My book is a story of a young man thrust from the world of religious life in a Massachusetts Roman Catholic seminary to being and Infantry Officer service in the US Army during the Vietnam War.
I am the narrator. I entered religious life in the Congregation of Holy Cross in Massachusetts in 1963 with the intent of being ordained a priest after six years of education, and living in a strict religious community of men very much like a monastery.
Surprised by the decision by the community to not advance me to ordination in 1968, I was left exposed to the selective service draft as the Vietnam war raged.
My journey begins the day I left the seminary.
This memoir shares my experiences in the US Army, from basic combat training to infantry advanced training to Infantry Officer Candidate school.
It was at Officers Candidate School where I had the hardest decision of my life to make – to become a non-combatant conscientious objector, risking the Army’s punishment and imprisonment for that decision.
Surviving the Army’s systematic punishment (“the Treatment”) during the long months of waiting for a decision in my case, I defied the will of my family, the demands of my church, while facing criminal charges by the US Army.
Various incidents and some of the people I met and dealt with at Fort Benning during that time helped to shape my war experiences in Vietnam.
While in Vietnam my war was not bang-bang like the infantry soldier. Instead I spent my war typing for generals, living in relative safety of a large Army installation, taking shelter from enemy rockets and attacks while on guard duty in the base bunker line.
I share some person to person dealings with local Vietnamese, my life with rear echelon officers and their twerks, and a scary combat experience.
The book ends where it began at the seminary in Massachusetts the week after I returned from the war.
This book is dedicated to all who object to waging war and do the hard work of waging peace.