A Veteran’s Day Must-Read
First, in honor of Veteran’s Day, I want to mention a book that isn’t new at all, but it was new to me about six months ago. The author of A Corpsman’s Legacy wrote to me about her book shortly after shedding tears reading Second Watch. I can tell you that I certainly shed tears as I read hers, and I’m betting you will, too.
Suppose there was a little girl who grew up knowing she was adopted. Suppose that the same girl, as a college student, went to Washington, DC, where she stood in front of a certain panel at the Vietnam War Memorial and wondered about all the names etched on that piece of polished granite. Then, when she was in her late twenties, that same girl, faced with a serious medical condition, reached out to her birth family. Suppose that search led her to a birth mother who, having lost her boyfriend to the Vietnam War, gave her child up for adoption. And suppose, even later, the girl discovers that when she visited the Vietnam War Memorial years earlier, she had unwittingly paused to study the very panel containing her father’s name.
That’s the basic premise behind Stephanie Caisse’s moving memoir, A Corpsman’s Legacy. It’s the story of a young woman’s determined search to find and honor Gary Norman Young, the father she never knew. This book touched me. It reads like a mystery as Stephanie follows the clues leading one by one to two welcoming families–families she never knew she had. As she learns who her father was, she slowly unravels the secrets surrounding his death and finally sees to it that he is posthumously awarded the mistakenly withheld medals and honors that should have been granted to him and his family decades earlier.
There were a lot of unsung heroes during and after the Vietnam War. You met two of them, Doug Davis and Bonnie Abney, in my book Second Watch, and you’ll meet two more, Gary Young and his daughter, Stephanie Caisse, in A Corpsman’s Legacy. Put this one in your to-be-read stack, digital or otherwise. You won’t be sorry.
New York Times Best-Selling Author
A Corpsman’s Legacy Continues (CreateSpace, 200 pp., $15, paper, $3.99 Kindle) resumes the quest that began with Stephanie Hanson Caisse’s A Corpsman’s Legacy eight years ago. In the new book, Caisse expands her search for the military history of her father–Gary Norman Young–who died in action two months before her birth.
Caisse continues to keep the memory of her father alive by meeting and talking with veterans of the Vietnam War, in which he died. At the same time, she develops new friends from today’s Marine Corps helicopter squadron HMM–364—the Purple Foxes. Her father flew with that unit as a Navy corpsman.
The key to uncovering her father’s history has been Caisse’s perseverance as she has traced seemingly every lead to reveal details of her father’s military life and death. She contacted people who guided her to more people and to otherwise-forgotten paperwork. Her determination resulted in a formal presentation of her father’s medals to his family, along with his Combat Air Crew Wings. A bonus of her research has been reuniting veterans who had not seen each other for decades.
Caisse’s writing style is enthusiastic. She continually promotes Navy medical corpsmen and the Marine Corps. Her website once was “corpsmankid”; now it is “acorpsmanslegacy.com.”
Speaking of corpsmen’s innate, selfless sense of duty, she says, “My father lived that kind of life. I don’t focus on the fact that he died doing it, but that he lived to do it.”
Sharing what she has discovered, Caisse has helped next-of-kin to cope with their losses. For example, what she learned about her father included information about the six crewmen killed alongside him, and she passed that information to their family members.
In 2003, when the Purple Foxes deployed to Iraq, Caisse broadened her friendships with active-duty personnel. In 2007, during its fourth deployment, the squadron lost one of its CH-46 Sea Knights to a surface-to-air missile, and Cassie took it on herself to collect all available information for the next-of-kin. She wrote a tribute to each of the seven service members aboard the lost helicopter.
This book includes a transcript of a long speech in which Caisse tells the story of her quest for those who did not read her first book.
The VVA Veteran
My name is Larry C. Tasby, Former Platoon Commander in Vietnam, ’68–’69. Recently, I received from my Company Commander, Duane Crawford, a couple of autographed books that you wrote. I completed “A Corpsman’s Legacy” a few days ago and immediately started “A Corpsman’s Legacy Continues.” I deliberately read the first book one or two chapters per day, in an effort to savor each word. It was like reliving my past life in words. As a Platoon Commander, I had to keep a log of events that happened in my platoon to be used for reports, presenting awards or disciplinary actions. Knowing where we were at all times was critical, as a Grunt. I checked a couple of my old logbooks and found that many things you wrote about hit home. The month of February, 46 years ago, was a very challenging time for Mike Company, 3rd Platoon, 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines and me personally, in the “Arizona Territory,” “Charlie Ridge,” “Happy Valley” and various other ideal locations, if you know what I mean! 35 to 40 days at a time of close, continuous combat was something that I never want to experience again. Duane Crawford was one heck of a Company Commander and he taught us well. We had some very bad things happen to us but we made the NVA and Viet Cong pay dearly.
