Cong Catchers: A Soldier’s Memories of Vietnam
Cong Catchers is the story of a young man who was drafted into the army and sent to Viet Nam two weeks after marrying his wife. Lee Halverson was a man with principles and he lived by them. It was normal for young soldiers with time off to go down town to get drunk and get laid. But Lee wanted to remain true to the vows he had taken with his wife. So in his time off he wanted to do something constructive. He found an orphanage that had been damaged by rocket and mortar fire and began to rebuild it. Eventually, other soldiers from his company quit going to town and began joining in the rebuilding project. Each soldier found two or three orphans to befriend and call their own. “The Wop” was the toughest soldier in the outfit and chose a little boy who had been hit in the face with napalm as his little friend. He was very protective of this little boy and protected him from the bullying and hazing he had become used to because of his appearance.
One night a little boy showed up at Lee’s barracks and said “G.I. be in bunker at eight o’clock tonight. At eight o’clock that night the barracks was attacked by mortar and rocket fire. And from that night on the soldiers were warned of oncoming attacks by the children of the orphanage. We were taking care of them and they were taking care of us.
One of Lee’s friends volunteered for a suicide mission. Lee asked him why and Dale pointed to a newspaper on his bunk. Lee picked up Dale’s hometown newspaper and saw the wedding picture of Dale’s girl friend. Lee wrote to Ginny and told her that Dale’s girl friend had married without even telling Dale. He suggested that she write a letter to Dale. A while later, Dale came down to Lee’s bunk area and held out a box. “Hey, Dad, do you want a brownie? Your wife sent me brownies!” Other men in the unit got “dear john” letters as well. Dale simply told them to write a letter to Ginny. “She’ll write to you,” he said. By the end of the tour Ginny was writing to six men whom she had never met but needed her friendship. Lee and Ginny attend reunions of the 981st M.P.s and no one is interested in seeing Lee. They all want to see Ginny, the girl that took the time to write to them when they were down and out.
When they came home from Viet Nam, they were spit upon and called baby killers. Agent Orange has taken its toll on many of them. Over half Lee’s friends are either dead or suffering from some malady as a result of being exposed to Agent Orange. They were sprayed and betrayed.
This is not the typical book written about war. It’s not about guns and bullets. It’s about the everyday experiences of a group of young men that were drafted into war. Read this book and join them by experiencing the horrors of basic training all the way to the horrors of war itself.
Lee spent January 1969 to December 1970 in the US Army. Cong Catchers is a compilation of events that occurred while he served. This is not a guns-and-ammo book. It is a book about a young man with Christian values at war. A young man who avoided the pleasures that were readily available and instead organized football games, drank soda, avoided drugs, and helped repair orphanages. You will enjoy meeting many of those he served with and the ways they coped in very adverse conditions. These young men served our country with valor and returned home to a less-than-friendly society