Item description for LBJ'S HIRED GUN: A Marine Corps Helicopter Gunner and the War in Vietnam by John Gebhart...
Many Vietnam memoirs have appeared in recent years, but not a single one has the humor, pathos, poignancy, and often sheer hilarity of John J. Gebhart's riveting LBJ'S Hired Gun. As Gebhart tells it, he was a "smart-mouthed college boy" who joined the Marines to see the world and "dust a few black pajamas for Uncle Sam." Two grueling tours of duty later (1965-1967) he returned home as a sergeant after surviving 240 combat missions (12 air medals) and being shot down twice. On his chest was the Navy Commendation Award (with the combat V). LBJ's Hired Gun launches with Gebhart's grim recollection of the intense old-school brutality that was Marine Corps training on Parris Island before transitioning to his difficult journey for Southeast Asia aboard a troop transport with 2,000 other nameless grunts. These hardships offered but a glimpse of the suffering he and his comrades were about to endure. PARA His candid account of life and death in Vietnam is written with a lively, infectious flair. But be forewarned: no attempt has been made to sanitize this memoir with politically-correct language. Gebhart tells his story exactly as he and his comrades spoke in the 1960s. The result is a gripping, no-holds-barred memoir of his "misadventures in-country." He spares no detail and no one in his effort to convey exactly what he and his comrades experienced in Vietnam. Here is how the author describes Vietnam: "What was not to like about Vietnam? It was a tropical paradise filled with lush green forests and mountains, endless rice paddies, and beautiful beaches with clear green water. You get all the free ammunition you want, endless cold beer to drink, and boom-boom girls to party with. Who could ask for more? Of course, there were some minor problems like all the VCs and NVAs who wanted to kill us. Everyone counted the days they had left before rotating back to the land of the big PX. I was having such a great vacation I signed up for another 12-month tour. I spent twenty-four action-filled months dusting VCs and NVAs, rescuing reconnaissance teams, flying LZ prep missions, delivering mail to bases where you came in shooting and flew out the same way. Somewhere along the line they decided I should be decorated for killing the enemy." This is not just another book about Vietnam written by an officer. LBJ's Hired Gun is the story of an enlisted man who lived on a dead-end street in West Philadelphia, intent on lifting your spirits and putting a smile on your face as you journey with him across the world and meet the people, explore the places, and relive the events that shaped Marine Corps history in Vietnam from September 1965 to September 1967. There are many outstanding Vietnam memoirs. LBJ's Hired Gun stands heads and shoulders above them all.
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Reviews - What do customers think about LBJ'S HIRED GUN: A Marine Corps Helicopter Gunner and the War in Vietnam?
Was I reading a comic book? May 22, 2008
At the risk of being hit with the "you wern't there, so how do you know" crutch, I must say I found this book silly and childish. It makes you wonder how much of these stories are embellished and to what degree. I felt like I was reading a combination of "Full Metal Jacket" and "Heartbreak Ridge" due to all the one-liners that have been used over the years. Can someone really throw dozens of dogs off a naval ship in the middle of the ocean with no repercussions? Can someone strike a naval officer, knocking his cap off without repercussions? Comic book! Don't waste your time and money on this one.
Best Vietnam War book ever, and also the funniest May 19, 2008
This book holds nothing back, and it gives you the honest truth of what combat was like in Vietnam, from a Marine who fought as a grunt and ended up a highly decorated aviation warrior. The combat stories are well written and give an excellent first-person account of what really happened, and the non-combat stories about Sgt. Gephardt's adventures In Country are some of the funniest stories that I've ever read.
Previously, my favorite first-person Vietnam War book was "Platoon Leader". This book is ten times better.
grabs and keeps your attention! Feb 21, 2008
Anyone who served on active duty during the 60's-70's, regardless of branch will recognize the language and terms he uses to describe what most of us encountered in uniform. The book as a whole is not all combat, but its real enough to be convincing that he experienced what he describes. Some of the specific instances might be fabricated or hearsay, but overall its a fine read. Its hard to put down; you find yourself back in a barracks or mess hall sitting with the other sailors/marines/airedales re hashing incidents you experienced during liberty. The language and slang he uses brought back alot of smiles from this career submarine sailor, re-living liberty in the Phillipines and Southeast Asia as a youngster trying to get away with as much as possible.
The combat he describes is totally believable as are the compadres he works with as a helicopter crewman/doorgunner. I would recommend this book to anyone who would like an idea of what the military was like during the vietnam war, and not just for the groundpounders. All branches of service encountered many of the attitudes displayed by arrogant officers, bored enlisted folks who only wanted to put in their time and civilians who took full advantage of those on active duty. Go ahead and check this one out....
LBJ's Hired Gun goes "Pop." Feb 10, 2008
I am an avid reader of military history and particularly like personal accounts. Author Gebhart takes us from Marine Corps Boot Camp at Parris Island to a war torn Vietnam in 1966-67. As a marine corps helicopter door gunner, he completes two tours of duty in Vietnam and is awarded 240 air medals along with other decorations. His personal accounts are for the most part interesting. However, there is some skepticism on my part as to the veracity of all of his tales. In many ways he comes across as a braggard and a bully and he leaves the reader wondering how much of his stories are not embellished to some degree. So instead of getting a big "Bang" from this book, it only went "Pop." This is an entertaining read. If fact and fiction could have been discerned, I would have given this book another star.