My wife, Sherryl, was my strongest supporter for all of my 13 month of deployment. She endured many hardships of not knowing, if I was still alive, on a daily basis, as she watched the war on television. She is one fantastic and strong lady. She plans to read your books when I finish. Your journey was phenomenal and you definitely have touched a lot of people. You’ve done your father proud!!! Corpsmen were outstanding to say the least. When the word went out "Corpsman Up", there was no hesitation and I always knew they would be taking care of their Marines.
Thank you very much and Semper Fi, Marine.
Larry C. Tasby
Mike Company, 3rd Platoon, 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines
Vietnam ’68 – ’69
Many years ago I stumbled upon your book on Amazon and after reading the topic I quickly bought it. I can count on one hand how many books I've ever had problems putting down and yours is one of them.(I can also say that yours is the only book that I've ever read where I was crying every other page...and if you tell anyone that I'll deny it till my dying day! LOL) Your story has meant a great deal to me and I know what it's like to live in a combat zone, so as you described the living condition in Vietnam I could relate to a degree. It's funny how the wars I've taken part in are so different than the Vietnam War, yet in some circumstances their exactly the same. (Sorry, I'm rambling...) I gave my copy of your book to our Officer in Charge for her to read and she was completely moved by it as well, so much so, that when she retired she bought all of her Corpsmen your book and you even signed
them!!! (Thanks by the way for that, it was really AWESOME!)
HM2(FMF/SCW) Jacob Welch
Patient Administration Department
Naval Health Clinic Corpus Christi
Just wanted to say again how much I appreciated your book and the way it seems to have added a renewed sense of value and legitimacy (for want of better words to express what it meant to me) to my experience in 'Nam. I finished reading it during a flight to Baltimore, and after our first couple of days on business stuff, one of the first things my wife and I did did was to visit the memorials, including the Wall. I made a point to find your father's name, and thought I'd send you a picture of that moment last month. What a powerful memorial it is! Again, thank you for sharing your odyssey through the book – it has been a healing touch for so many.
Air Force Aeromedical Evac Tech
903rd Aeromedical Evacuation Flight out of Phu Cat
Stephanie, I am about half way through your book and if anyone ever tells you that Marines don't cry, you may feel free to call them a liar. I didn't know your dad but I was at Marble in Feb. '69 when he was shot down. I was a pilot with HML-167 (Marine Light Helicopter Squadron - 167 HUEY Guns). Many of our missions were "Medevac Escort". We took these missions more seriously than any other because we knew what was at stake. I don't know if anyone advised you of this bit of statistic, but if we got a casualty out of the zone and back to the hospital, he had a 99% chance of survival. It was Doc tending to the wounded on the trip out that made all the difference.
The time, tears and effort you have put in finding out about your father are truly commendable and I wouldn't be prouder of you if you were my own daughter.
J. M. "Mike" Jeffries
Former Capt. USMC
MCAF Marble Mt.
May '68 - May '69
Stephanie, I have been quite busy and not found time to read your book until this past weekend.
I couldn't put it down.
Even though I was in HMM-265, I knew a bunch of the guys in the other squadrons from flight school. It seemed as though I saw something familiar with each passing page. The book is an easy read, not "doctored" with so much vocabulary that you loose track of the story line.
You are to be commended for a job "Well Done" and thank you for capturing the spirit of respect, love, and appreciation that flowed both ways between the Marines and their Corpsmen.
I was so taken with the role of all those who assisted you in achieving your goal. For more times than I can remember, I had to wipe away tears, stop reading to recompose myself, or actually get up and walk around to keep from outright sobbing. Your book is great therapy for anyone who served in Vietnam. It brought back a lot of memories, mostly good ones and I had a great feeling after the read.
Thank you for your patience, persistence, and dedication.
