What was it really like to be a soldier in Vietnam? What was it like to be a medic, or a nurse, or a protest singer, or a refugee, or a veteran of the war? There are many stories in this book, including one about a man named Mike Horan, who grew up in foster homes. He was one of the first soldiers that was sent to Vietnam, at the beginning of the United States’ conflict with the country. Horan found himself being taken prisoner by North Vietnamese and thought for sure his life was over. He was captured after the jeep he was in hit a land mine. As the four Vietnamese took into the jungle, he didn’t have much hope of making it out alive.
Another man named Gilbert De La O shared his experience of being in a fire fight, pinned down in the jungle while he was operating the radio for his commanding officer – a job that put a target on his back since the radio operators were typically killed so they couldn’t relay messages or give information. Interspersed between interviews with soldiers, medics, nurses and others are chapters on the leaders of the time from J.F. Kennedy to Nixon and also people who were decenters.
Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam by Elizabeth Partridge gives readers a clear understanding from all sides what the war experience was like for the people living through it at the time and how it impacted their lives.
Recommended for 8th grade and up.