4 out of 4 stars
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Zachariah Martin is fresh out of boot camp when he first steps foot onto the USS Hawke DD 894. He quickly makes friends and finds his place on the destroyer, after a couple of weeks doing drills the Hawke is deployed to Vietnam. Zack is given duty as the sight setter and performs very well.
During their voyage, the Hawke has to refuel mid sail from the cruiser Providence, which can be a harrowing task. They also have to restock supplies in the same way as the Hawke are not big enough to carry all the fuel and supplies it needs because of its size.
During his time in Vietnam, Zack sees more battles and death than he ever wants to, but he and his friends also get into a fair amount of trouble during shore leave on the island of Luzon. During their first shore leave, Zack and his friends enter the wrong bar, get into a fight with Marines and sets into motion a chain reaction that will have severe repercussions.
Tally is the love of Zack’s life and although her father does not approve of their relationship, her mother and Zack’s parents do. She supports Zack completely, especially after his first deployment when he suffers from nightmares.
Deadly Waters: The Vietnam Naval war and its aftermath by Randy Miller describes in the prologue how two officers make coffee with desalinated seawater.
“They were both completely unaware that the freshwater they were producing in the ship’s evaporators would kill more of the ship’s crew than all of the People’s Army of North Vietnam ever would.”
This is a historical book with a very hard and sad message based on the reality faced by all the Blue Water Navy Veterans. At the end of the book, Randy Miller does give a breakdown of what is based on fact and what has been added as well as the reason behind the additions.
This was not an easy read for me and it took me some time to finish because I constantly had to take breaks in order to process what has been described.
The book is very well written and when Zack first boarded the Hawke, he was given a breakdown of the ship and how it functions. This was a nice touch for me because in the process I learned all I needed to know about the destroyer.
The descriptions in the book are very vivid and it is easy to emerge yourself into the book. The descriptions of the battles contain enough detail that people sensitive to violence should avoid this book. The hand full of profanity is limited to one character and can easily be skimmed over. Still, this is a book that deals with a very harsh reality and one should be aware of this before picking up this book.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes history and to all who have an interest in the Military and Navy specifically. There are also descriptions of PTSD and how various people deal with it, and of course, the love story between Zack and Tally that is absolutely beautiful.
What I liked most about the book was the way that Zack’s parent and Tally helped him with his PTSD. It was so gentle and loving but also brought home the reality of how most Veterans do not even realize that they have a problem.
There was nothing to dislike about the book, except of course the way the VA treated the Blue Water Navy Veterans. Unfortunately, that is reality, but hopefully, this book would raise awareness and some comfort can be given to the Veterans and their families.
I gladly rate this book 4 out of 4, the book was well written and edited, and touches on a topic that should have received much more attention than it did.
Deadly Waters: The Vietnam Naval War And Its Aftermath
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