S/F and Aloha ... David
Keep a large supply of Kleenex handy – this story will move you!
I have never struggled so hard to write a book review as much as I did with this book “A Corpsman’s Legacy”. It wasn’t anything negative about the book (just the opposite) but because of my own reactions to it. I simply was moved beyond words. I could not find the right way to tell others that this is more than just a book but a story of undying love. Author Stephanie Hanson writes a heartfelt memoir of her search for her birth father. This spiritual quest leads to several amazing discoveries and many great new people in her life. It also leads her to discover that she is also helping others to heal as well as just herself.
Stephanie was happily adopted and she had no great desire to look for her birth parents. However, promoted by her need to have medical information; she searched and found her birth mother. In an emotional reunion, her mother gave her an old tattered newspaper clipping of an obituary for her father Gary Young, who was killed in Vietnam in 1969. It was from that small piece of information that sprang an emotional journey for her, her family and so many others. This is why the story is so deeply appealing because it is not just about some self-serving personal discovery but more like a group march for truth and fellowship. She really connected emotionally and spiritually with those who were somehow involved with her father, or with his unit in Nam, or who were just supportive of her quest.
One of the more endearing and beautiful events in the book (And there are many!) is when she is given her father’s old watch that he had been wearing in Vietnam when he was killed. Gary’s brother still had it after all those years; but it never worked and he was never able to get around to getting it fixed. So the watch had stopped and was fixed on a time long ago when her dad died. When she was given the watch it again begins to run and work like it was never broken; it was almost like a signal from the beyond—which I firmly believe it was since I do not accept mere accidents of fate. I believe that everything happens for a reason and her whole story emulates that same kind of spiritual energy.
She chronicles her contacts with veteran Marines on the internet where she posts messages which eventually lead to connections and those connections lead to even more. This search begins to take on a life of its own and a powerful spiritual healing takes place for those involved in the search as they each find a part of their missing soul. Stephanie allows those other voices to be heard by including their email messages in the book. So the reader can fully follow how this quest unfolded and evolved.
The old tape recordings from her father that he sent from Vietnam were another gift to Stephanie from Gary’s step-father; but it was Gary’s dog-tag that meant the most to her—a tag that no one realized that they still had. Her story has so many emotional twists and turns that I do not wish to spoil the reading experience for others. This book will impact you as it did me. You will enjoy the ending which is perfect and almost storybook and unreal. But it gives you an emotionally satisfying finish to her book but certainly not an end to her story because one can assume that this will still continue to unfold and that others who read this book will also be touch by it.
The MWSA gives this book its highest rating of FIVE STARS. I also give it my personal recommendation and endorsement! A must read book if there ever was one!
President of MWSA
Your book helps overcome the sadness by bringing to light the values all those men including your father stood for and what the Marines have always stood for.
One of the Best Books I Have Read!
I was deeply moved by this incredible story. The author, who was adopted at birth, does a wonderful job in bringing herself and her biological father to life. By the end of the first chapter I felt as if I knew her and her father personally. After that I could hardly put the book down. Her story begins at age 26, when she needs to locate her biological parents to obtain her medical history. In her quest for that information she learns for the first time that her father was Gary Norman Young - a Navy Corpsman who was killed in action in Vietnam on February 7, 1969. He died before learning that he was going to be a father. The author tells her story from the heart with unwavering honesty, so be prepared to share viscerally in her excitements and disappointments as she embarks upon a remarkable journey to get to know her father. What transpires is often unexpected and at times truly amazing. What started out as her personal conquest evolves into something much more. And how she handled the life changing events that followed made it clear to me that she inherited more from her Corpsman father than his smile. I found the book to be well researched and accurate. It is well worth reading.
Christy W. Sauro Jr.
Author of "The Twins Platoon"
I finished your book. I have to admit that I was prepared to read the book as a story about a corpsman colleague, serving in the same general area that I was in, at the same time, etc. I was foolish to not think that there would be a very emotional involvement. Once I started reading I couldn’t put the book down; except when the words became blurred..., or when my mind started to reminisce, at which point I would have to stop reading for a while, then go back and reread a few paragraphs or pages. I don’t think I have sorted out my emotions yet, and that may take a while since your book is undoubtedly the most personal and profound post-war writing I have experienced.
