We Had to Get Out of That Place

A Memoir of Redemption and Betrayal in Vietnam


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About the Book

Steven Grzesik’s counter-culture experience in Greenwich Village ended with a bad acid trip followed by a draft notice. The Vietnam War, then at its height, seemed doomed to failure by cynical politicians and a skeptical public, a prediction he weighed against his sense of duty to himself and to his country. Through a variety of combat duties—with the infantry, the 36th Engineer Battalion, F Co. 75th Rangers and the 174th Assault Helicopter Co.—and several close calls with death, Grzesik’s detailed memoir recounts his two tours in-country, where he hoped merely to survive with a semblance of heroism, yet ultimately redefined himself.

About the Author(s)

Steven Grzesik served two tours of duty in Vietnam. He spent time in the infantry and the engineers on his first tour. On his second tour he volunteered for the original 75th Rangers, going on many long-range reconnaissance patrols. Afterwards, he flew as a door gunner in the largest air assault of the war: Operation Lam Son 719—the invasion of Laos. A writer for major newspapers and military periodicals, he lives in Seminole, Florida.

Bibliographic Details

Steven Grzesik

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 215
Bibliographic Info: 21 photos, glossary, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9051-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4808-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
1. Introduction and a Sniper 3
2. In Country 9
3. MPs, Rockets and the Firebase 15
4. Total Darkness and Explosions 22
5. Mortars and Prisoners 30
6. War Dog Twice 36
7. Women and Children 47
8. Strange Grenades and Tarot Cards 52
9. Five Crazy Days in Dau Tieng 57
10. ­Boom-boom 67
11. New Guys 70
12. Escape 75
13. Vung Tau to Baria 80
14. Baria to Vinh Long 88
15. Kiss Panama Goodbye 102
16. F Company Rangers 108
17. Lizard 114
18. M79 116
19. SKS Rifle 119
20. Most Embarrassing Moment 121
21. Large, Small Men 123
22. A Beautiful Jungle 127
23. Cambodia 131
24. Marking Round 134
25. Fall from Grace and Ascent I 138
26. Fall from Grace and Ascent II 147
27. “Mayday, Mayday” 158
28. Down Behind the Lines 161
29. Lines in the Sky 166
30. Redemption at Lang Vei 168
31. Fifty Knot Smoke 179
32. Bodies in the Bird 183
33. Shot Up 186
34. Redleg’s Air 192
35. Zero One to Ball Game 195
36. Aftermath 200
Epilogue 205
Glossary 207
Index 209

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Grzesik provides heartfelt insights into his passage into adulthood…We Had to Get Out of That Place informed and entertained me in many ways as it resurrected memories of my own similar thoughts and behavior.”—The VVA Veteran

• “Steven Grzesik has pulled back the curtain on service in the Vietnam War. It was a brutal time and Steve honestly offers his experiences as proof of this.”—Major General Bradley Lott, United States Marine Corps (retired)

• “Grzesik’s gripping point of view places you squarely into his gritty, no-punches-pulled, journey of self-discovery. He takes you from the streets of New York City to the battlefields of Vietnam, and in doing so, reveals the insanity of that war, and the humanity of its soldiers.”—David Sheppard, Commander, United States Coast Guard

• “Grzesik captures the horrors of the Vietnam War. He details the fears of a young soldier being dropped into the unknown in Vietnam: a conflict no one could be prepared for. The account of his journey is riveting.”—Kurt Browning, former Florida Secretary of State