Dear Mom: A Sniper's Vietnam by Joseph T. WardDear Mom: A Sniper's Vietnam by Joseph T. Ward

Dear Mom: A Sniper's Vietnam

byJoseph T. Ward

Mass Market Paperback | August 31, 1991

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In Vietnam's jungle war, only one group of men was feared more than death itself—the Marine Scout Snipers. . . .

The U.S. Marine Scout Snipers were among the most highly trained soldiers in Vietnam. With their unparalleled skill, freedom of movement, and deadly accurate long-range Remington 700 bolt rifles, the Scout Snipers were sought after by every Marine unit—and so feared by the enemy that the VC bounty on the Scout Snipers was higher than on any other elite American unit.

Joseph Ward's letters home reveal a side of war seldom seen. Whether under nightly mortar attack in An Hoa, with a Marine company in the bullet-scarred jungle, on secret missions to Laos, or on dangerous two-man hunter-kills, Ward lived the war in a way few men did. And he fought the enemy as few men did—up close and personal.
Joseph T. Ward was born in 1949 and grew up in New Raymer, Colorado, population 100, in the heart of the Pawnee National Grassland. He began target shooting with a Remington single-shot .22-caliber rifle at the age of five, under the supervision of his mother, Doris, and older brother, Larry. His family moved to Longmont, Colorado, in ...
Title:Dear Mom: A Sniper's VietnamFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 6.87 × 4.28 × 0.72 inPublished:August 31, 1991Publisher:Random House Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0804108536

ISBN - 13:9780804108539

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Dear Mom - A Sniper's Vietnam For those who have not been to war, read and learn. For those that have, welcome home and thank you for all you have have sacrificed!
Date published: 2014-12-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Funny and Human, in a tough place. 2nd time of have read this book. A good insight into practice and coping with the impossible, not just about the snipers. The human side of Jo makes me wonder how I would cope. Happy I do not really have to find out. His relationships with officers are interesting, including promotions. His humour is also welcome on such a serious topic.
Date published: 2013-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dear Mom: A Sniper's Vietnam If you are looking for an honest, interesting and hard hitting book about the Vietnam War, I would highly recommend giving it a read. The author, Joseph T. Ward was only 19 when he volunteered for the USMC, and Scout Sniper school, subsequently being sent to Vietnam. Through the letters he writes home to his Mom, the reader gets a very interesting look into the type of relationship and grounding the letters provide. Amidst the perpetual chaos that surrounded Ward's life for 13 months in I Corps (with the 5th Marine Scout Sniper's based out of An Hoa), the Author paints a real life, detail ridden picture, in which much goes by un-said, but none the less absorbed.
Date published: 2013-01-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Footnote for the interested! This book seems very interesting and original. Why? You say? Because I haven't had a chance to read the whole thing, really only a few pages. Despite this, it's potential is immediately visible. Regardless, I would like to warn the potential reader to the fact that the author published a series of letters written to his mother and describing his actions overeas. The concept is original and makes for a potentially emotional reading. Note: I chose to rate this book at four stars based on it's potential not on actual content. Enjoy!
Date published: 2000-01-22

