Book Review by Bob Edmonds published on May 19, 2016 in the McCormick Messenger. Mr. Edmonds has long written weekly book reviews for this newspaper, and is noted as both an author and historian. To date he has published fifteen books. He is a past president of the South Carolina Historical Society and a recipient of the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian award.
Terry Wilson describes his book as “a tribute to all the men and women who served in the armed forces of the United States during the era of the Vietnam War.”
The Vietnam War was a long, costly armed conflict that pitted the communist regime of North Vietnam and the southern allies, known as the Viet Cong, and South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. The divisive war, increasingly unpopular at home, ended with the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 1973, and the unification of Vietnam under Communist control two years later. More than three million people, including 58,000 Americans were killed in the conflict.
When American servicemen returned home from Vietnam, each returned to a different world than they knew prior to engagement in the War. Our nation’s culture changed. Veterans no longer were held in the high esteem their parents enjoyed following World War Two. Childhood friends who avoided the military draft ridiculed these returning heroes. Each faced a stigma of disrespect causing many to question their own worthiness.
58,272 names are now engraved in the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. In addition to the men and women killed in action, thousands of additional names will never find their place on the wall. These heroes died following their return home as a direct result of their service in Vietnam. Both physical and emotional wounds, as well as disease caused from exposure to Agent Orange, attests to the supreme sacrifice each rendered.
Years after loss of his leg in Vietnam, Sam Davis visits the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. to honor Paul Morse, the man who saved his life. Sam remembers, “Paul was probably the best friend I ever had. He came from Philadelphia and was a standout athlete in high school. He had been the quarterback on the football team and an excellent pitcher on the baseball team. Prior to entering the Army, he received a minor league contract with a team in Florida. That’s what drew the two of us together. I was the catcher on my high school team. It provided us a bond from the start.”
But, Paul’s name was not inscribed on the wall. Why? Sam saw him killed. Could he have survived?
Against all odds, Sam searched for the friend and hero he owes everything, and rediscovers his own strength, resiliency and faith along the way.
Tarnished Valor is an exciting, exceptional reading experience readers will remember for a long time. Tarnished Valor will add to accomplished writer Terry Wilson’s growing list of novels.
Wilson said, “Writing consumes a substantial amount of my time, and as a retired architect who had a fast-pace and hectic schedule, I needed to stay busy or go insane. I started writing fiction (a novel and short stories) in the sixties during free time while I served in the army… getting drunk everyday did not appeal to me. Architecture and writing both requires creativity, and it come natural to me. Historic fiction requires creativity closer in kind to architectural creativity than does other genres. In successful architecture all creativity must take a backseat to project requirements such as fulfilling a client’s functional requirements, the laws of physics, budgets, codes, and the like… clients still expected creativity. Historic fiction is similar… there is no clean slate. Historic facts, places and figures create a structure a writer’s creativity is bound by. I don’t have to create the historic events, but the fiction has to realistically mesh with them.