Fifty Years after Tet. By Elise Cooper
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive, in which the North Vietnamese orchestrated a massive coordinated attack throughout South Vietnam. A book out in paperback on May 8, entitled The Odyssey of Echo Company: The 1968 Tet Offensive and the Epic Battle to Survive the Vietnam War, takes readers on the journey of Stan Parker. Americans need to be reminded of soldiers like Parker who fought patriotically for this country. While in Afghanistan, researching another book, Horse Soldiers, Doug Stanton met Sergeant Major Stan Parker, one of the U.S. Army's longest serving soldiers. Parker convinced him to write a book about the stories of the men he served with in Vietnam. Like many in Echo Company, a Recon Company in the 101st Airborne Division, Parker enlisted to fight for his country against the evils of communism. They arrived in mid-December 1967 in Vietnam just prior to Tet. Parker speaks to Stanton about the unending list of horrors, losses, and miseries, not just overseas, but also on the home front, that he and his peers endured. Unfortunately, many of those who fought overseas are still thinking, feeling, and tasting the battlefield, but they hide the experience, reluctant to talk about it because people are not receptive. Parker was injured three times, receiving two Purple Hearts, but he turned down the third because once someone gets three, he is returned home. The reason he wanted to stay was so his comrades would not think he had deserted them. There was the realization that they might have to die so their fellow soldiers could survive.