The Dirty Boots
by John F. Holm
Trafford Publishing

"For over two months, I had carried around a beer, a left over from New Year's, in the bottom of my pack. One of those nights, six of us split it."

Generally, narrative about the Vietnam War is tinted with horror and emotive doldrums, but what if the account comes from a combat medic? Would the chronicle be exceptionally morbid? Would it be quadruple times heart wrenching?

In The Dirty Boots, former combat medic Holm presents his Vietnam War narrative from a different lens. Holm richly informs his readers about his experience starting with his life before Vietnam culminating on marrying his wife Harriet and attending a Nursing School. He tones down the usual sullen atmosphere of Vietnam War narrative as he intensifies the humor about day-to-day war life. His vivid descriptions of the war environment and the action-filled and downtime periods in the jungle pave to a historical narrative that is not necessarily gruesome, and yet is insightful and convincing.

The Dirty Boots is a story of leadership, fortitude, endurance, and of sound, sometimes daring, infantry tactics and brotherhood. While it touches on Vietnam War grapevine rumors like drug use (morphine and pain pills) and STD contraction (clap), it also explores the challenges of providing emergency care to the wounded while in the middle of a crossfire. For many of the former young troops, the Vietnam War halted their growth. In the case of the then 19-year-old Holm, it was the opposite. He was able to develop life skills through fatigue, stress, and hunger as he performed his duty of providing medical supports to the troops. He has known part of himself that he might not have discovered outside of the war setting. Indeed, accounts of the Vietnam War would always vary depending on the narrator's experience, memory, and sense making.

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