cerkalo
» » Blood Trails: The Combat Diary of a Foot Soldier in Vietnam

Blood Trails: The Combat Diary of a Foot Soldier in Vietnam download ebook

by Christopher Ronnau

Blood Trails: The Combat Diary of a Foot Soldier in Vietnam download ebook
ISBN:
0891418830
ISBN13:
978-0891418832
Author:
Christopher Ronnau
Publisher:
Presidio Press (August 29, 2006)
Language:
ePUB:
1331 kb
Fb2:
1651 kb
Other formats:
azw docx rtf lit
Category:
Leaders & Notable People
Subcategory:
Rating:
4.4

Based on the journal Ronnau kept in Vietnam, Blood Trails captures the hellish jungle war in all its stark life-and-death . Chris Ronnau volunteered for the Army and was sent to Vietnam in January 1967, armed with an M-14 rifle and American Express traveler’s checks.

Based on the journal Ronnau kept in Vietnam, Blood Trails captures the hellish jungle war in all its stark life-and-death immediacy. This wrenching chronicle is also stirring testimony to the quiet courage of those unsung American heroes, many not yet twenty-one, who had a job to do and did it without complaint–fighting, sacrificing, and dying for their country. Includes sixteen pages of rare and never-before-seen combat photos.

Blood Trails, Christopher Ronnau's Diary from his deployment in Vietnam. This book will take you through how Christopher, who was a common foot soldier, thought and felt about the war. It doesn't compare to the amount of detail that other Vietnam War books but his being vague does not ruin the book, it adds more to the feeling of the book. Through his vagueness you see the psychological barrier that is put up to protect himself, and experience his personality. Christopher take you through many of Blood Trails, Christopher Ronnau's Diary from his deployment in Vietnam.

After a medical discharge for wounds received in Vietnam, and a lengthy recuperation at Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco, Chris returned to Southern California. After college and medical school he worked as an emergency room physician and director in St. Louis, Missouri for over twenty years.

Blood Trails", written by Long Beach, California native Chris Ronnau, tells of his experiences as a foot soldier in. .Ronnau was in combat from January to April 1967 with the Big Red 1, his tour shortened by a serious wound to the face received in an ambush

Blood Trails", written by Long Beach, California native Chris Ronnau, tells of his experiences as a foot soldier in Vietnam. Ronnau was in combat from January to April 1967 with the Big Red 1, his tour shortened by a serious wound to the face received in an ambush. I enjoyed Ronnau's book for several reasons.

Blood Trails: The Combat Diary of a Foot Soldier in Vietnam. by Christopher Ronnau.

The Combat Diary of a Foot Soldier in Vietnam. Chris Ronnau volunteered for the Army and was sent to Vietnam in January 1967, armed with an M-14 rifle and American Express traveler’s checks

The Combat Diary of a Foot Soldier in Vietnam. Category: Biography & Memoir 1950 – Present Military History.

For Private First Class Ronnau, Vietnam was 'better than a poke in the face with a sharp stick'. Believing Eisenhower's domino theory, he volunteered for the Army and off to Vietnam he went, armed with an M-14 rifle. And it only took a matter of a few days from his landing at Saigon to finding himself in a modern day Picket's Charge.

Visiting Christopher Ronnau at 2pm Eastern. sir. He also wrote "Blood Trails: The Combat Diary of a Foot Soldier in Vietnam".

Chris Ronnau volunteered for the Army and was sent to Vietnam in January 1967, armed with an M-14 rifle and American . Based on the journal Ronnau kept in Vietnam, Blood Trails captures the hellish jungle war in all its stark life-and-death immediacy.

Chris Ronnau volunteered for the Army and was sent to Vietnam in January 1967, armed with an M-14 rifle and American Express traveler’s checks.

For Private First Class Ronnau Vietnam was 'better than a poke in the face with a sharp stick'. Believing Eisenhower's domino theory, he volunteered for the Army and off to Vietnam he went, armed with an M-14 rifle and American Express travellers cheques. Every gun out there was on rock and roll. Tracers from both sides flew in all directions.

