Jim Parker survived 5 years on the battlefield, serving initially as a 22 year old 2nd Lt platoon leader with the 1st Division that gyroed over from Fort Riley. His battalion was the first to encounter the Cu Chi tunnels and months later led the 1st Division in the successful Minh Thanh counter-ambush. Wounded and honored for bravery, Parker returned to what appeared to be an ungrateful nation.
He married, returned to UNC/Chapel Hill and was recruited as a CIA operative in August 1970. After a year of CIA special ops and clandestine intelligence training, he was posted to Laos where he led Hmong guerrillas in General Vang Pao rag tag army against invading North Vietnamese.
After the Lao cease fire, he transferred to the delta of Vietnam to work as a spy and to liaise with South Vietnam Army commanders. His wife and two adopted Thai children lived in safe havens first in Vientiane, Laos and then in Taipei, Taiwan. He was the last man out of Vietnam, leaving two days after the American embassy was evacuated.
Parker preludes his personal war story with a chronology of events that led to the US military involvement in Vietnam; pulling no punches in criticizing US policy makers for enormous mistakes in laying out the battlefield and the Department of Defense for developing bad strategy.
For those who haven't read much about combat in Southeast Asia, The Vietnam War Its Ownselfwill be a start to finish education. It begins and ends with the respectful pledge... Duty, Honor, Country... but it is a fun read, full of history, adventure and - juxtaposed to the catastrophic horror and weariness of war - great humor. Writing in his unique, loose-gaited southern style, Parker introduces readers to memorable men and women; Peterson, Bratcher, Dunn, Spencer, Woolley, Burke, Brenda, Jerry, Hog, Kayak, Vang Pao, General An, Mim, Joe, Hardnose, Loi, General Hai and General Hung.... The good American, Lao, Thai and South Vietnamese G.I.s, the bad American war managers.
For those with a library of Vietnam books, there is much new in this tome... some aspects took more than two years to clear the CIA's Publication Review Board including one item that appears in this book for the first time in any literature on Southeast Asia fighting, 1965-1975.
The Vietnam War Its Ownself is a compilation of Parker's Last Man Out, Codename Mule, Covert Ops and Timeline: Battle for Skyline Ridge with new declassified information, transitional stories and much additional detail. Following are reviews on those books.
"Couldn't put it down. I recommend this book to anybody." By a customer amazon.com (Covert Ops)
"Uplifting and insightful....a skilled storyteller with a knack for weaving quick tales with revealing punch lines....." Publishers Weekly (Last Man Out)
"I've read and re-read this book many times over the years and shared it with many of my friends and team mates. These true life stories, from our forgotten heroes in another war, serve as valuable "special warfare" lessons for today's world and those future conflicts."By genosfga amazon.com (Covert Ops)
"An enlightening story..."Library Journal (Last Man Out) "A great read!" By Firewood Buddha amazon.com (Covert Ops)
"Candid, realistic, exciting, very readable. "Ed Burke, President, 28th Infantry Association (Last Man Out)
"The book is a meticulous log of events in a part of the Secret War in Laos. I would rate it tops."€ By Charles H. Harpole amazon.com (Skyline Ridge Battle)
"Fantastic. One of the best books about Vietnam I've ever read." Reat - Barnesandnoble.com Review of Last Man Out (Last Man Out)
"Buy This Book. Every American should read this book. It is filled with history and humanity. The author has gifted us all with this thoughtful memoir." By Charles M. Leonhard amazon.com (Code name Mule).