It is estimated that between 30,000 and55,000 women took part in the Vietnam War serving in both active military andcivilian duty capacities. It is the purpose of Dog Tags & Wedding Bands byJoe Rosato to bring attention to the brave women who served as civilianvolunteers. Pulling from his time as a Naval serviceman during the war,Rosato's historical fiction transports readers into the minds of the surviving"brothers" in action, and the massive weight still carried on their shoulderstoday.
In this story, the main character Chet (a U.S. Navy man whoreceived a purple-heart for his tour in Vietnam) is sent reeling back into thedark days of war after the tragedy of his wife's death combines with theincoming of Hurricane Katrina. Chet begins hearing an ominous gurgling sound inhis mind that is reminiscent of a sound he heard while working naval riverboats in Vietnam. With his wife now gone, he decides to take a trip back to thesouth-Asian nation and follow his intuition to make the gurgling cease.
As the mystery of the gurgling unfolds, Chet teams up with a localSouthern-Vietnamese man who was miraculously in the same part of the delta asChet during the war. The two unravel the puzzle surrounding the suddendisappearance of two young American Red Cross nurses stationed near Chet's baseand work tirelessly to shed light on their sacrifice.
The flow of this book leaves readers a bit perplexed as they tryto follow the story. The scenes often shift from present to past or from Chet'spoint of view to that of the missing women with no indication of transitionwhatsoever. That, combined with the strange choice of tense for the narrativevoice, didn't make for the smoothest read. Frequently repeating phrases onlyone sentence apart and riddled with errors, the bones of this book barely holdtogether what is an otherwise enthralling story.
I did enjoy the "historical" part of this fiction. This storytakes place during the time of the Tet Offensive and Typhoon Cobra, and thedetailed references to these events were both informative and interesting.Rosato's keen imagery presented scenes and emotions in an easily digestible wayfor readers. His juxtaposition between men arriving for war and men leavingpainted a moving picture for the audience. The inclusion of the women'sperspectives was particularly enlightening. The jobs done by the combat nursesand the women of entertainment (like the Donut Dollies) were discussed with atone of reverence and gratitude.
Although much of this book was the same scene over and over givenfrom a different perspective, it was broadening for me as someone who knowsvery little about the Vietnam War. This book will likely be enjoyed by vets orthose interested in learning about the war. The book's flow and writing were particularlypoor, and I wavered for some time on scoring this read. Although a 2-rating iswhat initially felt right to me, I am rating this book 3 out of 4 stars for theexciting creation of a believably relevant story and its highlight of theservices often gone unrecognized by female volunteers.
From the Author
My story tries helps bring attention to the sacrifices made during a dark moment of our countries history.