Nam. She hadn’t given her poncho to anybody to wrap a body in, or stepped over a dying kid.”Richie
“We spent another day lying around. It seemed to be what the war was about. Hours of boredom, seconds of terror.”This statement, from Chapter 11, sums up the experience of life in Vietnam for many of the young men fighting there
“We were supposed to smile a lot and treat the people with dignity. They were supposed to think we were the good guys. That bothered me a little. I didn’t like having to convince anybody that I was the good guy. . . . We, the Americans, were the good guys.”Richie
““My father used to call all soldiers angel warriors,” he said. “Because usually they get boys to fight wars. Most of you aren’t old enough to vote yet.””Lieutenant Carroll
“My plans, maybe just my dreams really, had been to go to college, and to write. . . . All the other guys in the neighborhood thought I was going to college. I wasn’t, and the army was the place I was going to get away from all the questions.”Richie
“"Lord, let us feel pity for Private Jenkins, and sorrow for ourselves, and all the angel warriors that fall. Let us fear death, but let it not live within us. Protect us, O Lord, and be merciful unto us. Amen."”Lieutenant Carroll
“If God gets even half the promises we've been laying down, the USA is going to be holier than the Vatican.”
“Sometimes standing alone seemed to be the hardest thing in the world to do, even when being in the crowd meant you could be killed.”Perry
We’re hiding the errata, movie connections, books that influenced this book, books influenced by this book, books that cite this book and books cited by this book sections. If you would like to add content to them, you must first make them visible.