BAPTISM BY FIREChris Ronnau volunteered for the Army and was sent to Vietnam in January 1967, armed with an M-14 rifle and American Express traveler’s checks. But the latter soon proved particularly pointless as the private first class found himself in the thick of two pivotal, fiercely fought Big Red One operations, going head-to-head against crack Viet cong and NVA troops in the notorious Iron Triangle and along the treacherous Cambodian border near Tay Ninh.Patrols, ambushes, plunging down VC tunnels, search and destroy missions–there were many ways to drive the enemy from his own backyard, as Ronnau quickly discovered. Based on the journal Ronnau kept in Vietnam, Blood Trails captures the hellish jungle war in all its stark life-and-death immediacy. This wrenching chronicle is also stirring testimony to the quiet courage of those unsung American heroes, many not yet twenty-one, who had a job to do and did it without complaint–fighting, sacrificing, and dying for their country. Includes sixteen pages of rare and never-before-seen combat photos
Reviews:
  • Dianazius
In reading Christopher Ronnau's book, "Blood Trails", I came across a stunning gem! I have read literally hundreds of Vietnam memoirs, but "Blood Trails" does more to define "the fog of war" more vividly than most autobiographies put together! Read this book, and you will discover why I named this review in the manner I did! Ronnau, in January, 1967 volunteered for the Army at the height of the Vietnam War and was promptly deployed to S.E. Asia. Smartly deciding to bring a camera and a journal, as part of the "Big Red One" Ronnau chronicled patrols, ambushes, B-52 air strikes and search and destroy missions along the hotly contested areas of the "Tay Ninh Province" as well as the "Iron Triangle" The Iron Triangle

Not quite 21 years old, Ronnau kept a running journal of this book from January, 1967 to it's disastrous conclusion four months later, where an N.V.A. bullet truncated this story with a bullet to his jaw, thus ending this memoir. However, within these four months, Ronnau packed in a scathing description and powerful indictment of the folly of this conflict, giving the reader glimpses of this war rarely told! After being shot on the battlefield, Ronnau was airlifted to the Kishine Barracks at the American Military Hospital on Yokohama, Japan, and finally the now defunct Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco, California. Killed in Action-Struck By Lightning: A Vietnam Combat Medic's Story Ronnau needed 6 surgeries to repair the left side of his jaw, rebuilt using one of his ribs. After his recovery and subsequent discharge from the Army, Ronnau heroically went back to college, then medical school, graduating from the "University of Guadalajara", Mexico in 1978. He then practiced "Emergency Medicine" for the next 30 years, with stops as an emergency room physician and director in St. Louis, Mo., and at last look, at the penal institution "California Institute For Men" in Chino, California.

Penned in 2006, Ronnau qualified his book by stating that he was very grateful for the diary he kept while he was in Vietnam, and that without it he would no longer remember accurately what happened from January to April, 1967 with any degree of reliability. In creating this memoir from his diary, he had to meticulously purge from it numerous derogatory terms for ethnic groups, as well as negative comments about gays. Although it is a Vietnamese custom of normalcy, upon observing 2 ARVN soldiers holding hands, Ronnau wrote in his memoir: "The sight of 2 ARVN holding hands as they walked down the street made me stare like a shocked child. It made me wonder if VC or North Vietnamese soldiers held hands. Maybe they did, but somehow I just couldn't picture it". Blaming it on his incomplete social development at the time, it was the way a 20 year old infantryman spoke and thought then, and all negative comments as such were expunged. Bloods: Black Veterans of the Vietnam War: An Oral History

