A SOLDIER'S BEST FRIEND: Scout Dogs and Their Handlers in the Vietnam War

John C. Burnam, Author . Carroll & Graf $14 (362p) ISBN 978-0-7867-1137-6

Burnam is a man with a mission: to garner recognition for the 4,000 dogs and their 10,000 or so handlers who served in the Vietnam War. Burnam was one of the latter; his instructive book is a combination war memoir, a history of the use of American war dog teams in Vietnam and a plea for the construction of a National War Dog Memorial in Washington, D.C. A Colorado native, Burnam joined the army soon after graduating from high school, volunteered for jump school and went on to serve two tours in Vietnam. He was an infantryman with the First Cavalry Division and a scout dog handler with the 44th Scout Dog Platoon. Burnam saw plenty of action during both tours of duty. His first ended prematurely when he jumped out of a helicopter under fire and landed on a bamboo punji stake that impaled his right knee. He describes that and his other war experiences well, using minimal reconstructed dialogue. The most valuable part of the book is Burnam's description of his second tour, when he bravely led dangerous infantry patrols with his two scout dogs, Timber and Clipper. Of the countless American Vietnam War memoirs, none has provided such an in-depth look at the training and operations of the scout dogs and their handlers. Burnam, the current president of the Vietnam Dog Handlers Association, unabashedly lobbies for formal recognition of the Vietnam War dogs and their handlers, and by book's end, only the most canine phobic will give him an argument. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/03/2003
Release date: 02/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-1-4027-5447-0
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