More reader reviews. Eighteen 5 Star reviews, and now readers in Canada and Great Britain are buying my new book Steel Rain too.

Top customer reviews

Ronald G. Ford

February 8, 2018

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase

Wow hell of a ride LT it’s hard to believe 50 years have past.Congrats on a great book I got it Tuesday evening and finished reading Thursday morning.The chapters I enjoyed the most were the ones I had no memory of.It seems my mind shut down for several months after 2/2/68 I know I was there and I’ve been told I did my job and fairly well but no memories of it yet February 2 is still sharp in my mind.i am very proud to call you friend without your leadership in and out of the field a lot of us would have never made it home.See you in D.C in a few days PS I had to smile reading about Gaffney with a bottle of Jack when the ammo dump blew up I can see that like it was yesterday the sky glowing with explosion and fire Captain G hollering and shouting orders and never letting go of that bottle.It always has reminded me of a scene out of Gone with the wind when Atlanta was burning.Maybe we should get a bottle of Jack and have a toast .Sound good ? Sgt Ron Ford


Amazon Customer

February 4, 2018

Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
John is the soldier speaking the truest story of Vietnam. I will confirm his action as I was in a different company same battalion, fighting the same battle.

Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive by  john harrison


The Problems With Media Coverage of the Vietnam War Were Only Increased by the Ken Burns PBS Documentary

by: john harrison

The true story of the Vietnam War is dying out. The men that made that history like those before them are now rapidly becoming history themselves. While the Vietnam War was incredibly poorly covered by print journalism, it was well photographed. Those photographs and particularly the information that has come out from North Vietnam since the Vietnam War ended have already given lie to many of the most popular myths about the war. Unfortunately, there are many more myths are still out there, still getting in the way of the real story of what was the Vietnam War.

Except for a few venturesome souls, even Ken Burns agreed in his recent documentary that the print journalists covering the Vietnam War mostly stayed safe in Saigon. They did not really go out and cover the war like the intrepid journalists of World War II. That was particularly true during the Tet Offensive. It is hard to say you are covering a war when you do not really ever go look at it, but that did seem to bother these journalists.

I think that this may have been the first war where it was specifically dangerous to just be a journalist. That is, not only were they subject to the same risks as everybody else in a war zone; the journalists themselves were also purposefully targeted. The photographers had always had that risk, so they did not care. According to Ken Burns the print journalists in the Vietnam War did not respond as well. There were of course numerous exceptions, but they, and their work, was generally ignored.

Part of the problem with sifting out the truth today is that these print journalists covering the Vietnam War were and are very smart. They knew that the winds of public approval would change sometime, because these winds always change. So, they planted a few bombs for later use when people complained about the pervasive bias in their coverage.

For example, before he left Vietnam after covering some of the Tet Offensive there, Walter Cronkite did say in one report that MACV had said that the VC were taking a beating in the Tet ’68 battles still going on. However, when he got home to New York in his one and only editorial comment, a major announcement that was itself big news, on the progress of the Vietnam War Cronkite said that the people that were saying that the VC were taking a beating in the Tet battles were the same ones that had misled America so many times before about the Vietnam War and that they should not be believed again. It was classic, “have my cake and eat it too” journalism. When he was attacked years after the war for bias in his coverage, Cronkite immediately trotted this quote out as evidence of the contrary but ignored his later, much more highly covered, editorial.

As someone who had reported on and lived through the Battle of the Bulge during World War II, Cronkite above all the other journalists reporting on the war should have known better. As America’s greatest living journalist, Cronkite should have done better. He should have done his job.

More recently, someone has analyzed the editorial content of the major newspapers during the Vietnam War and determined to their satisfaction that by far most of them supported the Vietnam War editorially. I don’t know whether that is true or not, but it is utterly irrelevant. It was the reporting on the Vietnam War that was defective, not the editorials. It was the constant claims of a “credibility gap” by the people covering the war from the comfort, and relative safety, of Saigon that was the problem.