There were numerous similarities of our service in Viet Nam that probably were mere coincidence, but unnerving at the same time: Medcap in the villages, lots of suturing (which I thoroughly enjoyed), trips to Thailand, carrying a .45 pistol, seeking to order a new car for when I got home, giving lots of shots, going to the orphanage (I’m not sure if it was the same one or not), very close relationships with the Marines, etc.
To say ‘THANK YOU’ is not adequate; to say that you have brought peace and comfort to hundreds of veterans might be beginning.
However, we can’t begin to appreciate the array of emotions, energy, patience and perseverance that you have given in this endeavor.
Herb "Doc" Eschbach
1st Marine Division
Viet Nam 1968-69
A definite "Must Read"
This book is without a doubt, one of the best written books I have ever read about Viet Nam.
The author, Stephanie Hanson, has documented her search for information about her father, whom she never knew, and woven this into a heartfelt narrative. Included are copies of letters, e-mail and other communications with people that knew her father and were familiar with the circumstances surrounding his death in a helicopter shoot-down and subsequent fatal crash, as well as transcripts from the actual tapes of her father's voice. Her quest to obtain his medals and the Combat Aircrew Wings he was awarded, and the subsequent presentation of these medals, is especially heartwarming, particularly to those who have earned these awards, and are aware of what it takes to get them.
The people the author worked with and sought help from provided comfort and encouraged her to continue the search. This support came from veterans who did not know her father, but who had served at or near the same time as he, members of the helicopter squadron he was assigned to at the time of his death, as well as relatives of the crew he went down with.
To say the least, this book is touching and moving.
Marines hold their "Docs" in the highest regard, as well they should, as they have risked and continue to risk their lives to tend to any injured Marine. For those that were not fortunate enough to have served in the Marine Corps, this book gives some insight into just how well loved the Doc is.
I would recommend reading this account to any veteran, especially those that served in helicopter squadrons in Viet Nam. You surely don't have to be a veteran to appreciate this book, as you will learn some of the things that really happen during war. At times, while reading this book, I was taken back to my time in country.
Former Crew Chief, USMC HMM-262
Yesterday, I received "A Corpsman's Legacy." I sat down to skim a few pages, intending to then put it away for nighttime reading. Didn't happen. It captivated me. I sat on the couch all day until I finished it.
What an awesome job you have done! I have "been there" and "done that," so I can relate to the people (many of whom I knew) and faraway places (most of which I am familiar with) you mention. But the main thing that struck me was the dedication and perseverance you evidenced. You got the job done. You crafted an exemplary literary tribute to your dad, to all who served with him, and to Marine helicopter crews of all eras.
Right now -- right at this instant -- your dad is bursting with pride and smiling down at you. You accepted the challenge, you stayed the course, you fought the good fight, you kept the faith, you followed your heart, you never gave up, you hung in there, you got the job done. You have erected to Gary Norman Young, and to yourself, a monument more enduring than marble.
Best wishes to you always, Corpsman's Kid!
I just want to thank you for writing "A Corpsman's Legacy." I received it yesterday and, in between blurred vision sessions, have not been able to put it down.
I was not able to go more than a couple of pages without having to stop and let my eyes clear so I could read further. While I have been aware of your quest, and many of your accomplishments over the last 4-5 years, I was not aware of all the additional good that you have spread among others.
Reading the comments from all the others in your book really makes me realize how closely bonded we all are, even though many have never actually met. In the fulfillment of your quest, you have been directly responsible for the long overdue healing and closure for so many people who would never have been able to accomplish it for themselves.
You have done a terrific job, not only in your personal search, but also in helping the healing process for many others who need it.
I gave your book to my wife to read, you said so much, so much better than I could ever say it. I am sure my wife will get a lot out of it also, I have never really even discussed any of it with her, your book will give her insights that I have not been able to give her.
Thank you for the wonderful work that you have done in your book. I really respect your tenacity and devotion to finding out as much as you have about your Father. Most people would have given up long before you even got started.
I could not put the book down once I started reading it. I'm not afraid to admit that I cried.
I too am a Veteran - 3rd generation Navy, served in the Gulf War. I'm sure that you already know the character and integrity of the men that your Father served with. They are all GREAT men that gave all that they had, and then some.
Thank you again. You have given the world a chance to start looking at these men as the Heroes that they are.
