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Cover image for After My Lai : my year commanding first platoon, Charlie Company
Format:
Title:
After My Lai : my year commanding first platoon, Charlie Company
Author:
ISBN:
9780806140452
Edition:
1st ed.
Publication Information:
Norman : University of Oklahoma Press, ©2010.
Physical Description:
xiii, 166 pages : illustrations, maps ; 22 cm
Contents:
Growing up in eastern Oklahoma -- The only choice that made sense -- Assigned to Vietnam -- Charlie Company's taste of war -- The My Lai massacre -- Taking command -- The Gaza strip -- Ambush along the river -- Jungle duty and the 515 valley -- The easy job -- A series of lines -- The most defining event -- Leaving Vietnam.
Summary:
"Gary Bray landed in South Vietnam as a recently married, freshly minted second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. His assignment was not enviable: leading the platoon whose former members had committed the My Lai massacure--the murder of hundreds of Vietnamese civilians--eighteen months earlier. In this compelling memoir, he shares his experiences of Vietnam in the direct wake of that terrible event." "'After My Lai' documents the horrific effects of the war on both sides of the struggle. Bray presents the Vietnamese conflict as the touchstone of a generation, telling how his feelings about being a soldier--a family tradition-- were dramatically altered by the events he participated in and witnessed. He explains how young men, angered by the deaths of comrades and with no release for their frustrations, can sometimes cross the line of legal and ethical behavior." "Bray's account differs from many Vietnamese memoirs in his vivid descriptions of platoon-level tactical operations. As he builds suspense in moment-by-moment depictions of men plunging into jungle gloom and tragedy, he demonstrates that what led to My Lai is easier to comprehend once you've walked the booby-trapped ground yourself. Bray doesn't attempt to excuse the massacre--but he does come to understand how it could have happened. An intensely personal story, gracefully rendered yet brutally honest, After My Lai reveals for general and military readers alike how the burden of warfare changes you forever."--Back cover.
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959.70434 BRAY 2010
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Summary

Summary

In the fall of 1969, Gary Bray landed in South Vietnam as a recently married, freshly minted second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. His assignment was not enviable: leading the platoon whose former members had committed the My Lai massacre--the murder of hundreds of Vietnamese civilians--eighteen months earlier. In this compelling memoir, he shares his experiences of Vietnam in the direct wake of that terrible event.

After My Lai documents the war's horrific effects on both sides of the struggle. Bray presents the Vietnam conflict as the touchstone of a generation, telling how his feelings about being a soldier--a family tradition--were dramatically altered by the events he participated in and witnessed. He explains how young men, angered by the deaths of comrades and with no release for their frustration, can sometimes cross the line of legal and ethical behavior.

Bray's account differs from many Vietnam memoirs in his vivid descriptions of platoon-level tactical operations. As he builds suspense in moment-by-moment depictions of men plunging into jungle gloom and tragedy, he demonstrates that what led to My Lai is easier to comprehend once you've walked the booby-trapped ground yourself. An intensely personal story, gracefully rendered yet brutally honest, After My Lai reveals how warfare changes you forever.


Author Notes

Gary W. Bray is a retired business owner who lives in Stigler, Oklahoma. While serving in Vietnam, he was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.


Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Bray, a retired businessman and veteran of the Vietnam War, has written a brief but powerful memoir with an interesting hook: he was the commanding officer of the platoon that William Calley led during the infamous My Lai massacre. His memoir is clearly a view from the trenches that condemns the My Lai massacre but tries to help us understand how it could happen. The first half of the book is a somewhat predictable account: youth, decision to enlist, basic training, first few weeks in-country. But in the second half, Bray confronts the horror of the war: his first kill is a female soldier; two of his troops and a Vietnamese boy are blown to bits by a booby trap; Bray is wounded. Most distressing to Bray, his unit kills an old woman struggling to get out of a free fire zone, a killing that haunts Bray though it was within the Rules of Engagement. He concludes by saying, simply, that he will forget Vietnam when he "finally lie[s] under a stone in a cemetery." VERDICT Perhaps not as vivid and well written as offerings by professional writers, such as Tim O'Brien's If I Die in a Combat Zone or O'Brien's fictionalized accounts, but still an important work.-A.O. Edmonds, Ball State Univ., Muncie, IN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. ix
Prefacep. xi
Prologue: Ringling, Oklahoma, 2002 Ip. 3
1 Growing Up in Eastern Oklahomap. 7
2 The Only Choice That Made Sensep. 15
3 Assigned to Vietnamp. 25
4 Charlie Company's Taste of Warp. 29
5 The My Lai Massacrep. 35
6 Taking Commandp. 47
7 The Gaza Stripp. 67
8 Ambush along the Riverp. 95
9 Jungle Duty and the 515 Valleyp. 101
10 The Easy Jobp. 119
11 A Series of Linesp. 131
12 The Most Defining Eventp. 141
13 Leaving Vietnamp. 159
Epilogue: Ringling, Oklahoma, 2002 IIp. 163