These reporters, many of whom had never studied war, who had never gone to the field to look at the war for themselves, who were appalled by the bloody detritus that war churned up constantly, chose to simply disbelieve official reports and to substitute their own judgements. Just like Ken Burns, who presented only those veterans who were now ashamed, or dissatisfied in some way with their Vietnam service in his “documentary” when every poll shows that well above 80% of the veterans who actually served in Vietnam were proud of their service, these reporters too built a case, rather than filed a report on the Vietnam War.

There is a big difference between building a case and conducting a through investigation of facts as a reporter, and that singular difference is the principle problem with almost all of the reporting, and many of the books on the Vietnam War. It is not their “point of view” that is the problem, it is actual, willful, bias based on almost uniform ignorance of the war itself. No-one can reliably report on a battle in Phan Thiet from the rooftop bar of the Caravelle Hotel in Saigon, but that is what they demonstrably tried to do. Unfortunately, having made these ridiculous reports, they now feel compelled to defend them.

In a way it is similar to when the complaints started coming out about problems with the initial M16 rifle. The Army, in reply to numerous articles in several newspapers, put out a much hyped report that the M16 was X times more likely to fire the first shot than the vaunted AK47. All true, but that is a test of ammunition reliability, not a test of rifle reliability.

The problem with the first M16s surfaced only with the second or third shot, and they surfaced a lot. The true test of a rifle’s reliability is its ability to fire X rounds without a failure in a simulated combat situation. Had they made that test, the AK47 would have blown the M16 out the door. The AK probably still would, but even that does not make it a better infantry weapon, things like accuracy, rifle weight, weight of ammunition, bullet performance, ergonomics, ease of maintenance, etc., all come into play then. So, both sides played the same game, building a case rather than telling the truth.

The people making the M16/AK47 tests knew that they were functionally lying, they were after all real experts, but they did it anyway, just like Cronkite did when he made his famous “editorial comment”, just like Ken Burns did when he limited his “Vietnam War veterans” in his PBS documentary to only those of the anti-war persuasion even though they had to be harder to find.

It is a very real problem for actual historians of the Vietnam War that there is this sort of overlay of total crap out there, some from both sides, that they have to sift through to find the real stories still hidden down there somewhere, and now the real stories are all dying out as the Vietnam veterans ever more rapidly disappear.


At least one true story of our time in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive can be found in my new book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive which is available on Amazon both as a paperback and on Kindle. Please give it a look. See;


Best reader review of my new book “Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive 1968”

on February 8, 2018
quite possibly the finest infantry in Vietnam book I’ve read. He puts you there and shares things the average person just doesn’t know but will find fascinating. Warning, when you start it, you will finish it.

First Review for “Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive”

Got my first review for “Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive” on Amazon. ( Thanks Jerry Berry. Reviews help as a fellow author Jerry knows that.

Jerry Berry 
5.0 out of 5 stars Continuing the Legacy
February 2, 2018

Format: Paperback

John and I have known each other since 1967, when we came together as members of the 3-506 at the unit activation in April of that year. While in training at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, we trained together in the swamp of George, and the mountains, of Tennessee for combat in South Vietnam. As an airborne battalion, we deployed together aboard the USNS General William Weigel in October 1967, headed for combat together in Southeast Asia.
The Currahees of the 3-506 saw its first combat in South Vietnam on Veterans Day, November 11, 1967. As paratroopers, we fought and died together in the Central Highlands and Coastal Plains of a small, virtually unknown country named Vietnam to prevent the spread of Communism in that part of the world.
We cried together when fellow teammates died on the battlefield. Those of us who survived the horrors of the Vietnam War came home together, yet will never be whole again. A part of us will always remain behind in the blood-soaked ground of Vietnam, yet we still stand tall and proud as paratroopers and Americans soldiers. We continued the legacy of our proud unit and honor our WW II predecessors by answering the call to duty when our nation greatly needed our fighting skills, remembering with pride the profound words of Col. William H. O. Kinnard, who was the assistant chief of staff to Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe, commander of the 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagle” Division of WW II–“To those of you left to read this last daily bulletin–do not dwell on the disintegration of our great unit, but rather be proud that you are the ‘old guard’ of the geatest division ever to fight for our country. Carry with you the memory of its greatness where ever you may go, being always assured of respect when you say, ‘I served with the 101st.”’
I can attest to the validity of Lieutenant John Harrison’s detailed account of his tour of duty as a platoon leader and executive officer for Company A, 3-506, because I was there with him as we trekked through the jungles and rice paddies of South Vietnam in search of the enemy. AIRBORNE, SIR!
– Jerald W. Berry, paratrooper, rifleman, and battalion PIO, Vietnam 1967/68.
Author of “The Stand Alone Battalion”, “My Gift To You”, Twelve Days In May”, In The Company of Heroes”, and the soon to be released “They Called Us Currahees”.

