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MILITARY BOOKS

Charlie Palek

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Charlie Palek, USA, is the author of Tattletale: A Two-Tour Vietnam Veteran's Combat Experiences on the Ground and in the Air and a co-author of The Art of the Human Form: Contemporary Photographic Interpretations.

David Volz, Nashville News said of Tattletale: A Two-Tour Vietnam Veteran's Combat Experiences on the Ground and in the Air, “Charlie Palek knows military history may be written by generals and politicians, but the stories they tell are really about those who fought and died. Palek's book, "Tattletale," offers a no-holds-barred portrait of the joys and miseries of a combat soldier in the Vietnam War, in what he calls "a dark time in this country's history."

 

Some 30 years after he came home from his second tour, Palek decided his experiences were worth recording. The reader can almost feel the oppressive heat and humidity, smell the gun oil, sweat and burning flesh, hear the gunfire and screams, know the coppery taste of fear and see the horrible sights that become all too common in war.

 

His brutally honest writing style, seasoned with humor, recounts his two combat tours in Vietnam during the height of the war and the part he played in two of the best known battles, the Tet Offensive and the incursion into Cambodia. His book also touches upon the anti-war protests, the incredibly inept government policies and the reactions of friends and family at home. Charlie found himself in the 3rd Battalion, 47th Infantry of the 9th division and joined the Mobile Riverine Force. The outfit suffered an 80 percent casualty rate as they patrolled the Mekong Delta, south of Saigon. As a radio telephone operator (RTO), someone called him "tattletale" because it was his job "to tell on the enemy" when a firefight erupted. RTOs were prime targets for snipers. For the next 22 months, he humped the paddies in search of Victor Charlie.


Tattletale: A Two-Tour Vietnam Veteran's Combat Experiences on the Ground and in the Air
Charlie Palek  More Info

The reader quickly learns that Vietnam was a war with no front lines and no clear objectives; endless, mind-numbing patrols punctuated all-too-frequently by gut-wrenching violence. Palek tells what ponchos were really good for, why flak vests were seldom worn and what it's like to have a huge tarantula crawl over your face. The jungles, rice paddies and canals tormented the grunts with skin infections and mosquitoes "the size of helicopters."  His book is filled with tales of good buddies ("we fought for each other, not the government") good and incompetent officers, and the hardships suffered by the Vietnamese civilians. Humor was a coping tool for Palek. "That's what kept me sane." Various experiences are tied nicely with Murphy's Laws of Combat, such as "If your attack is going really well, it's an ambush;" "When in doubt, empty your magazine;" and "Friendly fire--isn't."

 

Paleks second tour gave him the job of door gunner in a helicopter. Unbelievable, his second tour in the air provided even more intense combat experiences. Many times Palek looked directly into the eyes of the enemy. The incursion into Cambodia was the "most intense experience of my life" as U.S. troops finally took the battle to the enemy's previously untouchable sanctuaries across the border. The book discusses all the happenings at home with anti-war protestors. By the end of the second tour, a military career no longer looked so inviting. "There were too many idiots in charge." Palek's closing words of his book accurately sum up his view of this most controversial war. "The men that faced bullets everyday, whether they were on the ground, on the water or in the air, did a damned fine job and I hope they never forget that." Let no one forget that.”

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