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Shore Duty: A Year in Vietnam's Junk Force Paperback – September 18, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: iUniverse; UNABRIDGED VERSION edition (September 18, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1440149461
  • ISBN-13: 978-1440149467
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,824,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Louis H. Hamlin on October 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had a difficult time putting down Harris' novel. He has described a year as senior naval adviser at a Vietnam Junk Base during 1968 and 1969. That particular "Shore Duty" is probably known to very few Americans. Assuming the 6 junk bases mentioned similarity had 4 American advisers, of the hundreds of thousands of troops in Vietnam, his experience was shared by only 20 other U.S. Navy personnel at a given time.

Located in an area that was enemy controlled in numbers of combatants that were far in excess of the Vietnamese and U.S. Navy people stationed at the base,there had to have been constant pressure on Harris, his 3 fellow Americans and all the Vietnamese there. To compound the pressure, Harris was aware that all his predecessor senior advisers had been killed.

And yet, Lt. Harris and his counterpart Vietnamese officer led land patrols and ambushes that were not defensive, but offensive. It appears that land combat was foreign to both the Vietnamese and U.S. forces. They were sailors, not soldiers so that much of what is described seems to have been invented by the participants on their own.

I was fascinated to learn about some of the 75 encounters during Harris' service that were not only survived, but mostly successful. That was bravery at it's best and surely could only be done by young men. Harris' Bronze Star should have been a Silver if for only keeping his composure under such dangerous circumstances.

Read the book; you will find it spellbinding and filled with action that makes one's mouth drop.

Louis Howard (Retired newspaper columnist.)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By penelope poorfarm on October 29, 2009
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During the time period of this story (1968-69) I was a college student and, then as now, female: e.g., not eligible for military service. This book is quite enough to make me thank my stars for that.

Stewart Harris and his half-handful of fellow Navy men occupied a Vietnamese no-man's land in more ways than one: all but surrounded by the enemy, all but forgotten by their own leadership, trying to do too much with too little. It is a miracle he survived, and no surprise his predecessors did not.

The tale is well told, for the most part understated, which belies how dire the situation was -- and with a measured dose of gallows humor.

I am grateful to Mr. Harris for affording me a window onto the frightful experience of his year In Country, from the safety of my chair by the fire. It was quite close enough, even so.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Daniel M. Pence on March 6, 2010
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Shore Duty by Stewart M. Harris is a gripping tale of what life was like for the men who served as advisors to the South Vietnamese Navy in the late 1960's at one of the Vietnamese coastal junk bases. Many of these bases were isolated from friendly forces and in danger of being attacked and overrun on any moonless night. In fact, Harris's Coastal Group 16 already had been overrun prior to his arrival, and none of his three predecessors survived their one year tour. In describing his experiences, he has brought to the surface the memories of that period in my life when I felt like, "This is not what I thought I was getting into when I joined the Navy." In this stirring account, Harris has effectively captured the mix of experiences and feelings of my one year tour: adventure and boredom, security and insecurity, self-assurance and self-doubt, trust and distrust, love the Vietnamese and hate the Vietnamese, "I will survive this one year tour" and "I may die tonight." Dan Pence, Senior Naval Advisor, Coastal Group 14, 1970-1971.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Ewen on February 24, 2010
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I received Shore Duty and was fascinated, reading it from cover to cover in record time. I served as a Med-evac helicopter pilot in the same area during the same time frame, but from this book I learned about a side of the war that I did not know existed. This account is extremely well written, with detail that only an observant participant could provide. I flew over his duty station, CG16, almost daily and had no idea what was going on there. Our glaring mistakes in the Vietnam War come to light in this excellent book. We need to take the lessons portrayed in this book and apply them to our current war. I highly recommend Shore Duty.

Jerry Ewen
Dustoff 57
Chu Lai Dustoff '68-'69
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael M Fowler on December 18, 2010
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Harris' book accurately tells what it was like. His courage in carrying out his mission in spite of lack of support is an impressive testimony to the tradition of American fighting men and an implicit critique of the command that projects us into such situations. Regardless of handicaps he, like many others found a way, kept his men safe, served with honor and got home. There is no better record of what it was like at a Coastal Group.
Mack Fowler
Senior Advisor Coastal Group 26 1970-71
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