However, when the reader looks deep within the lines of this book, behind all the endless and futile search and destroy missions and unproductive ambush deployments, there is a story of a less than noble conflict, and a waste of 60,000 American lives in a war doomed from the start. What Are They Going To Do, Send Me To Vietnam? Ronnau starts early in this book, when he writes that after 4 months of basic training, he went AWOL for his departure date by 3 days to see Purdue defeat So. California in "The Rose Bowl", on January 1, 1967. Ronnau wrote: "My thinking was the Army was so desperate for fresh troops, that they wouldn't dare lock me up. The worst they could do was send me to Vietnam and that was already happening". Before being processed at "Travis Air Force Base" in Oakland, California and boarding a Continental Airlines flight to Vietnam with a refueling stop in Honolulu, Hawaii, Ronnau and a few thousand GI's had to get immunization shots for typhus, influenza, bubonic plague, small pox, cholera, tetanus and yellow fever. He lamented: "How could people live in a country with this much sickness? Who would want to?"

Then Ronnau recalled in his journal that while his flight was halfway between Hawaii and Vietnam, the pilot announced that the Viet Cong had blown up the runway at their final destination, Pleiku, with mortar fire, and that until the runway was repaired they would be temporarily diverted to "Clark Air Force Base" in the Philippines. Since the Pleiku airstrip could not be repaired quick enough for a commercial jet to land in such a short period of time, Ronnau's jet was rerouted to "Tan Son Nhut Airbase", the busiest airport in the world in 1967. Similar to other accounts, upon disembarking from the plane Ronnau remarked: "Air that was too wet and too hot met us at the exit, forcing me to hold my breath for a second and wonder if I could actually breathe this atmosphere. Thoughts of no air-conditioning for a long time, unless General Westmoreland invited me for dinner, crossed my mind". Everything We Had: An Oral History of the Vietnam War Before getting on a bus with windows blackened out with protective chicken wire to prevent enemy grenades being tossed in, Ronnau quipped as he walked on the tarmac: "It was surprising to see an F-100 Super Saber take off right next to us with a 10 foot cone of fire coming out of it's rear that was so close you could have roasted marsh mellows as it passed. I thought we had stopped using the F-100 after the Korean War. I had read in a magazine that the war was costing a million dollars an hour. The sight of all those jets and jet fuel flames made me think that maybe that amount was correct".

After taking a bumpy bus ride to the massive military complex at Long Binh, the largest U.S. military base in Vietnam, Ronnau wrote in his journal that when filling out "casualty reporting forms" (which family member is to be notified if he was wounded or killed) he was the only one in his group to check "no one" as he couldn't put his mother through such an ordeal. A Life in a Year: The American Infantryman in Vietnam Clearly explaining the process of having his American money replaced with MPC's (military payment certificates) and/or "Dong's (the South Vietnamese currency), Ronnau ironically predicted the following: "Most of us took half and half. Our military stores accepted only MPC. Vietnamese merchants wanted piasters. However, most would accept MPC after feeling it carefully, holding it up to the light, and wondering what it would be worth if the U.S. military ever skipped town".

Ronnau's description of his very first impressions of the Vietnamese countryside are memorable. Ronnau wrote: "There were rows of beat-up cinder-block houses without doors. Pigeons perched in windows without glass. Unattended children played perilously close to the traffic zooming by. Laundry flapped in the breeze over too much domestic animal feces, which was everywhere, The yards were small, barren and unattended without any flowers to be seen. Pigs and chickens were everywhere. There were more dogs in some yards than there were children and often the dogs were cleaner. It appeared as if what we were fighting for was a giant Oriental Tijuana". The reader wonders from Ronnau's memoir if this status quo was worth fighting and dying over! Who were we saving these people from?

