Dead Center: A Marine Sniper's Two-year Odyssey In The Vietnam War by Ed KuglerDead Center: A Marine Sniper's Two-year Odyssey In The Vietnam War by Ed Kugler

Dead Center: A Marine Sniper's Two-year Odyssey In The Vietnam War

byEd Kugler

Mass Market Paperback | May 29, 1999

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Raw, straightforward, and powerful, Ed Kugler's account of his two years as a Marine scout-sniper in Vietnam vividly captures his experiences there--the good, the bad, and the ugly. After enlisting in the Marines at seventeen, then being wounded in Santo Domingo during the Dominican crisis, Kugler arrived in Vietnam in early 1966.

As a new sniper with the 4th Marines, Kugler picked up bush skills while attached to 3d Force Recon Company, and then joined the grunts. To take advantage of that experience, he formed the Rogues, a five-sniper team that hunted in the Co Bi-Than Tan Valley for VC and NVA. His descriptions of long, tense waits, sudden deadly action, and NVA countersniper ambushes are fascinating.

In DEAD CENTER, Kugler demonstrates the importance to a sniper of patience, marksmanship, bush skills, and guts--while underscoring exactly what a country demands of its youth when it sends them to war.
A former Marine scout-sniper, Ed Kugler served two tours in Vietnam as a sniper and sergeant with the 4th Marines in I Corps. He is the recipient of two Purple Hearts and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. He is the author of the inspirational self-help booklet A Dozen Things I Learned About Life as a Marine Sniper in Vietnam. Followin...
Title:Dead Center: A Marine Sniper's Two-year Odyssey In The Vietnam WarFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:392 pages, 6.9 × 4.2 × 0.8 inPublished:May 29, 1999Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0804118752

ISBN - 13:9780804118750

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dead center Definitely one of the better Vietnam sniper books, I have really enjoyed reading this book so much so that It's been hard to put down at times
Date published: 2014-12-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from BEST BOOK EVER If you like vietnam books like me, this is the best book i have ever read. YOU BETTER GET IT.
Date published: 2003-02-12