EN2 (SW) Burdecki, USN
Gulf War 1988-93
This is simply a great heroic story. I have known since 2000 that this was a story that needed to be told because it would affect many people. I should start with the admission that I have known the author personally since 1999. It was my pleasure to get to introduce her to my Vietnam combat brothers at the Pop-a-Smoke reunion in San Diego during 2000.
From the earliest moment, it was plain to see that this was a compelling story that would somehow find a way to get published.
It took many weeks to prepare myself for this read because I knew it would be emotionally heart wrenching and at the same time a delightful story of dedication and heart felt purpose. For a story that is now 37 years old, it is still a beautiful account of one good guy doing the dirty work of fighting in combat.
As expected, the early part of this story made the tears flow and I thought that I already knew most of the details. What the book now tells me is that this was a gig-saw puzzle that had more pieces than I ever imagined. Only Stephanie could be dedicated enough to put this puzzle together. When the final piece was put in place, she knew that she was special because she was the daughter of a special corpsman.
This story really is about discovering a legacy of a father that she never knew. By the end of this story every reader can see that she got to know her father quite well and boy was she proud.
This whole Vietnam experience is a lot about healing and Stephanie was my reminder that the healing would take more than one generation. Further the experience was about affirming that the sacrifices made were worthwhile. The author found the answer to these fundamental questions.
This is a great read for all regardless of the fact that some had a Vietnam connection and many did not.
1st Lt, USMC
What an emotional roller coaster. I followed Ms Hanson's ups and downs throughout the book as if they were my own. This story was well thought out, researched, and presented in such a way that it cut right through my inner soul with surgical precision. It was difficult, at times, for me to digest the vivid scenes she artfully reconstructed. I was overwhelmed by the support she received from so many folks. It really drives home the credo, that Marines really do look after their corpsman. Well done Ms Hanson. Semper Fi.
As a pilot with the Purple Foxes at the time of the ill-fated medevac mission, I can vouch for the accuracy of the years of research spent on this book. The tenacity of the author in gathering the facts, solving the mystery of her heritage, and obtaining recognition for her father is a compelling read that will hold your attention to the conclusion of her quest.
Gary E. Stackhouse
1st Lt, USMC
Your book, "A Corpsman's Legacy" is the first written history I know of, that accurately tells the story of Corpsmen and their dedication and commitment to saving life and comforting the wounded. I began reading the book and could not put it down. I did not fly helos, but was on the other end. Sometimes the helos and the crew were so shot up they could not take off after they had landed. The book brought a lot of tears to my eyes as I remembered people and events.
Anyway Bravo Zulu and Semper Fidelis. God bless and say a prayer for all those new Corpsmen and women in Combat, taking care of our Marines in this war. We are a family.
HMCS, USN FMF Retired
This is a heartwarming book of a young woman's persistence and determination in learning who her Dad was. It is also a story of how it is very true that Marines take care of their own. There are parts that are uplifting and parts that will leave you in tears - sad tears and happy tears. I highly recommend it.
Corporal, USMC 1972-76
Today, I read your book, "A Corpsman's Legacy." I could not put the book down. It was one of the greatest stories I have ever read.
I wish I could have been there when Maj Gen Hough presented your Dad's wings.
Bravo Zulu... Well Done! Semper Fi Corpsman Kid!
Wally 'Bytes' Beddoe
My mother just finished reading "A Corpsman's Legacy" and this book made it easier for her to ask me questions she has always had about just what all I did in Vietnam. Finally she is now understanding my role as a corpsman.
Because of your book, the healing continues....
What a wonderful story of the search of her birth father that she never knew. He was a Navy Corpsman who was KIA in Vietnam. The book is well written and accurately researched. All Corpsmen and Marines (especially those who served in Vietnam) will enjoy this book. I also recommend it to all active duty military personnel and their families.
1st Lt, USMC
We all make promises that fall by the wayside.
It pains me to confess that I harbor still some bitterness. Bitterness is like a benign tumor that resides in your core: just sitting there, not getting any bigger, not killing you, just causing hurt. Over time, the bitterness has influenced my life less but it has not gone away. And I’m not alone. Many of my contemporaries feel the same but cannot, or will not, admit it. To admit it means those that caused it won. To admit it makes one feel weak and weak we aren’t.
