By: Jerry Hall
Publisher: Sundance Hall Publishing
Publication Date: October 2016
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: August 4, 2016
What began in an unforgettable Volume 1—living Jerry Hall’s story and dealing with the heart-wrenching issues of the Viet Nam* War—continues here. The action of battle, fraught with the unending horrors that the “unwanted veterans” dealt with, grows even more painful. And as war comes closer to an end, what should have been peaceful thoughts of returning home alive are painfully absent.
Jerry Hall experiences moral dilemmas. Although wanting to avenge death, he still feels the weight of the world on his shoulders. Killing sometimes seems too easy; yet for the enemy, warfare has nothing to do with morality. Learning lessons the hard way, the reader is taken out in the rain-soaked landscape every day, at times screaming at Jerry and telling him not to question what’s right, because if he thinks too long the only one zipped in a body bag will be him.
Personal heartbreak unravels at home, as Jerry attempts airstrikes on suspected V.C. camps while thinking of his beloved son going blind. His brain becomes muddled with anger and alcohol as he says farewell to his annoying captain while a new squadron commander comes aboard. Father William offers up humor and friendship, and a new man arrives (referred to as Walrus), and the loyalty that grows between these men keeps the reader engrossed.
Individual war stories are told, as well as visits with the family who are waiting for the day “Daddy” can come back home. Readers learn that the cockpit was Jerry’s sanctuary—a place where he could think while flying above the madness. In fact, he wanted nothing more than to ride out the rest of the war peacefully. He came to understand that certain people down below were a lot like him. Their families, too, had been ripped apart. Destroyed by the foreign occupation, they now stare at craters where rice paddies used to be.
An assignment back to the States arrives, and the slow trickling of his final days add to Jerry’s nightmares. The ending of this memoir is not something you would guess as you begin Volume 1. Changes certainly occurred for Jerry Hall upon returning home. Perhaps the best lesson to take away from this memoir is the fact that we can change for the better. Perhaps it’s the fact that Jerry Hall crossed many lines, yet somehow found the power within himself to cross back over. But whatever the case may be, the downside remains that war hasn’t become obsolete.
Quill says: This story is a fantastic look at those who served, died, and who returned home to fight a personal war all their own.
*Americans typically write Vietnam as one word. The Vietnamese use two, Viet Nam, when referring to their country. Out of respect, Jerry Hall chose this version.