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Firsthand accounts

  • World War II Magazine

    ‘We Shall Fight On the Beaches…’

    My fascination with military fortifications began when I was a child, watching soldiers training for D-Day on the Scottish coast. I am just old enough to remember a time when the military concrete that still can be seen along the coasts of...

  • World War II Magazine

    A Young Marine at Tulagi

    A young marine comes of age on 31/2 square miles of island jungle in the Pacific. I know where I was a month ago, a year ago, or a decade ago, but I do know precisely where I was sixty-five years ago last August 8. On that date I was one...

  • World War II Magazine

    A Combat Nurse’s Exhausting Sorrows, Unexpected Joys

    Army nurse June Wandrey stood five feet two inches tall with, in her words, “finely honed muscles that were dynamite ready.” That forceful spirit was evident in her wartime letters as well; Wandrey did not mince phrases when it came to...

  • World War II Magazine

    A Soldier’s Death Far from the Field of Battle

    Thousands of American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines lost their lives in World War II during training exercises, their sacrifices often over looked. On August 28, 1944, a woman in Quincy, Washington, Mrs. W. C. Grigg, witnessed one...

  • MHQ Magazine

    Blood and Butchery in the Crimea

    Long months spent in the trenches during the siege of Sevastopol convinced a French lieutenant of war’s futility. Charles Duban was born in Dijon, France, in January 1827. His father was a Napoleonic war veteran who had left the army an...

  • MHQ Magazine

    “Nobody Knew Who Was in Charge”

    A veteran of the Napoleonic wars reflects on his experiences at Quatre Bras, where the bravery of individual French soldiers won the day, and at Waterloo, where it did not. Napoleonic War veteran Jean-Baptiste Jolyet had served with the...

  • MHQ Magazine

    Confederate Cavalryman in the Wilderness

    Unaware of the titanic clashes around him, this Civil War soldier followed orders but saw great opportunities to do much more. Lieutenant Robert Thruston Hubard Jr. was born into a successful family and grew up on a thriving Virginia...

  • Vietnam Magazine

    Vietnam Book Review: Last Night I Dreamed of Peace

    Last Night I Dreamed of Peace: The Diary of Dang Thuy Tram translated by Andrew X. Pham. Harmony Books, New York, 2007, softcover 19.95. Dang Thuy Tram’s chronicle, in its sensationalized English version, is perhaps the only...

  • Vietnam Magazine

    When James Brown Brought the House Down

    Ever since 1968, I have been meaning to compose a letter to the Godfather of Soul that begins something like this: Dear Mr. James Brown, First, I want to thank you for coming to Vietnam and performing for the soldiers at Long Binh. Second,...

  • Vietnam Magazine

    On a vintage 1890 pile-driving barge

    The first thing I noticed when I got off the airplane at Tan Son Nhut in August 1970 was the intense heat. Led into the airport terminal, I watched all the different kinds of soldiers and civilians moving through the building. After a long...

  • Vietnam Magazine

    ‘Smelling the Enemy’

    Long after the fact, a commander learns that his battlefield intuition deep in a Vietnam jungle was right—and saved many lives. When experienced combat commanders say that something “doesn’t pass the smell test,” they usually know...

  • Vietnam Magazine

    Writing on the Wall in Guam

    As the airplane prepared to descend, one member of the flight crew entered the cargo compartment, made a quick announcement and left. It was hard to hear anything over the noise of the aircraft. I leaned over to the airman beside me, the...

  • Vietnam Magazine

    Vietnam Book Review: American Warrior

    American Warrior: A Combat Memoir of Vietnam by Brig. Gen. John C. “Doc” Bahnsen Jr. with Wess Roberts. Citadel Press, New York, 2007, hardcover $24.95, softcover $16.95. American Warrior, described in the frontispiece as a “combat...

  • Vietnam Magazine

    Convoy Escort Service Extraordinaire

    Aboard its V-100s named for comic book heroes, the 66th Military Police Company battled the enemy evildoers for control of South Vietnam’s roads. No matter where you are, there should be some law and order, and this is especially true in...

  • Vietnam Magazine

    Civilian medic’s routine service in a Vietnam war zone

    As a civilian medic serving in the midst of war in Vietnam from 1965 to 1972, I had my share of close calls. I found myself in plenty of hairy experiences, often alongside GIs who displayed remarkable acts of courage and compassion, but...

  • Vietnam Magazine

    Photograph relieves one GI of his lingering guilt

    Over the years, the memories of my experience in Vietnam were becoming more and more faded. Had I actually spent some 60 days in the war? My neverceasing reminder that yes, I had been there, was the pain in my right knee. I had been...