Many of my Vietnam stories are now a book on Amazon–Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive 1968.

Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive 1968” is available on Amazon right now in paperback and Kindle format. Many of the stories have been re-written, added to and now are placed in the chronological order that they occurred. In addition, I have written a short piece for each story placing it in context. Please give it a look.

A Question of Honor, or the lack thereof

A Question of Honor,

or the lack thereof

by: john harrison

Serious athletes should avoid at least three of of the Ivy League universities in the future. So should all serious students intent on an education. Real gentlemen and real ladies need not apply, they will not be welcome there.

New Jersey’s Princeton University has suspended its entire men’s Swim Team over the offensive content on a team message service. This marked the third such action against an Ivy League athletic squad since this November, 2016. The move comes after New York’s Columbia University suspended its wrestling team and Harvard University in Massachusetts canceled its men’s soccer season.

However, collective punishment is simply wrong. It is both absolutely wrong headed and utterly ignoble to knowingly punish innocent people on purpose, no matter how noble the aim, no matter how pure the goal. The ends do not justify the means. How often must we relearn this? It is basic to a civilized society. One would have hoped that a truly great university would have understood this. Sadly, one would have been wrong, three times in a row.

Common sense tells anyone that collective punishment is lazy, counterproductive and particularly unfair to those who follow the rules. Clearly common sense, ethics and even simple morality are in short supply even at the highest levels at Princeton, Harvard and Columbia universities.

In Discipline with Dignity, a respected classroom management book by Richard Curwin and Allen Mendler, the conclusion is clear: “Group punishments are almost always ineffective. They generate resentment in the innocent students who learn to think that they might as well break the rules because they will be punished anyway, and they teach the rule violators that they will not have to take responsibility for their actions. Focus instead on teaching correct behavior through natural and logical consequences.” It is extraordinary that Columbia, Princeton and Harvard need to relearn this.

Let us remember again that the ends never justify the means. Mussolini may well have made the trains run on time. Togo may well have wanted to solve the critical Japanese problem of lack of natural resources. And, Stalin may have been a sincere communist. However, what all three of these have in common is that they all, along with Hitler and all the other despots from the beginning of time, repeatedly engaged in collective punishment. Collective punishment is a weapon, it is a preferred tool, of a tyrant. Innocence is not only not a defense, it is not even relevant.

Collective punishment, is absolutely banned under international law. Think about that for a minute. Under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, collective punishment is defined as a war crime. What have Columbia, Harvard and Princeton done? Where is the outrage?

Anyone that goes to Princeton, Harvard or Columbia do so at the risk of their athletic career, and their much more importantly, of their very soul. They will not be taught to excel, they will be taught that only power matters, not law, not morality, not ethics, just raw power.

If the problem at these universities was really an entire team culture issue, then that is a coach problem and easily solvable. A team should reflect the culture of the university. Unfortunately, it seems that the Harvard soccer team, the Princeton swim team and the Columbia wrestling team do reflect what can only be described as an abusive culture at these universities, and in the worst possible way.

The leaders of these three universities should be ashamed. The NCAA should investigate and punish these universities for their reprehensible actions. They have dishonored themselves and their universities in the most basic of ways. Of all of the people in America, they should have known better. We trusted them with our youth. They have abused our trust, and our children.