Read from the Book

Chapter I  A Few Good Men       1st Division Okinawa April 5th, 1969   Dear Mom, Well, I’m almost there. I’m in Okinawa and should be leaving for Da Nang today. It doesn’t seem like home is halfway around the world. We’ve been here a couple of days. I was feeling pretty blue when I got here, so I went to the EM club and got drunk.   In some sense, my involvement with the U.S. Marine Corps began with the summer of 1967, high school graduation, and four young men: Dave Young, Mike O’Grady, Nick Herrera, and myself.   Nick was quiet, short, stocky, and strong as a horse. Mike, an average, all-around nice guy, and state wrestling champ. Dave, tall and lanky, with the fastest hands in a fight I’ve ever seen. Me? I was into sports like Mike, except I liked basketball and track. Oh, yeah, my name’s Joseph T. Ward, J.T. to my friends. These differences didn’t keep us from becoming best friends in high school. If one of us did something off-the-wall, it was likely the other three were in on it, too. I’ve got to admit, we were pushing the limits of our manhood further all the time.   Graduation came and went like most major events in our lives, one big party, but it was different after high school. Suddenly we were faced with being separated, each to find his own way in life. Dave and I tried college and both quit in less than a year. We worked odd jobs, and the four of us partied together.   Longmont, Colorado, where we lived, was a small farming community of about thirteen thousand people. Its main industries were a sugar factory and a turkey processing plant, and its main claims to fame were quiet, tree-lined streets and an immense variety of birds. As teenagers, our primary pastimes were cruising Main Street, woodsy parties, and lots of rock and roll.   My mom was in her mid-forties and a single parent who worked long hours as a secretary in the oil business. My friends liked her because they knew they could count on her for a meal or a place to stay when needed; she treated them as one of her own.   Early 1968 found Mike, Nick, Dave, and me sitting on the hoods of our cars on one of the lonely back country roads we knew so well. Bolstered by beer, the conversation wasn’t the usual talk about girls, cars, or parties. We were wondering what the hell we were going to do with the rest of our lives, when the talk turned to the military.   I’m from a family with a long, and honorable military history, but there hadn’t been a Marine in the family yet. I decided to be the first. When I brought the subject up, Mike, Nick, and I were surprised to learn that Dave had already joined the navy. Our discussion continued, along with the demise of several more cans of beer. Mike and Nick decided to go into the Marine Corps with me on the buddy plan. Dave was hesitant, but to keep us together he switched to the Marines. We sealed the pact with a toast.   Joining on the delayed entry program gave us a couple extra months at home before we were standing in a crowded room at the Customs building, being sworn into the Marine Corps. We were then flown to the MCRD (Marine Corps Recruit Depot) in San Diego. Mike was seventeen years old. Nick, Dave, and I were eighteen.   Our first taste of the Marine Corps came as we got off the bus at the staging area and were greeted by a vision straight from hell with a name to match—Drill Instructor Sergeant Graves. I can’t think of too many things more depressing than having a DI named Graves. He closely eyed each of us when we stepped from the bus.   He gathered us into a platoon-size formation, walked back and forth, looking mostly at the ground, shaking his head. He stopped pacing, spread his feet, put his hands on his hips, and stared. He was silent for a moment, and then began with, “So you candy ass mama’s boys want to be Marines, huh?”   “Yes, sir.”   “I can’t hear you.”   “Yes, sir.”   “I still can’t hear you.”   “Yes, sir!”   “Well you can forget your mamas, I’m your mama now and the proper response will be: sir, yes, sir or sir, no, sir. Do you understand me, you sorry, hippie-looking bastards?”   A mixture of “yes, sirs” and “sir, yes, sirs” came from the ranks. Graves looked at the ground and shook his head again. We came to know this as his usual gesture when the platoon screwed up. When only one man made a mistake, he used a more personal, savage, nose-to-nose, eye-to-eye stare.   He strolled back and forth for the next fifteen minutes, using a steady flow of swear words with an occasional comment on what was expected of us. He stopped pacing and became quiet again. Slowly, methodically, he lit a cigarette and strolled upwind of us. I caught a light whiff of smoke and thought how much I wanted one. Graves walked back to the center of his latest platoon and casually said, “The smoking lamp is lit for one cigarette.”   There was a rustle as we reached for our cigarettes, but before anyone could light up, he said, “And I’m gonna smoke it.” A low groan swept through the platoon. Graves walked upwind of us again, and I began to wonder where a guy like him came from. He stood in front of eighty confused boys and blew smoke in the air for everyone to see. He didn’t look at us when he finally said, “Light up, and I don’t want to see one single butt on the deck.”   Graves was six feet two and 220 pounds of pure mean, but he was one of the best DIs at MCRD. I had no idea at the time that he and I would later develop a strange friendship. He stood motionless, legs spread, hands on his hips and staring, constantly staring.   “They send me worse-looking peckerheads each time.” He moved toward a recruit, grabbed him by the shirt collar, pulled him face to face and shouted. “Why the fuck you want to be in my Marine Corps, boy?” He shoved him back in line before he could answer. He did the same thing to several people, but when he got to a small guy, he lifted him right off the ground.   “How in the hell did you get in my Marine Corps? I have bigger wet dreams than you!”   “Sir, I wanted in, sir.”   Pretty soon he was there, in front of me, looking as though he expected me to say something. I was still holding the manila envelope with my orders in it, which a sergeant had given me at the airport. I handed Graves the envelope, and he opened it without taking his eyes off mine.   “What’s your name, boy?”   “Sir, Ward, sir.”   “You’re a squad leader now.”   He quickly worked his way through the platoon and picked his three other squad leaders: Dave Young, a streetwise guy by the name of Johnson, and a gung ho dude named Perry. We were then marched to the barber shop. To say we marched is giving us too much credit. Half of us were out of step, and the other half stumbled into those trying to keep some kind of rhythm. We were a sad looking lot, especially with Graves swearing at us constantly.   I was in charge of 4th Squad, and we had to stand by as the men of the other three squads entered one end of the barber shop, looking fine, only to emerge from the other side rubbing the tops of their heads. Some were swearing, and a few were bleeding, either from a sliced-off wart in their hairline or from scratches made by what I would more liken to sheep shears than something used to cut human hair. After my turn, I walked down the steps doing the same thing, trying to find hair on my head, and that’s the way it would stay all through boot camp.   While we got our hair cut, Graves chose his “house mice,” the smallest man in each squad. House mice kept the DI’s hut clean and made sure Graves had freshly starched uniforms and spit-shined shoes. If a DI wanted an errand run, the call went out for a specific house mouse. They would be replaced from time to time by someone on punishment detail.   Our next stop was a building with rows of semiprivate booths. A cardboard box, an envelope, a pencil, and one sheet of paper were set neatly on each wooden table. We took off our civilian clothes, put them in the box, and addressed it home. We sat naked on that cold cement floor and wrote a very quick letter home to say we were doing fine. Man, that was some line. We were eighty cold, scared kids.     Company B, MCRD San Diego, California August 23, 1968   Dearest Mom, Grandma and Laura,   This letter will have to do for all of you. We’re only allowed one letter so far. All I can say for this outfit is that it’s rough.   I have ten minutes to write this and address it, so I’ll have to make it short. I miss everyone very much. Hope you’re missing me, too. Well, I’ve got to close this and get it addressed or I’ll be in trouble. I love you all very much. Please take care.   Love, Joe