Fresh out of Infantry OCS, 2nd Lieutenant Dennis Riley gets a reality check when he joins his platoon in the Hobo Woods, south of Cui Chi, home of the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam. It was a blistering hot August in 1967 when he met the men of the Third Platoon, Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry. By nightfall they are in contact with elements of the 272nd NVA and the blood letting seldom takes a break for the next twelve months. Dennis and his men are frequently ambushed, mortared and booby trapped, but by New Year’s 1967/68 they are ready for the fight of their life at Fire Support Base Burt, north of Tay Ninh, astride the Cambodian border. The 2nd Battalion (Mech) and the 3rd Battalion hold off the combined assaults of four North Vietnamese regiments killing over 600 of the enemy by daybreak. Absolution vividly describes the carnage and American heroism of that battlefield using the eyewitness accounts of helicopter gunship and medivac pilots, platoon leaders, sergeants and the fighting men.
Now a First Lieutenant, Dennis Riley is selected to command Charlie Company, badly demoralized after losing twelve killed and dozens wounded at Burt. At the onset of the Tet Offensive, ten more gallant Americans die as Riley and his company slug it out during sixteen days of frontal assaults against an entrenched enemy at the village of Ap Cho, south of Cui Chi. The description of this battle is as close to combat as you can get without having been there. And if you were there… anywhere in Vietnam, thank you and God Bless you!
April 12, 1968 was Good Friday, but the 3rd Battalion saw nothing good about a regiment of NVA screaming across their positions in the middle of the night. They paid dearly for it, losing hundreds of their Communists attackers to the 22nd Infantry. It fell to hand to hand combat, bayonet for bayonet… all night long. One hundred, fifty three NVA died within the perimeter.
In the aftermath of that carnage and the loss of so many lives, Dennis Riley grows disenchanted with the war. He is quietly reassigned to administrative duties, eventually retuning to America in late 1968. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder steals his mind and his soul as he wanders the country aimlessly, grieving the loss of so many of his men. We find Dennis astride a Texas railroad track as a fast moving Western Pacific freight train bears down on his car.
Few books can get you as close to combat and the men who sacrificed so much in Vietnam as “Absolution” does. It is action packed and factual. You’ll shed a tear or two as you travel those deadly battlefields with Dennis Riley, Charlie Company, and the 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry. If you want to know what PTSD is all about, how it effects all fighting men, and how to resolve it; this book may be a very big help to you.