Election 2016, Reflections

Election 2016, Reflections

by: john harrison

Even before the 2016 presidential election the GOP controlled 68 out of 98 partisan state legislative chambers — the highest number in the history of the party. Republicans held the governorship and both houses of the legislature in 23 states, while Democrats had that level of control in only 7 states. In political terms the Republican Party had much more to lose in this election than the Democratic Party did.

This widespread strength gave the Republicans control over the redistricting process of House districts across the country. This control has enabled Republicans to entirely restructure the House of Representatives in their favor, but it has also resulted in the election of many very independent, only nominally Republican, House members that are not responsive to the Republican leadership. However, the initial large number of viable Republican presidential candidates in 2016 also reflected the Republican party’s geographically broad based, deep, political strength.

The entirety of the popular vote difference of about 2.5 million votes in Sec. Clinton’s favor comes from California. It signifies nothing, but it helps hide a distressing truth for the Democratic Party. Essentially in at least this election, the Democratic Party has withered to a very large, regional political party with its strength concentrated mainly in large cities generally located in the Northeast and far West coasts and particularly in three of the most populous states, California, New York and Illinois. The Democratic Party has fought also populous Florida to a virtual tie in the last two presidential elections, but it has not a chance in Texas, the remaining member of the top five states in population.

In spite of raising and spending an incredible amount of money, far more than the Republicans, and creating a superb professional political machine focused on getting out the Democratic vote, Sec. Clinton nonetheless posted the lowest Democratic vote total since 2008. This should be very disturbing to the party, but all that most Democrats seem to want to talk about is that she won the popular vote nationwide. On the other hand, but more important even though it too makes no difference, Mr. Trump scored the largest Republican popular vote total ever.

A vote comparison that is useful, is that in only 14 states did Sec. Clinton receive more than half or the votes cast, while Mr. Trump exceeded that goal in 24 states. In a republic with an electoral college these numbers have much more significance than the total popular vote.

Reflecting intense voter dissatisfaction with both major party candidates almost 6 million votes went to third party candidates. Unlike several years ago when Mr. Perot ran, my view is that almost nobody voted “for” any of the 3rd party candidates this time. They voted against both major party candidates, but more apparently voted against Sec. Clinton than against Mr. Trump.

This seems clear from the vote totals. Mr. Trump substantially increased his party’s vote totals while Sec. Clinton was unable to repeat even the lowest of President Obama’s vote totals in spite of a huge and very successful effort to register new, presumably Democratic, voters.

This voter apathy, sometimes antipathy, toward Sec. Clinton and her running mate was also visibly reflected during the campaign in the lack of crowds at their events unless a rock star or President Obama also attended. Although conspicuous, this lack of enthusiasm for the Democratic candidate was ignored by her campaign and deprecated by the media as “not important” or at least, over shadowed by the great Democratic “ground game” coming in the general election.

The numbers in gross should be even more distressing for the Democratic Party. Starting in 2000 about 101 million Americans voted in that year’s presidential election. In 2004 about 121 million voted. In 2008 President Obama’s first term a record 129 million voted. In 2012 about 126 million voted. However, in 2016 in another record, 134 million Americans voted. Mr. Trump’s total vote of almost 63 million set a new record for the Republican Party, but Sec. Clinton’s 65 million was well below President Obama’s total vote in both of the two preceding presidential elections. That is, even though the total votes cast in 2016 increased by about 8 million votes, the total vote for the Democratic nominee actually went down for the second straight election.

In the main these new voters went to either Mr. Trump, or to the two major third party candidates who received almost 6 million votes in 2016. Clearly whichever party can capture the allegiance of these new voters will win the presidency in 2020 and both parties have ample room to broaden their respective bases.

While many, particularly in the media, talked of the apparent disintegration of the Republican Party during the campaign, it appears that it was the Democratic party that did not succeed in uniting or broadening its base. If this persists it is in real danger of becoming nationally irrelevant as a political party. Structurally, for the same reasons that Mr. Trump won the electoral college vote while losing the popular vote, the Republicans hold a distinct advantage in the House. They have resurrected in part the “solid South” which formerly belonged to the Democratic Party. These were very real Republican advantages in the 2016 election, and will likely continue.

