Mr. Bill and Miz Mona

Friday, August 26, 2011

Moose Pass Journal/Book # 2/ 8/26/2011

Bill Says: First off, today in our son, Joshua Troy Casselman's 27th Birthday. He was born in Skagway, Alaska.

Okay, this synopsis is for my very first completed manuscript and it is entitled, "Operation Apache Snow- a Story of Viet Nam". Oddly enough, when I decided to change the setting and story line, preferring to write about my time in Viet Nam, I suffered writer's block. Once I returned to this story, everything began to flow again. I have also written a sequel to this story, but it needs final editing.


A work of Christian fiction, Operation Apache  Snow is an action based story primarily set in 1969 Viet Nam and it tells of the many young Christian boys, who right out of high school, became men in a very few short moments. How they came face to face with their deepest fears and a challenge of faith, when they lost their youthful innocence with the simple pull of a trigger, and of the grief they suffered in watching their friends suffer from wounds or death.

In many cases, such boys lost their faith in their Lord Jesus Christ and in a lesser sense their faith in their government. Most of these same soldiers suffered severe forms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for decades to come and sadly, only a few would renew their faith in God.

The main character in this story is one such young man, who came from a strong Christian middle-class family in Southern California. Matthew Kendal is a pastor's son, who was raised on the Word of God and is engaged to his high school sweetheart- Kathy Lee.

After participating in a high school varsity track meet, Matthew returned home to learn of his older brother's death in Viet Nam. Angry, especially with God for allowing this to happen, he turns from his faith, puts aside his plans for Bible College and marriage to enlist in the US Army. Matthew also volunteers for duty in Viet Nam and carries a dangerous blood thirst for vengeance and becomes a proud member of the 101st Airborne- the Screaming Eagles.

During training, Matthew befriends Pvt. John Adams; a troubled Black youth from Washington DC. Adams, like many others, was given a choice between going to jail for car theft or enlistment in the military. Later, while both men are going through jump school together, they befriend, Pvt. Jose Martinez; a street wise Chicano, who left behind the gang life of East Los Angeles  to fulfill a promise to his dying mother. These three young men become an unlikely trio, who stand-up  against racial pressures from all fronts and face head-on the rigorous and often painful weeks of boot camp and airborne training.

As fictional characters, these characters are placed into an actual rifle squad of D Company, 3rd Battalion, which participated in Operation Apache Snow. History now remembers this operation as the epic May 10-May 20, 1969 battle for Hamburger Hill.

Here the 101st Airborne suffered previously unheard of losses; 70-killed and 422 men wounded. For 11-days they were pounded by torrential rain fall, forced to slosh through knee-deep mud and face relentless enemy fire, but still they made the heroic climb to claim the summit of Hill 937.

Outnumbered, they nearly reach the top, when the 29th North Vietnamese Army counter-attacked with fresh troops. But refusing to give up, D Company pushed forward with one goal in mind; to take the summit at all costs. Their courage entices the rest of the battalion and on their 11th drive up the mountain, they breach the summit defenses, where the battle continued on in brutal hand-to-hand combat.

Jose Martinez sacrifices his life to save Matthew by jumping upon a grenade, but before this battle is over both Matthew and John are severely wounded and left crippled for life.

However, the story doesn't end there, it continues on with how Matthew and John renew their faith in God and remain close for the rest of their lives. As disabled veterans they face the new challenges of civilian life and come home to such accusatory names like "baby killer", and "Nixon's gestapo". They begin to witness a nation renewing itself with the unveiling of the Viet Nam Memorial- The Wall.

John finds the Lord's teachings instrumental in his drug rehab and community work, while Matthew, who finished Bible College, entered the ministry. As their families grow in time, Matthew and John are part of a group of Christian Viet Nam veterans who return to Viet Nam. Only this time they are not carrying M-16s, but they risk much by smuggling Bibles for the growing number of underground Christian churches in a communist country.

Though this story chronicles the battle for Hamburger Hill, Operation Apache Snow also tells of the men's loved ones back home in the world, of worried parents who wait for every letter from their son, Matthew, and how Kathy Lee's confusion with an anti-war rally and the riot to follow leads her to writing Matthew a Dear John letter. There is also the ever so vivid nightly news casts that became more graphic with the passing years and brought the war's violence right into the family's living room.

Unlike other Viet Nam war novels, Operation Apache Snow speaks of the busy life of a North Vietnamese medic. Trapped inside the mountain, Lin He Que, a member of the 29th North Vietnamese Army, struggles to keep his comrades a live with limited medical supplies. Weary from lack of sleep and seeing so many of his friends die, Que had a startling confrontation with a wounded Matthew upon the mountain's summit. Unable to  kill Matthew because of his convictions as a medic, Que leaves him alive in a trench and flees down the mountain. 30-years later, Matthew and Que are brought together by God in the hallways of a Hanoi hospital. Que, now a surgeon and disillusioned with communism, listens to Matthew's word of forgiveness and God's love and eventually accepts Jesus Christ into his life. He becomes instrumental in help with Viet Nam's underground church movement.

Note: It is not surprising that the reader will find how my main three characters closely resemble the three soldiers cast in the Viet Nam Memorial Statue. Matthew is a composite of the 18019 year old white middle-class, while John and Jose represent the ethnic and often uneducated minorities sent to Viet Nam in droves. These are the men who became the country's strong backbone, whose courage and sacrifice would be forever enshrined on the Wall.

It was my goal in writing this story to show that through a time of great violence and fear, moral upheaval  and barbarism, that in such a lengthy conflict and its aftermath, there can also be found a time of spiritual growth, repentance, forgiveness and brotherhood, and prayer. This was Viet Nam.  

That's it for Book # 2. Thanks for reading and God Bless!

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