I came home from Vietnam in late November, 1969. I had done my year and had expected to ride the “freedom bird” home. But politics always rules and politics wanted a show. So those of us who had finished our tour were told Mr. Nixon wanted the world to see the troops were coming home and we were the troops. We spent 22 days aboard a World War II era troopship – hot, miserable, crowded, many of us sick. But we were going home and that was great consolation.
When the ship approached the pier in San Diego we could see a crowd. The police kept them back but we could hear them and we could see their banners. And the stuff they said hurt. They made us angry but the police kept us back too. That was a good thing. Had we been allowed to get at them, it would have appeared to confirm some of what they were saying. That was my first exposure to opposition that very likely hurt more people than the Viet Cong or the North Vietnamese. It was a different kind of hurt for which there was no Purple Heart – a hurt that went to the soul.
I was a lifer. Most of my comrades left the service and went home to start their lives for real. I had always planned a military career and I was excited to get on with it. Staying in uniform meant remaining a target. Not from some enemy in some foreign country but from citizens of my own. And often I felt their arrows. Later, while stationed in the Pentagon, we wore civilian clothes and frequently had to step over protesters blocking our paths. They were a motley lot smelling of body odor, tobacco, and marijuana, voicing pure venom. “Just ignore them,” was the advice we were given. But the things they said hurt.
I was raised to believe, “God and country before all else.” And believe that I did … and still do. My family was a strong third in the hierarchy and I tried to protect them from the portrait of their father and his peers that had been painted in the popular media and among certain groups of people. But I could not protect them completely and often and to answer perfectly innocent questions about horribly awful things they heard.
Over time I started to think of the protesters and epithet slingers as fleas. Most were ignorant of history and most knew little of the real world. Like fleas they just irritated but were of little consequence. Over time many of them grew up, at least chronologically, and went off to do what it was they did. It was nice to come to work and not see them, hear them, or smell them. But the occasional barbs about Vietnam veterans and how they lost the war reminded me that there were many who never grew up.
I think my dermal layer eventually got thickened. Even though that bitter tumor was still there, I did learn to ignore … for the most part. People started saying “welcome home” and “thanks for your service.” I’m sure it was well intentioned but most said it in the same way they said “how do you do.” I usually smiled and said thank you. I had positive memories of the very brave people with whom I served. I tried to put everything else in the back of my mind. Even though I was very proud of my own service, the negatives heavily influenced the positive, until I heard from Stephanie Hanson.
I got an email from this young lady with a request for information about her dad. From a website belonging to former Marine Corps helicopter crewmen, she had noted that I served in the same unit as her father. I had and I remembered him. I sent a note back and asked her to call me right away. Her dad, 20-year-old Hospitalman Gary Young, had been one of the Navy Corpsmen in my unit and had been killed in action, his medical evacuation helicopter shot down with the loss of all but one of its crew. Another corpsman, my best friend, had died in the crash as well. I told her what I knew of her father.
Stephanie’s father was a young man. When Gary died, Stephanie’s distraught mother gave her up for adoption. Stephanie was a adopted by a good family and she had a happy youth. While she was in college in Washington, DC, Stephanie visited the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial. She had an eerie feeling that her natural father might be one of the thousands of names on The Wall.
Stephanie began an odyssey that led eventually to Gary’s identity and contact with his fellow Marines and Navy Corpsmen. The Marines with whom Gary flew took Stephanie under their wings and, in many ways, adopted her as a child of their own. Stephanie’s story is the sweet of bittersweet. The doggedness of her pursuit of her father and then of the recognition her father deserved as a genuine hero, is a story of pure love. Every Marine and Corpsman that flew in combat is extremely proud of a small silver and gold badge that is emblazoned “Combat Aircrew.” Gary’s untimely death denied him this honor even though it was well deserved. Through Stephanie’s efforts and the help of her Marine Corps family, Gary was awarded his wings posthumously in a ceremony attended by many of Gary’s fellow heroes.
Love like Stephanie’s burns away bitterness. All of us would like to believe there is someone somewhere that cares for us with dedication like Stephanie’s. Most of us realize that probably isn’t likely. It doesn’t matter because Stephanie gave herself to us as well. Her dad was one of us. Her love for him spills over and affects us. For this Stephanie, we thank you. For helping us realize there is still some sweetness in the pain, we are grateful.
