Tragedy at Chu Lai

Reconstructing a Deadly Grenade Accident in a U.S. Army Classroom in Vietnam, July 10, 1969

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About the Book

Nicky Venditti, a U.S. Army helicopter pilot with a love of fast cars and practical jokes, went to Vietnam in 1969 and was dead in 11 days, killed by an Americal Division grenade training explosion at Chu Lai. The full story of the incident did not come out until the author, David Venditta (a different spelling), Venditti’s cousin, made a chance discovery that began a decades-long effort to find out exactly what happened, what the Army did about it and who was held responsible. This book documents the Army’s mishandling of the incident and the effects on the families and friends of Venditti and of the two other young soldiers who died with him.

About the Author(s)

David Venditta is a retired newspaper writer and editor in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Bibliographic Details

David Venditta
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 212
Bibliographic Info: 23 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6431-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2438-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments ix

Preface 1

Introduction: A Vietnam Odyssey, May 18, 1998 3

1. That Dirty War, July 28, 1969 13

2. Discovery, November 1994 19

3. “A good kid,” December 8, 1995 25

4. Nicky Emerges, Spring 1966 36

5. Best Friends, October 24, 1996 50

6. Home and Unease, June 1969 65

7. “Isn’t worth a nickel,” July 1969 75

8. “We gotta get out!” July 10, 1969 82

9. Bitter Pills, June 1969 86

10. Casting a Wide Net, 1994–2015 103

11. A Crowd of Commanders, November 20, 1998 115

12. Patchwork of Memories, 1996–2015 126

13. No Longer a Phantom, April 30, 2000 137

14. A Dog’s Bark, a Man’s Voice, November 13, 2001 147

15. “When you screw up in a war,” November 13, 2001 151

16. Making a Case for Sabotage, November 13–17, 2001 158

17. The Marine Corps Way, March 28, 1967 166

18. Change of Heart, July 20, 2013 172

19. “A man who did not run,” 2015 175

The Author’s Interviews 185

Selected Reading 195

Index 197

Book Reviews & Awards

“Venditta tells us what the war meant to the families who lost loved ones in a war that was hard for all of us to understand”—Americal Journal (Americal Division Veterans Association); “this is an extremely well written and documented book that reveals the tragic truth”—The VHPA Aviator; “terrific”—The Morning Call.