by D. A. Wells

"He threatened to shoot me.... I told him he better not miss because if he did I would take that rifle from him, shove it up his ass and pull the trigger."

This is a short memoir from a Midwesterner recalling events that occurred when he served in the army during the early 1950s. It consists of a collection of remembrances that transpired both stateside and overseas. While most of the author’s European time was spent in Trieste, Italy, there are references to such fabled cities as Casablanca, Ankara, Athens, and even parts of Yugoslavia.

The incidents themselves are mostly of a humorous nature. For those unfamiliar with military life, particularly among the lower ranks, the book provides a look at how soldiers of that time often dealt with the tedium of mostly non-combat service. Some of the more memorable instances recounted include an approach by and later a snub from Miss Italy, weapons being fired over the heads of Communist demonstrators, musical jam sessions with musicians who had never played together before, mascot dogs locked in sexual congress in the middle of a café, the witnessing of a traffic accident that winds up killing a man, and more.

Wells explains that his only experience as a writer, previous to penning this memoir, was the development of instruction manuals and various research papers. Here, however, he is able to maintain a very conversational tone that allows his personality as well as his experiences to be conveyed with warmth and fondness. Certainly, readers who served in the military at any point in time will be able to empathize with the feelings and emotions expressed in this lighthearted look back at what it was like to be a young man serving his country far from home.

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