This time the traditional wedge issues of the past, particularly gun control, women’s reproductive rights, immigration, etc., apparently produced more active opposition for Democratic candidates than they did active support for Democratic candidates. The key here is the word “active” because active supporters vote. A close race, such as the 2016 election was in many states, gives such single issue voters, active voters, even more importance. In 2016, they held the balance and then they gave it to Mr. Trump. Why?

Never have the pundits and professional politicians been proven more uniformly wrong. Say what you will, Mr. Trump first defeated a large Republican group of well financed, experienced, successful politicians many with national recognition. Then, he went on to beat the Democratic nominee handily in the electoral race which is the only one that counts. How did that happen?

2016 was not the first time the Democratic Party has suffered a humiliating loss when led by a politician named Clinton. After the similar disaster at the polls in 1994 people in the Democratic Party began looking for the reason. It was not hard to find. Everybody agreed then that the assault weapon ban had cost the party at least 40 seats in the House, including that of the Speaker of the House, Tom Foley.

The political price for passing the assault weapon ban in 1994 was the loss of Congress to the Republicans. Not only that, but it endangered all of Bill Clinton’s and therefore the Democratic Party’s, agenda for the rest of his presidency. In large part the aftermath of election of 1994 was the partisan conditions on Capitol Hill that produced Clinton’s own impeachment. Even Clinton himself, looking back on the assault weapon ban in his memoir, My Life, concluded that he had likely “pushed the Congress, the country, and the administration too hard.” Thereafter for Bill Clinton, gun control became the deadly third rail of politics.

How then did gun control arise again in a Clinton campaign? Probably it can be traced back to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting which occurred on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children between 6 and 7 years old, as well as 6 adult staff members that began the resurgence of gun control as a national political issue. On the one hand are the parents of the slaughtered children. On the other hand was a follower of political activist and theorist Saul Alinsky who taught that even the most horrible tragedy should be used, and who stated:

“The despair is there; now it’s up to us to go in and rub raw the sores of discontent, galvanize them for radical social change.”- Saul Alinsky

For a big part of the country, the problem had a simple solution—protect the schools, post armed guards. This is the rational and so far only effective way to protect anything. This is why both large amounts of money and presidents always travel with armed guards.

Again for a large part of the country, they wondered in light of all of the previous shootings at schools why there had not already been an armed guard there at Sandy Hook Elementary School? Who could be dumb enough to think that a “Gun Free Zone” sign on an all glass door would work?

That is when they found that they were not dealing with reason. Many in Connecticut and elsewhere protested against posting armed guards at schools even after the shooting at Newtown. Rather than sue the officials who had left their children and teachers entirely unprotected even though schools were a well recognized risk, the parents sued the gun manufacturer. They were undeterred that all of the guns used had been stolen in course of a homicide where the killer had murdered his own mother.

A large part of the country found this reaction of demonizing guns rather than the murderer to be completely idiotic. More important, it scared them. They want their children to be protected, and they do not much care how it is done, as long at it is done.

While reason, as they viewed it, ultimately prevailed, the Connecticut schools finally hired armed guards and the suit against the gun manufacturers was thrown out of court, the horrific memories remained for both sides. They still produce almost Pavlovian responses.

For example, former Vice Presidential candidate and current Democratic Senator Tim Kaine recently posted:

“Deeply saddened by the senseless act of gun violence at Ohio State this morning. Praying for the injured and the entire Buckeye community.” (Emphasis added)

However, the only “gun violence” was when an alert policeman, an armed guard employed by the university, shot and killed the knife wielding terrorist who had first used his car as a weapon.

People who want their children protected, by guns if necessary, are deathly afraid of people like Senator Tim Kaine. In 2016, like in 1994, in their view the Democratic Party rejected them. The Democratic candidate for president literally, deplored them.

