Reluctant Warrior

Michael C. Hodgins, Author
Michael C. Hodgins, Author Fawcett Books $24 (329p) ISBN 978-0-449-91059-7
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Mass Market Paperbound - 368 pages - 978-0-8041-1120-1
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Formerly an enlisted ""grunt,"" Hodgins became a Marine Corps commissioned officer in 1969. He was then charged with leading an infantry platoon as part of a mission to help cover the withdrawal of the 1st Marine Division from I Corps in the northern portion of South Vietnam. Even for trained warriors, it was a treacherous job, albeit one that, as Hodgins suggests, provided ample opportunity for a young man to learn much about himself. In a promising prologue filled with clearheaded and impassioned prose, Hodgins proclaims his pride in having served in Vietnam and offers a summation of the narrative to come. His is not a war story, he writes: ""It is not even about Vietnam, although the events recounted occurred there."" What follows, though, is at odds with this introduction, in both style and content. For this memoir is very much a war story, replete with detailed recountings of Marine life and missions as experienced by a warrior who, despite the title, shows no sign of having been ""reluctant."" The combat episodes are related with suspense and, at times, startling honesty. In one instance, a gung-ho Hodgins is in charge of a patrol that has captured some Vietnamese prisoners. As the rest of the team departs, he is left alone with a wounded captive. ""He smiled up at me, the cigarette dangling from his lip,"" Hodgins writes. ""I smiled back, and pulled the trigger."" Moments later, the young lieutenant coolly rolls the corpse atop a grenade and pulls the safety pin. This and Hodgins's other close-up war stories will appeal to action-adventure buffs, but those looking for a larger perspective will have to look elsewhere. Photos. (Jan.)
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