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Eye of the Tiger
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“We live together under the thick canopy, each searching for the other; the same leeches and mosquitoes that feed on our blood feed on his blood.”
John Edmund Delezen felt a kinship with the people he was instructed to kill in Vietnam; they were all at the mercy of the land. His memoir begins when he enlisted in the Marine Corps and was sent to Vietnam in March of 1967. He volunteered for the Third Force Recon Company, whose job it was to locate and infiltrate enemy lines undetected and map their locations and learn details of their status. The duty was often painful both physically and mentally. He was stricken with malaria in November of 1967, wounded by a grenade in February of 1968, and hit by a bullet later that summer. He remained in Vietnam until December, 1968.
Delezen writes of Vietnam as a man humbled by a mysterious country and horrified by acts of brutality. The land was his enemy as much as the Vietnamese soldiers. He vividly describes the three-canopy jungle with birds and monkeys overhead that could be heard but not seen, venomous snakes hiding in trees and relentless bugs that fed on men. He recalls stumbling onto a pit of rotting Vietnamese bodies left behind by American forces, and days when fierce hunger made a bag of plasma seem like an enticing meal. He writes of his fallen comrades and the images of war that still pervade his dreams.