The next issue was abortion. If anyone wondered how a woman could vote for Donald Trump they need look no further than the abortion issue.

The voices of reason on this issue, and there are few, said that abortion must be looked at realistically. Realistically, the wealthy have always had access to safe, sometimes even legal, abortions. However, those that did not have access to legal abortions often died. The rational said that if you are with the idea of a legal abortion in the cases of rape, incest and/or the health of the mother, then abortion can no longer be a black and white, moral issue. As soon as you agree to exceptions, you are no longer talking about right and wrong, you are weighing options. It can no longer be a moral choice.

All of this ignored that for many voters, abortion is a black and white issue, and this includes many women voters. While exact numbers will never be available since for many this is a distinctly private issue, some women are in favor of abortion regardless of the circumstances, a point that Sec. Clinton endorsed in the last debate, and some women are opposed to abortion, again regardless of the circumstances.

Even between these two extremes, a lot of women are still single issue voters. That is why nothing that Mr. Trump, generally an opponent of abortion, said in the campaign swayed many women in particular from voting for him.

Because they believed that voting for a man like Mr. Trump to be clearly irrational behavior, Sec. Clinton’s advisors discounted it. They simply did not believe that any woman could vote for such a misogynist.

They forgot that this particular misogynist opposed abortion, except in the cases of rape, incest and health of the mother. In contrast to all of the other Republican candidates, he opposed shutting down Planned Parenthood as well. That is Mr. Trump took the more or less middle ground, the most generally acceptable anti-abortion position. While Sec. Clinton was on the extreme end of the debate, Mr. Trump got a lot of votes because of his much more moderate position.

What’s troubling for the future is that a wide swath of supporters on both sides of abortion and gun control still view these particular issues as moral imperatives, as matters of basic human rights. In this view, gun control and abortion are not clashes of competing political and legal issues, to be sorted out with data and evidence. It is Good vs. Evil; Enlightenment vs. Barbarism; Life vs. Death.

Phrasing them this way makes the advocates of stricter and looser laws feel better. We all need a villain. But unlike truly moral issues, claiming the moral high ground on these issues makes it less likely to pass better laws, less likely to end the logjam in Congress, even less likely to win elections because the attitude itself motivates both sides.

If Sec. Clinton had moderated her party’s stand on gun control or abortion, or had at least taken a more nuanced approach, like Mr. Trump did, as strange as that is to say that about Mr. Trump, when he refused many times to endorse the idea of ending Planned Parenthood, it is hard to say what would have happened. That is why these issues have been called the third rail of politics. There is no safe side.

In 2008 President Obama accurately if disparagingly identified the Democrats’ 2016 problem with the voters:

“They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Eight years later, now President elect Trump played repeatedly on those issues. He played on them just like Jimi Hendrix played the guitar, with originality and power. They propelled him straight to the White House.

The Democratic party must find an acceptable answer on these issues. If the Democratic Party is going to return as a truly national party it is going to have to change its approach to something different on at least some of these issues. There are very real political risks if it does not.

For example, in the 2016 presidential election the Democratic Party enjoyed an immense lead with Hispanic voters. However, while Hispanics have favored the Democratic Party over the Republican Party in every presidential election since at least the 1980s, their electoral impact has long been limited by low voter turnout and much more important as this election has proved, a population concentrated in non-battleground states. This support was so even though Hispanics are generally Roman Catholic and the Catholic Church takes a very dim view of abortion. This creates a huge opportunity for Republican politicians like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz to penetrate Democratic strongholds just as Mr. Trump penetrated traditional Democratic states in 2016 with his message on job losses.

As for Trump and the Republicans, I was as dumbfounded as most were by his nomination and then by his election. He tapped into long simmering voter anger and exploited it ruthlessly. It remains to be seen whether this compulsive dealer can retain his support as he actually begins to make choices, to make deals. It will also be interesting to see if Speaker Ryan can deliver the votes necessary to create a Trump Administration program.

For my part, I remain as doubtful of the success of a Trump presidency as I was of his candidacy. As an American I hope that I am wrong again.