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The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.

-- Sun Tzu

Platoon Bravo Company

Robert Hemphill (LTC Retired USA) commanded B/3/22 in the Tropic Lightning 25th Infantry Division from 1 October 1967 through 18 Feburary 1968. During this time Bravo Company fought sharp battles with the Viet-Cong along the Cambodian border until the 1968 Tet offensive where they fought around Cu Chi. One Bravo soldier, Spec4 Oliver Stone, would later in life create a controversial movie presumably reflecting his experiences with B/3/22. Bravo-6 Robert Hemphill publishes his side of the story in his command memoir Platoon Bravo Company.


This book spends little time addressing the movie Platoon. Bravo-6 Hemphill notes that the elusive enemy, red ants, and the jungle are legit in the movie, but bluntly states that he kept his men too busy to get into the trouble that is depicted in Oliver Stone's movie. It is noted that "Oliver Stone was a good soldier. He earned a couple of good medals and a righteous Purple Heart."


This memoir focuses on the Company commander's viewpoint of battle. Actions are usally depicted via the radio transmissions on the company-net and battalion-net, as well as the thoughts of the CO during battle. Using the imagery of the movie Platoon, one can vividly feel they are in Bravo-6's shoes as the radio squawks in the jungle during battle. One can feel the anxiety of a company CO as they fight a battle, look after their men, and deal with the higher-ups in the chain of command.


Platoon Bravo Company is a relatively short book, only covering the time period that the author was in command of Bravo. If you can remember the radio call signs (Falcon, Flexible, etc.) this book can flow very fast. I found myself constantly flipping pages back to figure out who "Falcon-6" was for example, which can slow down the story quite a bit.


Overall, this is quite an interesting story told from the battle sights of a Infantry Company Commander.


Added:  Friday, November 16, 2001
Reviewer:  Stan Herrman
Score:
hits: 7226
Language: eng

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