The Co-Vans

U.S. Marine Advisors in Vietnam

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Foreword by Edwin Howard Simmons

Depending upon where and when they served, Americans had vastly different experiences in the Vietnam War. Among the more unique experiences were those of the advisors who worked closely with their Vietnamese counterparts, sharing the dangers, privations, local politics, tactical victories, and ultimate defeat as part of the long saga of the Vietnam War. U.S. Marines worked more closely than other advisors with the Vietnamese and were often on their own to deal with the vastly different culture and difficult cause. Despite these obstacles and arduous circumstances, the advisors, called co-vans in Vietnamese, did a credible job amidst a war far from home, upholding the honor of the Corps and infusing their allies with an esprit de corps that made the Vietnamese Marines a potent fighting force.

John Miller, a co-van himself, has captured their experiences in this very readable, often humorous, sometimes poignant book. With the same writing style that earned him writing awards and thousands of readers in his earlier book on John Ripley's heroism at a bridge in Vietnam, Miller captures the grit of life in the field, the no-nonsense view of men at arms no matter what the nationality, and the smell of cordite in the air. But more than a combat memoir, this is an introspective and thought-provoking look at an unusual mission in a war in an inscrutable culture at a time when Americans and their values were under fire.

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