Father Soldier Son: Memoir of

Nathaniel Tripp

The first duty of an infantry officer is the care of his men, but Nathaniel Tripp grew up fatherless in a house run by women and he arrived in Vietnam as a just-promoted second lieutenant in the summer of 1968 with no memory of a mans example to guide and sustain him. The father missing from Tripps life had gone off to war as well, in the Navy in World War II, but the terrors were too much for him, he disgraced himself, and after the war ended he could not bring himself to return to his wife and young son. The occasional visit, the odd Christmas or birthday present, were all Tripp remembered of his father when he got off a plane in the heat of Saigon and an infantry platoon was entrusted to his care.Tripps men were often in combat in the jungles along Highway 13 during the bloodiest year of the war but it was responsibility, not the enemy, that Tripp feared most. How Tripp learned to face both, to become the father he had barely known, to support and sustain the men in his care, are the subjects of this unusual memoir of one mans year in Americas longest, saddest war.But it is the human story of Tripp and his flawed, distant father that take hold of the readers mind. How Tripp gradually came to understand the strange trajectory of his fathers life, what he learned from leading his platoon in battle that helped in the raising of his own sons in northern Vermont, the lingering images of the war that continue to frequent his dreams - all these make Father, Soldier, Son a powerful account of the experience of war by succeeding generations, of what fathers can teach sons, and of what sons must learn for themselves.