Navy Captain (Ret.) Vietnam 1968-69
Although the US had been in Viet Nam as the primary advisors since 1956, major American troop involvement began in 1965. The "conflict" lasted a horrific 8 years until our troop withdrawal in 1973. During that time, there were 58,226 troop deaths, with over 150,000 other casualties on our side and into the millions on the Viet Nam side. [data from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viet_Nam_War] Medical Corpsman Gary Norman Young was among the American dead. Young died at the tender age of 20, never knowing he left behind a pregnant girlfriend who, two months after his death, gave birth to the little girl she gave up for adoption and later known as Stephanie Hanson. This book came about because of Stephanie's burning desire, driven initially by medical need, to learn more about the father she had never known.
As I read, and having lived through the Viet Nam war as an adult observer and protester, of course I could not help but see numerous parallels with our current military involvement in Iraq. What struck me so deeply, however, was the bond that developed between members of the military not only with others seeing action, but with all who went before and with all who come after. It is this literally undying bond, this love between warriors, that kept bringing me to tears while reading. And it is because of that bond that we owe the greatest honor, and thankfulness, to all warriors who are willing to give their lives for we who stay at home.
Regardless of what anyone may think of the righteousness or "rightness" of a particular war, the warriors on the front lines, and all those who support them in the field such as the medical corpsmen like Young, are facing unimaginable terrors daily with the utmost courage. The pain and loss survivors suffer is even more unimaginable. Stephanie Hanson has brought home to me most poignantly the reality of the need to love, honor and respect all of our warriors alive and dead and to never again ignore the sacrifices made by them, and their grieving families, as we did so shamefully in 1973 and beyond.
Read this book and weep for the sacrifices made by these young people and be thankful they stand ready to protect you with their lives. This Thanksgiving , and every one after this, let their sacrifices live in your hearts forever as you keep saying "thank you" and "welcome home."
Read this book. You'll be glad you did.
"A Corpsman's Legacy" is a well-written story of a brave young woman's quest to learn about the father she never knew. Her determination pays off over a two-year period where she not only learns a great deal about her hero Dad, Gary Young, who was a Navy Corpsman during the heart breaking Vietnam War, but also about many brave soldiers who also served.
Ms. Hanson's love for people is exemplified throughout the book. She becomes a powerful spiritual instrument used to unify many men who had not openly spoken about their frightful experiences of Vietnam since their return to the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Nor had many of them seen each other for more than 30 years. Stephanie became a safe haven for many of these men. They began to trust her, and with great care and compassion she listened to story after story. Through her perseverance the healing had begun. She soon fell in love with these war veterans, and they fell in love with her.
Stephanie may have lost her Dad in 1969, but his compassion and gentle spirit lives on in the heart and soul of his little girl. Moreover, Stephanie has a newfound relationship with her birth mother, and her family. And, she has acquired an even larger family with more brothers than any sister could ever ask for!
"A Corpsman's Legacy" is certainly deserving of the attention of Mr. Steven Spielberg and Mr. Tom Hanks. I'm certain that when they read this heart warming book, they would discover a great deal of love, compassion, strength, determination, fortitude and respect. The quality of their movies is found in this book. More movies need to be made where love and selflessness bring forth such strength and healing.
On a personal note, my brother was also a Corpsman in Vietnam. I never knew what a Corpsman was, or their position during the war. Stephanie's book taught me not only about the Vietnam War and Purple Foxes, but also about the compassion and bravery of Corpsmen. I have, therefore, developed a deep respect for all Corpsmen, and especially for my brother. They are only concerned about the welfare of others by their sheer determination to save lives, and to "leave no man behind." Perhaps the sentiment of Albert Einstein resides in the heart and soul of many Corpsmen, "Only a life lived for others is worth living."
This book should be read by all active duty and retired military personnel as well as their families. This book is pure love, and deserves five stars!
Susan M. Deneff
What a touching story! This book is not only about a daughter finding her father but a healing process for those that served/died in Viet Nam and for their families as well.
My brother served with the Marine Corp in Viet Nam, DaNang and Chu Lai, 1967-1968 and having a son serving with the Purple Foxes this book touched my heart.
You are not only a blessing to your father (and your adoptive parents) but all the lives you have healed along the way. Thank you!