When the 160 men of Charlie Company (4th Battalion/47thInfantry Regiment/9th Infantry Division) were drafted by the US Army in May 1966, they were part of thewave of conscription that would swell the American military to eighty thousandcombat troops in Vietnam by the height of the war in 1968. In the spring of1966 the war was still popular, and the draftees of Charlie Company saw theirservice as a rite of passage. But by December 1967, when the company returned home, only thirty men were not casualties—and they were among the first veterans ofthe war to be spit on and harassed by war protesters as they arrived back home.
In The Boys of ’67, Andrew Wiest, the award-winningauthor of Vietnam’s Forgotten Army and The Vietnam War 1956-1975,examines the experiences of a company from the only division in the Vietnam erato train and deploy together in similar fashion to World War II’s famous 101stAirborne Division.
Wiest interviewed more than fifty officers and enlisted menwho served with Charlie Company, including the surviving platoon leaders andboth of the company’s commanders. In addition, he interviewed fifteen familymembers of Charlie Company veterans, including wives, children, parents, andsiblings. Wiest also had access to personal papers, collections of letters, adiary, an abundance of newspaper clippings, training notebooks, field manuals,condolence letters, and photographs from before, during, and after theconflict.
As Wiest shows, the fighting that Charlie Company saw in1967 was nearly as bloody as many of the better publicized battles, includingthe infamous battles of the Ia Drang Valley and Hamburger Hill. As a result, many of thesurviving members of Charlie Company came home with what the military nowrecognizes as post-traumatic stress disorder—a diagnosis that was notrecognized until the late 1970s and was not widely treated until the 1980s. Onlyrecently, after more than forty years, have many members of Charlie Companyachieved any real and sustained relief from their suffering.