4 out of 4 stars
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Deadly Waters: The Vietnam Naval War and Its Aftermath by Randy Miller is a story that follows Private First Class Zachariah Martin and his time in the Navy during the Vietnam War. Zach is a 17 year old just out of high school. He figured that he could join the war now or be drafted later. Deadly Waters splits Zack’s time up into 3 parts spanning about 400 pages. The first part follows Zack, fresh out of boot camp, onboard his first ship, the USS Hawke. Here, he learns the ins and outs of how a ship works and what it means to be part of a naval ship during a war. It also delves into not just Zack and his shipmates’ time onboard or on shore but shows a little bit of life for a Viet Cong soldier as well. This soldier, Private Phan Van Huong, once agreed with the North Vietnam People’s Army but once he started to see more of his people being affected by the war, he starts to change his mind and plays a key role.
The second part of the story follows Zack onto another ship, the USS Providence. He is granted a three week leave and heads home to be with his family and sweetheart, Tally. Once back on his new ship, he finds new friends and a talent which provides him with a new position as a helmsman. Once his second tour ends, Zack ends his time with the Navy and goes home. In part three, Zack and Tally have married and they both start to notice that Zack has some troubling health issues. In this part of the story, it focuses on how the Navy veterans were treated by the government. There was little to no help in the beginning, some help for a few years and in more recent years, no help once again.
The main focus of Deadly Waters has been to prove that those who served in the Navy during Vietnam are truly Vietnam veterans and they do deserve to be treated better. Due to the Agent Orange that was used during the war, it not only contaminated the land but the water the naval ships used for everyday usage. Agent Orange was shown to cause a myriad of health issues and the soldiers who were exposed to it while on the ships, had a higher illness rate than those troops on the ground. These were the men that were not treated the same as the other branches of the military.
You should keep in mind that this is a military story so there is quite a bit of swearing and violence thought out the first two parts of the book. There are minor mistakes but it does not detract from the story at all. One other thing Miller did really well was using the Northeastern accents. Zack is from Vermont and his dialog shows it. It does sometimes get in the way of understanding what is happening when Zack starts to speak with another seaman who is from the same area. Zack does learn to drop his accent about halfway through the book.
This book was fantastic and it really opened my eyes to the other effects of this war. The fact that many soldiers, who fought in that war, were not recognized as real Vietnam War veterans just breaks my heart. They were considered Vietnam War Era veterans and as such, they did not receive the same benefits or care. It also brings to light how we can forget and mistreat people. This story was absolutely wonderfully written and told so engagingly. I rate this book 4 out of 4. Anyone who enjoys a military story would find this gem a brilliant addition to his or her collection.
Deadly Waters: The Vietnam Naval War And Its Aftermath
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