To add to the confusion, Ronnau's bus stopped at "Di An" for assignments. When Ronnau's corporal asked his group if there were any "91-Bravos" (medic's) amongst the group, and none answered, the corporal walked up to the first 9 guys and promptly appointed them as medics! Ronnau observed: "This was the most wild and reckless action the Army had taken in my presence, ever. I was incredulous. It was hard to imagine getting shot in the throat and then receiving your care from a medic who was really trained as a jeep mechanic. It was the army way. It makes truck drivers into cooks and cooks into truck drivers and then looks perplexed when the food is always late and tastes bad when it gets there". A Bad Attitude: A novel from the Vietnam War

Being permanently assigned to "C Company" in the 2/28 Battalion, also known as the "Black Lions", his permanent base was at Lai Khe on "Highway 13, just north of Saigon. Ronnau's memoir covers facets of this war never found in the history books, such as the fear of contracting "Black VD" from the omnipresent Vietnamese prostitutes, the "F.N.G". syndrome as well as D.E.R.O.S (Date of Estimated Return from Overseas Service) calenders on everything from GI's walls to helmets. The fighting spirit simply wasn't there. In covering "Operation Cedar Falls" (January, 1967), Ronnau wrote in his journal that he was talking to a grunt from Brooklyn, N.Y., who was recovering from superficial shrapnel injuries. The grunt told Ronnau: "Three Purple Hearts and you don't have to go out in the jungle anymore, you get permanent rear echelon duty. If you're lucky, you'll get some wounds like mine". The Heart of the Country: Cash or Combat, a True Story of Vietnam's Life or Death Lottery

Ronnau did a classic job of describing fruitless ambushes and monotonous, unproductive search and destroy missions with an elusive enemy. At one point, the reader wonders if any battle action will ever occur in Ronnau's tour. Of course, that eventually happens, with Ronnau coming perilously close to losing his life. However, in terms of winning the "hearts and minds" of our allies, the South Vietnamese, it is interesting to quote Ronnau's description of a mission where his platoon encircled a suspected hostile village, searching for Communist elements. Ronnau asserted: "We motored to Lai Khe village and encircled it while others went inside for a massive shakedown operation, not unlike those inside prisons back home to look for shanks, drugs, and other contraband. This was done on a periodic basis to prevent the buildup of weapons or explosives in the village. The brass didn't want to ignore the possibilities of a fort within a fort. Most of the time, all they came away with was hung over GI's sleeping off the previous night's drinking and whoring". The reader wonders how the U.S. could ever win the allegiance of the indigenous population with this kind of treatment. Houses and huts of South Vietnamese were arbitrarily burnt down with GI's "Zippo" cigarette lighters under the slightest paranoid pretense of past enemy presence. How many history books will tell this part of the story?

And although Ronnau wrote in his journal that the kids of South Vietnam were a lot of fun, the adult population, which was what truly counted in making a difference in the success of American presence was an entirely different story. Ronnau reported: "The adults ignored us, which I found disconcerting. They didn't seem to recognize us as soldiers who had come to help defend their country and were risking our lives to do so. They didn't wave or smile or even look up very often. They seemed apathetic and unconcerned. This struck me as ominous". Remember, this was written 5 years before the abandonment of the American Embassy in Saigon, and 7 years before Saigon would be renamed "Ho Chi Minh City", in the cruel April of 1975.Cruel April: The Fall of Saigon

There are other facets of Ronnau's journal that point to this war's futility. Ronnau during his tour stopped carrying his dog tag, wallet, and key ring. It was a "jungle legend" that if the enemy discovered your stateside address, they would mail a bomb or exploding package to your family. Also, when Ronnau's platoon was put in charge of guarding the ammunition dump against VC sapper night attacks, he wrote in his journal: "There was a frank discussion about the ARVN being involved in what was essentially going to be an inside job. What a sorry state of affairs. Those guys were supposed to be on our side". Furthermore, Ronnau wrote that our troops were trained wrong. One night, on ambush duty, an enemy detachment threw rocks at Ronnau's squad in an attempt to get them to return fire so the American position would be exposed and compromised. Ronnau documented in his journal: "That night had been an example of "OJT" (on the job training). We hadn't been trained how to deal with many specific situations, like how to react when the VC hide in the brush and throw rocks at your night ambush formation. We were smart enough to figure out to be quiet but not advanced enough in our thinking to heave grenades back. 365 Days Like a lot of situations, we learned as we went. Next time it happened we would think of using grenades. That's the way "OJT" worked in a combat zone. You either got killed or figured out what to do".

