Rick Jameson leaves his small Iowa town for the jungles of Viet Nam expecting to come home and marry his high school sweetheart, Vickie Richards. But when he receives a “Dear John” letter with her engagement ring enclosed, Rick decides to be the biggest badass Marine the Viet Cong have ever dealt with. After all…what does he have to live for now?
On one suicide mission too many, Rick is shot and left for dead, only to be discovered by a young Vietnamese girl, Hang Le. She saves Rick’s life, and their passion flares in the steamy jungles of southeast Asia.
Years later, when Rick returns to Viet Nam with his military buddies, a chance encounter with Hang Le’s brother leads Rick to her door. He’s a millionaire now; but as a successful clothing designer, Hang Le has her own life she might not want to give up for the American who left her behind. Now that the war is over, will Rick and Hang Le be able to rekindle the love they had to turn their backs on so long ago?
A plume of light brown dust rose up off the dusty California roadway as the military bus slowed to a stop.
Rick Jameson shifted in his seat to look out the window of the bus he was riding in. All he could see was what appeared to be about twenty to thirty people, lined up in front of the gates to Camp Pendleton.
They grabbed hold of each other’s hands, making a human chain, blocking the entryway into the camp. Most carried signs, some with slogans written on them that read, “Baby Killers”, or “Murderers”.
The group consisted of a mix of people. Preppy college kids stood next to longhaired hippie types with jeans, beards, and peace signs painted on their clothes. Parents and relatives who had lost their loved ones in the war, stood right alongside the others. They were demanding the government end this senseless war.
With batons in hand, the MPs came through the gates of the base to break it up. One college kid, blond, blue eyed, dressed in his white oxford shirt, and black chinos, laid down. He started whipping out his draft card, trying to set fire to it. This being a federal offense, the MPs got involved. They pulled the kid roughly to his feet, and started to handcuff him. Rick watched from his seat on the bus, as things just went from bad to worst. The rest of the crowd started yelling, and cussing the MPs.
One after another they lay down, arms still linked. They refused to get up. More MPs along with the local police were called onto the scene.
Rick’s bus finally chugged through the gates. He looked back to see the MPs using their batons on the protesters, and dragging them off to the cruisers that lined the side of the road. His eyes were wide open now.
Camp Pendleton stretched out before him. It went on for miles, over 200 square miles to be exact. It consisted of seventeen miles of undeveloped oceanfront property—coastal mountains, and inland away from the ocean, were undeveloped wetlands. At one time, it had been a cattle ranch.
Being fresh out of high school, having graduated only two days ago, he sat back in his seat and wondered what he had gotten himself into. Ever since he’d been a kid, he’d talked of nothing but being a Marine. Now, here he was, ready to start a new life. Most of the guys on the bus were draftees –but not Rick; he’d enlisted.
He had grown up in a small town, the eldest child and only boy, with six sisters. He could not wait to get away.
The tough part was leaving his fiancée, Vickie Richards, behind. Had it only been two days since he’d seen her? It felt like a month. It was going to be okay, though. They’d talked about it their last night together. As soon as he was finished with basic training, he’d send for her, and then they’d get married.
The bus pulled to a stop. They all stared as a man with a crew-cut styled haircut boarded the bus. He stood at six-feet-two, and weighed in at about two-hundred-and-fifty pounds—all muscle.
“Okay, recruits, off the bus and line up.”
They shuffled off the bus, their gear in hand. They all looked half-scared. Most were about the same age as Rick; eighteen, soon to be nineteen. They were from all over the United States.
Rich had flown into San Diego with some of them from Eppley Airfield out of Omaha, Nebraska. Most of them were middle-class, small town boys or farmers. Their eyes were as big as his were as they lined up, waiting for the next order from the giant of a man that stood before them.
“At ease, I am Corporal Kline. You may call me Sir. As I call out your name, answer ‘Sir, yes, sir’, got that?”
It was so quiet one could hear a pin drop.
“I can’t hear you!” he bellowed out loudly.
“Sir, yes, sir,” the new recruits yelled back at him.
“Sir, yes, sir.”
“Sir, yes, sir.”
All the way through the alphabet he went, with a few screw-ups along the way. The guys who didn’t respond correctly were given fifty push-ups right off the bat. Rick was sure to answer promptly and correctly.
After living with his old man for eighteen years, he learned early on to follow orders—and what could happen if you didn’t do as you were told. His dad was a real tough guy. There was nothing he liked better than to knock you around. It was his way, or not at all. His life was like one of those old country songs: guy cheats on his wife, gets drunk, comes home, and beats the crap out of the wife and kids.
“No matter how tough this is here, it has to be better than home,” he thought to himself, as he stood at attention in line.