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Paperback Not Going Home Alone: A Marine's Story Book

ISBN: 0345440935

ISBN13: 9780345440938

Not Going Home Alone: A Marine's Story

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

Experience the pain, the pride, and the triumph of the Marine Corps All the members of 1st Lt. James J. Kirschke's mortar platoon and then rifle platoon knew the stakes: the Marines are America's military elite, expected to train harder, fight longer, sacrifice more. Kirschke led by example in the hotly contested zone just south of the DMZ and in the dangerous AnHoa region southwest of DaNang. There Kirschke's units, with resources stretched to the...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A Vietnam memoir that details the work of war

Pedestrian writing can ruin any subject, even the ready-made drama of war. Vietnam memoirs are no exception. But such is not the case in James Kirschke's account of fighting in some of the bloodiest zones of the war in 1966-67. With a colorful, engaging style that does not shy from personal revelation, Kirschke weaves a compelling narrative made genuine by its generosity of spirit and plausible by its even hand. Kirschke's experience as both an English professor and a writer gives him an advantage over the competition, true. But potent material like this still needs adept storytelling, and in Kirschke, a retired Marine captain, it finds a capable craftsman. Casual and passionate reader alike will be touched as Kirschke relates the critical and formative aspects of his service: training and bonding with his mortar platoon at Camp Pendleton, exhausting daily combat in the area just south of the DMZ -- commanding first his mortar platoon and then a rifle platoon -- and his final battle of the war, the injury that left him near death for many months. The reader will also appreciate that Kirschke has steered clear of the kind of cynical self-confession and cloying apologia that too often mars Vietnam memoirs. Not Going Home Alone is about the work of war and the love and sorrow encountered along the way.


Lt. James J. Kirschke demonstrated outstanding leadership skills stateside and in Vietnam. He loved his men, and they loved him. As an 81 mortars platoon commander, Kirschke drove his men to become the best of their kind in the USMC. The men he trained developed not only incredible proficiency and stamina, but also a deeply seated sense of pride in serving their country and the Corps. After Kirschke transfered to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, he became the CO of a rifle platoon. At this juncture in the narrative, the action and tension in this finely written book heats up and never cools down. Kirschke was not a hell-raiser or macho warrior hyped up on testosterone. He was simply an excellent human being on whom God had generously bestowed such rich gifts as those of leadership ability, compassion, and sense of duty. It is incredible that Kirschke teaches literature in one of today's foremost universities, given the anti-white male and looney leftist fringe that rides herd over modern academia. When I put this book down, I thought of Kirschke the way Mark Antony thought of Brutus at the end of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar: "His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world, this was a man." Thanks, Jim, for your unselfish service and for writing this book.

How it must have been

Not Going Home Alone is the best example I have seen yet of the growing genre of Vietnam combat memoirs. Retired Marine Captain James J. Kirschke takes us through his tour in Vietnam with the 3d and 2nd Battalions, 5th Marines, sadly cut short by his grievous wounding in the An Hoa Valley. Kirschke goes beyond combat descriptions (although he provides plenty) and presents all the things that a platoon commander in combat has to think about and do. For anyone considering becoming a Marine or Army officer, especially as a grunt, this is a fine introduction to what one should be able to do. The book is very well-written; Kirschke does a great job bringing the Marines he served with alive for us, as well as conveying what Vietnam in the bush was like. Kirschke also provides a useful reminder that the Vietnam War and Vietnam veterans are not as portrayed by Oliver Stone and his ilk. With this book, Kirschke has given his comrades who died in Vietnam and since a wonderful memorial.Not Going Home Alone has a special resonance for me; like Kirschke I was a grunt lieutenant in the 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, although in more peaceful times (1981 through 1983). I cannot vouch personally for his Vietnam descriptions, but his descriptions of Camp Pendleton, Okinawa and the Philippines brought back a lot of memories. This is an outstanding book; here's hoping it finds a huge audience.P.S. to Hollywood: Not Going Home Alone would make a great movie, if you don't mess with it.

Espirit De Corps in Vietnam

1LT James J. Kirschke recounts the unceasing test of stamina and courage endured by Marines who served at the DMZ and An Hoa in Vietnam in 1966-1967. Unlike the cynical portrayals of reluctant warriors marking time until their return to the world and indifferent cruelty to the indiginous population, this book describes the Marines as having high morale under sparse and brutal conditions; employing vigilant and professional combat tactics in the field; and making all efforts to reduce suffering by the innocent local population. For 13 months, every step is measured taking into consideration a guerrilla ambush, an organized NVA assault, and the never-ending threat of land mines and booby traps. The author's writing style is brilliantly clear, with detailed facts and accounts of the people who served and the engagements that took place. The book comes to a shocking conclusion, and the reader comes away with a sense of inspiration, respect and gratitude.

Inside A Heroic Platoon Commander

James Kirschke describes from an introspective point of view the triumph, glories, and failures of a Marine 81 Mortar Platoon and a Marine Infantry Platoon in Vietnam. Kirschke entered Vietnam early in the war and was able to train with his 81 mortar platoon prior to deploying with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. He describes his attempt to train and condition his platoon into the "best 81 platoon in the Marine Corps." He also describes his growth into a leader of combat Marines. His love for his men and the Marine Corps is evident. Some of his leadership techniques were unconventional but judging from the testimonials of his men, highly effective.Kirschke gives a unique perspective of the early involvement in the Vietnam war. He talks frankly about mistakes that were made as well qualities that distinguished officers, NCO's, and enlisted Marines. His attempts to rehabilitate Marines who were disciplinary problems should be noted by other officers. The close relationship between enlisted Marines, Marine NCO's, and Marine Officers has always distinguished the Marine Corps from other services. Kirschke was horribly wounded after his transfer to the 2nd Battaion, 5th Marines. While at Clark Air Force Base, Kirschke received over 70 pints of blood. A lessor man would have welcomed death. Many did. However, Kirschke found comfort and strength from the letters of his men, whom he loved. He decided to give comfort to others in the ICU to sustain them through their suffering. Kirschke's triumph over death is not only uplifting, but should also be an inspiration to those who have suffered debilitating injuries or those of us who are not having "a good day." If the reader does not have a tear in his eye after reading this book, he's a much stronger man than I.
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