Waiting For Willie Pete is a novel. Its characters are based on men I flew with in Vietnam, and events described come from those I experienced almost half a century ago in a war that was lost not only in the strategic, military sense, but lost in memory as well. To the current generation Vietnam is no longer a war; Vietnam is just a country.
But those of us who were young then, and who fought and died in SouthEast Asia all those years ago will never forget what we experienced there: The utter lack of purpose; the numbing grind toward DEROS as we waited for 'The Freedom Bird'; the indifference we sensed when we came home, and our fellow citizens ignored what we did in Vietnam. Top Quillig said it best: 'The jungle will swallow all your stories. It will be like you were never here.'
For those readers old enough to remember the divisions & polarization of the U.S. during those awful years, and who decide to read Waiting For Willie Pete, my thanks and gratitude. Harold Piper was the company outcast in the book. But it often takes an outcast to speak the truth and, true to his name, Harold did just that. He said, 'you're all heroes, every damn one of you.' Writing this book dredged up many powerful, painful, often vivid and evocative memories for me. As you read it, please remember that, though the characters I've described are fictional, our experience in Vietnam many years ago lives on, as real for us as the book you hold in your hands. Thank you.