Fascinating, hilarious, terrifying, wondrous, and enlightening—sometimes all at once. I couldn’t put it down, and when I got to the end I only wished there were more.
— John Bodle, fmr. USAF JAG
Henry Neis, fresh out of high school from Kansas, is drafted and sent to Vietnam. Trained as a helicopter mechanic, he is promptly assigned to a personnel unit, a fitting introduction to the insanity of this war that makes no sense to him.
Henry falls in with the company misfits and drug users, becoming an addict and dealer himself, yet his fundamental innocence shines through to the final page.
Shepard’s prose pulls us into the scene immediately, and propels us on a journey that is at times exhilarating, shocking, funny, and moving. A rollicking read, and an eye-opening look at the Vietnam War.
THE HERO Versus Me & Monkey Jo
I whispered to Monkey Jo under my breath, “Go get him boy,” when I was ready with my syringe in my hand. I pushed him into the guard’s path with a shove, squealing and waving his arms.
The guard jumped from the noise and commotion Monkey Jo was making. He leveled his weapon at Monkey Jo and walked toward him in disbelief. When he passed my hiding place, I quietly jumped out and wrapped my arm around him while plunging the needle quickly into the side of his neck. I only had to hold onto the struggling man with all my might for a few seconds before he collapsed at my feet. I called Monkey Jo to me and we hit the bushes as quickly as I could get us back in there.
The other guard had heard the commotion and started calling for his comrade—who was out for the count and couldn’t respond, except that he was rather noisily vomiting. The other guard came to investigate and saw his partner on the ground throwing up. He crept up to examine him. When he bent down to talk to him, I pushed a screaming Monkey Jo out of the bushes startling him so I had time to wrap my arms around him while plunging the second fix into the side of his neck. He also tried to get away from my grip and actually spun around to look into my face in the dark, but by then he had no bodily control and collapsed on the ground next to his comrade and immediately began vomiting.
The first guard had quit getting sick and was in an unconscious state of being. I took their AK-47’s, knifes, and ammunition away from their bodies and turned them over to look at them. They were both kids no older than fourteen or fifteen. I hoped I didn’t kill them with those big hits, but didn’t allow myself to dwell on it.