Unfortunately, 60,000 Americans had to pay the ultimate price for their on the job training:with their lives. Ronnau also wrote about drugs in Vietnam, problems with the "M-16", using "C-4" to cook, death from friendly fire, enemy booby traps, ARVN incompetence and lack of aggressiveness, as well as the detailed sequence of the battle that almost cost him his life. There is no part of a grunt's life in Vietnam circa 1967 Christopher Ronnau left out. All of his anecdotes and stories all point to an eventual American pull out and loss of patience at the never ending stream of American body bags coming back from Vietnam with "no light at the end of the tunnel". Surely, this is a book that will teach you which way the conduct of this war would take years before it occurred. DO NOT miss "Blood Trails". It is a definite "winner". Highly recommended.
  • Celore
I ended up purchasing a copy of Blood Trails from Amazon.UK because I wanted to establish an account on that side of the world. But I couldn't wait for it to arrive, so I purchased a Kindle e-book version too and began reading it immediately. Like Chris, I also kept a diary when in Vietnam and referred to it when writing my own novel.

I truly loved Blood Trails and could relate to many of the anecdotes within the story. My outfit, the 25th Division, also patrolled around Tay Ninh and Cambodia and I can recall many of those things described in the book. Some reviewers have posted that Blood Trails was just another grunt story. It is, but there are also 3.5 million Vietnam war stories out there - some of us have chosen to write about them. Although many of the books are the same in the sense of writing about the suffering of patrolling and sleeping in the bug infested jungles, every one of them is unique and personal. I have read many Vietnam novels as well, but I always find them educational and I learn from them. I think it is important for readers who may have known teenagers that went to war in Vietnam, to read books like Blood Trails to better understand why these warriors were so different upon their return. War is hell and they lived there.

Of the 3.5 million troops that eventually served in Vietnam, only 10% of them were assigned to the Infantry. These were the ground pounders that actually humped through the jungles, avoided booby traps, stumbled into fortified enemy positions, and actually did the face to face fighting. This is not meant to belittle the other 90%, because without their support, the infantry soldiers would not have survived. It should also be noted that the firebases and base camps were sometimes more dangerous than in the jungle, especially when they were mortared, rocketed and assaulted by the enemy. So each story is unique and written from a different perspective.

When reading these different stories, I find myself drawn into it as if I am right there with them in the story. I can feel their fear, anticipation, awe, suspense and find myself relieved when the patrol finally returns to safety.

Blood Trails deserves five stars and will be placed in the top twenty of my all-time best books about the war. It is highly recommended and should be read by those interested in joining the service or wanting to know what life in the jungle was really like.

Great job Chris! Welcome Home Brother!

John Podlaski, author
Cherries - A Vietnam War Novel
  • Steamy Ibis
I enjoyed this book. At first I thought I wouldn't because it's written in a rather sarcastic, humorous tone. But the more I read, the more I liked it. The author imparts his thoughts and feelings very well. He says things that many of us former military service members have thought whether it be during a war or not.

I think his humor may have helped him get through the tough times and he did face several tough situations. He was wounded and tells about his journey through the medical system. I found this part very interesting. The emotional impact of seeing other wounded soldiers made the author feel almost lucky about his injury. (And it was a severe injury.)

I found out that the author has passed away, but I still would like to salute him for his service and thank him for writing this book. God Bless You, Chris!
  • Asyasya
As a National Serviceman in New Zealand, on 48 hour standby for a year to go to Vietnam in the mid-1960s, the war there has held a horrified fascination for me, and I have read many books from servicemen who survived the war. However I had never read anything quite like Chris Ronnau's book. For me it was like a cross between Full Metal Jacket and Gilligan's Island. Ronnau's cynical yet humorous take on events is probably what helped him survive the war. At times I was saddened by events he described, and at other times I burst out laughing! A great book by a classy author.