Read from the Book

CHAPTER ONE   Snipers Up … Hell Yes!   It might be January, but it’s hotter than hell. The sun’s streaming through the trees, creating shadows that streak across the sergeant’s face. He’s working himself into a thick lather as he describes what Nam’s like. It’s for the education of trainees like me in the audience. “At night, it’s blacker than the inside of an ape’s ass at midnight!” he bellows. He’s dark with a Nam tan; his looks betray his irrational nature. He works to impress the fifty or so of us, the fresh meat, seated on makeshift wooden benches. It’s jungle training, it’s Camp Pendleton, and it’s weird.   My mind drifts away from his antics to my arrival in California just two days earlier. I’m back sitting in a little park just outside the bus station in Oceanside. I’m fresh in from the frigid January winds of Cleveland. And I love the warm, short-sleeve weather of Southern California. I sit, listening to someone’s radio playing “Monday Monday.” Me, the Mamas and the Papas, and all this wonderful weather, how can it be? I’m sitting in Oceanside, waiting for my bus to Pendleton, and I think, Man, this’ll be a good place to come when all the Marine and Nam stuff is over. This is nice, it’s damned nice!   Well that was a couple days ago, and this is now. I’m listening to a sergeant rant and rave about our fate, how half of us are coming home flat-ass on a stretcher or dead, dumb, and cold in a body bag. He’s screaming at anyone who falls asleep. He blasts one Marine with, “You asshole, you’re gonna get people killed.” I don’t know if it was the heat, the Mamas and the Papas, or “California Dreamin’,” but none of what he was saying registered with me. I just wanted to get through the shit and get it on. We were in “jungle training,” California style. I guess it was all the Corps had on short notice; the Nam buildup caught everyone off guard. We were in jungle training, but there wasn’t a jungle within a thousand miles of Camp Pendleton.   Our training would last four weeks. Then, we’d each be individual replacements for Marine units already calling Vietnam home. For the grunt trainee, peacetime life in the Corps sucked. It was major boring. And jungle training for Nam was no exception. We’d split our days getting Nam ready, physically and mentally. Then we’d learn the skills necessary to stay alive and kill gooks when we got there.   Getting in shape was a major ball buster. We’d be out back of the camp some damn place, humping the barren hills in full battle gear all day long. Between the heat of the California sun and the weight we were humping, our thighs were always burning. The climb up those bastardly hills was a major ass kicker. “You assholes get in shape,” the sergeant would scream, “or you’ll get your ass left behind in Nam!”   The very thought of being left behind in Nam kept most of us going. Who the hell wanted to be left behind in Nam or anywhere for that matter? What the hell is Nam anyway? I didn’t know, but hell, I wanted to go anyway. I wanted to serve my country. That’s what the Corps was all about. That’s why I joined. We all felt that way.   Training with all the guys I didn’t know was boot camp all over. It didn’t have the restrictions, but it was a foreign affair for me. I only knew a couple of the guys out of the hundreds going through training. I was never one to just join in with groups I didn’t know; I usually had only one or two close friends at a time. Jungle school was no exception. I occasionally saw a couple of guys who were in Santo Domingo with me, but it was rare. It was all like starting over. I felt the Corps could do better with units that were formed and trained intact. But it wasn’t to be.   Before long I struck up with a kid just out of boot camp. He was from Houston. I knew him only as Thompson, his last name and the universal military tag.   Thompson was a really nice kid. Like me, he’d joined the Corps at seventeen, but he went to boot camp in San Diego, then got his orders for Nam. He wasn’t as excited about the prospect as I was. He was seventeen years old, and I was eighteen, and I had Santo Domingo under my belt, and that made me an old salt to him. Thompson even looked young. Too damn young to be married! I couldn’t believe that when he told me. Told me he married a Mexican girl he went with in high school. Did it as soon as he found out he was going to Nam. What the hell was he thinking?   I didn’t need to agree with him to like him; we hit it off from day one and stayed together all through training, beside each other every step of the way. Up and down, up and down as we humped endlessly through the hills around Pendleton. Marching every morning to get in shape. Each afternoon, we tried to keep each other awake in the face of our instructors’ endless droning. We’d get their drift early on, but that didn’t stop them; they made the “gooks,” as they called them, out to be purely invincible. They told us story after story about how the Viet Cong could sneak up to a sentry in the middle of the night, slit his throat, then be gone before his buddies even knew he was dead.   Even with all of us knee-deep in boredom, some stories began a wave of emotion that would wash over the half-attentive audience, drawing responses from the disbelief of “Give me a fucking break,” to the fear of “Oh my God, how will I survive?” Thompson worried a lot. He just wanted to go to Nam, do his duty, and get back in one piece. He talked endlessly of the life he wanted to build with his little lady. He didn’t want some gook sneaking up and ending his dreams. I had no dreams like his but I still didn’t believe some little bastard could sneak up and slit my throat without my knowing about it either. They were human weren’t they?   I’d have to wait ’til Nam to know for sure. Training continued to be a drag, but the mock-up of the booby-trapped village got my attention. It was the next to last stop in training at jungle school, and the instructors were enthusiastic Nam vets. After my first walk, I was paranoid for sure. And if I was paranoid, then Thompson was a basket case. He hadn’t looked forward to Vietnam before, and after all the stories of gore from the booby traps, he was down for the count.   They said the booby-trap village was a replica of what we’d find in Vietnam. It had grass huts and trails and everything else needed to simulate what we would run into as Nam grunts. I wanted to go to Nam, but I didn’t want that cannon fodder bullshit that I’d seen in Santo Domingo. Grunts are beautiful, but they’re usually the first dead. The booby traps focused my attention better than all the lectures we’d endured. I could look at a punji pit with its razor-sharp stakes and see firsthand what a bummer that’d be. The idea of the stakes alone was bad enough without having to worry about some gook rubbing his shit on them to infect my wounds.   We’d been training hard and we needed a break; we’d had daily early morning runs, hikes that lasted all day, and hour after hour of afternoon lectures. By the time we had finished the hands-on booby-trap training, two weeks had passed, during which we’d spend lots of evenings in the pool, taking swimming tests, so we were ready for a break. Lighten up, guys, we’ll be ready for Nam … a break, okay, just a break?   Finally word came that the next weekend was ours: a seventy-two-hour pass! I’d run into an old buddy from Dom Rep and the 6th Marines. He suggested we go to Tijuana, Mexico. The old salts called it TJ. All I knew was that it was south of California somewhere. Thompson didn’t want to make the trip, but I convinced him to come along and have some fun. “What could it hurt?” I said. My Dom Rep friend, Hanscomb, brought along a buddy of his, and the four of us were off to TJ.   First thing Saturday morning, we boarded a bus from the base to Oceanside. There, we changed buses for the two-hour ride south to Tijuana. It was a gorgeous day. The more I saw of California, the more I loved what I saw. The ride was great, the time raced by, and we soon passed through San Diego and on to the border. We got off the bus on the U.S. side, right at the border.   Hanscomb said he knew the way; he’d been there on his last tour at Pendleton. He was elated, said he couldn’t wait to see our faces when we saw Tijuana. His buddy played along with him; either he’d been there before or didn’t want to let us first timers know that he hadn’t.