A Year in Hell

Memoir of an Army Foot Soldier Turned Reporter in Vietnam, 1965–1966


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About the Book

This memoir relates the author’s experiences during his year-long tour of duty in the early days of American involvement in Vietnam. Serving in Bravo Company of the 1st Infantry Division, Ray Pezzoli provided protection for engineers constructing the deep water port in Cam Ranh Bay. From July 11, 1965, through June 22, 1966, he dealt with the ever-present threat of Viet Cong guerilla attacks, never knowing whether the Vietnamese natives he met might be friends or enemies. And as an Army reporter, he recorded some of his experiences in print and photographs.
From guard duty to bathing practices, Pezzoli describes the daily life of soldiers with the keen eye of a journalist while also questioning the wisdom of extensive media involvement during wartime. Unique to his story is the dual perspective of infantryman and journalist; Pezzoli never forgot his military objective, and tallied at least 11 kills. The memoir provides a moving narrative not only of his service but of his culture shock on returning to America. An appendix provides additional information about Vietnam, including its history before and after American involvement. The author’s photographs from the time are included.

About the Author(s)

Ray Pezzoli, Jr.,’s articles have appeared in numerous magazines such as Vietnam, Grit, Flying and Catholic Digest, as well as various newspapers. He lives in Avila Beach, California.

Bibliographic Details

Ray Pezzoli, Jr.

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 263
Bibliographic Info: 46 photos, appendix, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2396-5
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8144-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

1. “Hi, My Name Is Ray”      5
2. “Make Sure You Say Good-bye to All the Neighbors”      8
3. Vietnam, July 11, 1965, 0700 Hours      12
4. Cam Ranh Bay, the Republic of Vietnam, on the Other Side of America’s World      14
5. We Were Entering Battle and About to Get Our Feet Wet      37
6. Entering the Major Leagues      51
7. A Bloody Nose Doesn’t Hurt as Bad as It Looks      55
8. Our Work Is Cut Out for Us      91
9. The Light at the End of the Tunnel Goes Dark      98
10. The Never-Never Land Full of Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice and a Grove of Yum Yum Trees      125
11. Christmas with a Meaning      131
12. The Roller Coaster Ride Begins      140
13. The Look from the Other Side of the Fence      147
14. Getting the Tools of War      156
15. Malaria Tablets Today—It Must Be Friday      174
16. My Life Changes Forever      186
17. At Least the Vietnamese People Appreciate Us      195
18. I Can Finally See the End of the Tunnel      215
19. It’s Not Over Till It’s Over      238

Appendix: What Is Vietnam?      249
Index      253