Combat on the Dark Side of the Moon: A true combat story of the Brown Water Navy in Vietnam (Paperback)
Please go to https: //www.facebook.com/riverboatcombat to view sixteen 8mm film clips that I shot while in Vietnam, some of the clips correspond with stories in the book. Additionally you can go to youtube.com/user/riverboatcombat to view a short 2 minute video presentation of the book. This war story is not Rambo running through the jungle with a bowie knife clinched between his teeth and blasting away at the VC with a 50 cal. machine gun. It is simply the true story of two high school friends who transferred out of the regular "Blue Water" Navy and volunteered for combat with the Mobile Riverine Force, a part of the "Brown Water Navy" in South Vietnam. It is a story of their transitions, one who transitioned from life to death and one who transitioned to a Navy and a life in a world he did not know existed. South Vietnam was a combat zone where the United States government thought it was okay to dump caustic deadly Agent Orange on it's own troops. Where a twelve year old Viet Cong girl tried to shoot down a cobra gunship helicopter with an AK-47 rifle. Where Americans killed one another for racial reasons during an enemy mortar attack. Combat On The Dark Side Of The Moon gives readers a unique insight to the daily hardships of life on a riverboat in a disconcerting, unpopular war. When I arrived in Vietnam in January 1968 I was gung-ho for the mission. However, as the months dragged on I realized that the United States strategy of "search and destroy" was not working. After only 4 months in-country I knew if that strategy did not change the war was unwinnable for the United States. My high school friend Doug Morton was killed April 4, 1968, just 10 weeks into our tour. I thought after serving two years in the regular US Navy that I finally had manned up and was ready for anything, bring it on. I was wrong. Naive is not a strong enough word to describe how ingenuous I was going into Vietnam. The Navy partnered with the Army's 9th Infantry Division to carry combat troops into and around the small estuaries and canals of the Delta, a VC stronghold, searching out the Viet Cong. This turned out to be a very hazardous and deadly job both for the Navy and the Army. In a word Vietnam was a "trip," a bad trip. Every operation and every firefight was surreal, the long operational hours made the days blend into one another and the abnormal quickly became the normal. It was like living on the dark side of the moon with little or no contact with my family for many weeks at a time. Sadly Vietnam quickly became a reality for me and proved to be more dangerous as the weeks ground on. Trying to get a grip on daily life on the rivers was exhausting with little time off between grueling river operations against an intractable enemy. The book is a factual account of my journey from the beginning to the end of my tour, it reveals my transformation from a nice patriotic kid to a bitter & contemptuous combat veteran who's only goal was to arrive back home in one piece and of sound mind. This book is a historical document of one man's tour of duty in Vietnam, it is not a fictional romantic novel about love and war in a far off land. The story is not a history lesson about the civil war in Vietnam. The story does not judge the morality or the actions of the sailors on the riverboats. Some of the men serving believed in God and some did not. Most were afraid to die but even more were afraid of having an arm or a leg ripped off from an RPG rocket grenade. I want the readers to understand that the men who fought and died in Vietnam were just as "great" as the men of the "greatest generation" of WW2 in the performance of their duties. They did what they thought was the right thing to do at the time, they were patriotic and in most cases humble. Vietnam combat veterans never asked for anything special when they returned home from the war but they were treated with disrespect and criticism from the same American people who they were fighting for.
About the Author
Charlie Nesbitt was raised in Phoenix, Arizona and served nearly 4 years with the United States Navy before his honorable discharge in 1969. He spent the majority of his working career in guest service and law enforcement. He has been happily married for 41 years with 2 sons and 3 grandchildren. He waited 46 years to write his book about Vietnam simply because he did not think anybody would be interested in the story. The main purpose for writing the book now is to honor his high school friend Doug Morton who was killed in Vietnam only 10 weeks into their tour. Charlie hopes that his book will shine a light on the sailors and soldiers of the Mobile Riverine Force for their courage and sacrifices in the Mekong Delta of South Vietnam.