Cong Catchers: A Soldier’s Memories of Vietnam
by Lee Halverson
PageTurner Press and Media

"For the most part I am an optimist and when I returned to the world, I decided it was important to focus on the good things that happened."

Lee Halverson melds his sensible, midwestern upbringing and Christian heart with a youthful sense of adventure and a talent for making the best of bad situations in this compelling memoir. As Halverson graduates from Iowa State University in 1968, the controversial Vietnam conflict and the draft are in full swing. Rather than deal with the uncertainties of the draft, Halverson volunteers and soon arrives for basic training at Ft. Polk, Louisiana. Eventually, he becomes a “Puppy Pusher”— a sentry dog trainer and handler. Halverson creates warm bonds with his mostly younger fellow soldiers, who all grow to respect him as a caring mentor. Halverson marries his sweetheart, Ginny, before deploying, and their close relationship becomes the envy of his comrades-in-arms.

Halverson’s vivid memories of his year-long tour of duty in Vietnam are bolstered by his collection of daily letters to and from Ginny. He began a public recollection of his Army days in 2008 by publishing letter excerpts with articles for the Spencer Daily Reporter in Sioux Rapids, Iowa. His straightforward, honest writing is suffused with humor and pathos, even while describing the most fearful moments of combat. While Lee was not an infantryman sent out on patrol in the jungles, his unit patrolled their own installations with German Shepherds trained to scent and kill Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers, who braved razor wire and other hazards to steal ammunition, equipment, and food from the US Army. Halverson’s good-natured temperament shines through his commitment to serve and survive. Even antiwar readers will find much to admire about this empathetic soldier and his rebellious cadre of colleagues who thumb their noses at convention while working hard and going the extra mile by refurbishing local Vietnamese orphanages.

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