A Journey that Needed to be Shared, July 3, 2009
Reviewed by W.H. McDonald, Jr. for Military Writer's Society of America
Vietnam veteran and author E. Franklin Evans has captured something very special in his personal war memoir, "Stand To...A Journey to Manhood". We get a good glimpse back into the life and times of a "young man" caught in the vortex of war. The reader is treated to a well written accounting of his experiences surviving both the traumas of battles and people. It is historic, personal and entertaining.
This is one of this decade's "Top 10 Best Memoirs" on the Vietnam War experience. The story is emotionally presented through the eyes of a young Army officer - but it is clearly written with the introspection of a much older author. He looks back at that time and place in his life in an attempt to understand and come to grips with these events. It is truly a journey and one that most readers will find well worth taking with this author.
The book gives us some insights on what it was like in one of the remote Special Forces Camps. The readers will find themselves fully engaged and on the edge of their seats as they read about the heavy fighting that took place in and around these camps. The book is about life and death and about those brave young men who lived and died a long time ago. But it is obvious that these events for men like Evans, will never seem that long ago. In their hearts and minds it is just like it happened yesterday.
This book gets my fullest personal endorsement and recommendation.
7101 Hwy 71W#200
Austin, Texas 78735
Stand To...A Journey to Manhood
E. Franklin Evans
Reviewed by Dr. Michael Philliber for Reader Views (4/08)
After someone has endured the harshness and horrifying fear of combat, they're left with memories. Some can only seem to deal with those memories through medications, others by suppressing them and being haunted by the ghosts in their dreams. E. Franklin Evans has confronted his memories head on by rehearsing many of them in his book "Stand To...: A Journey to Manhood."
This short book is his story, told in a manner that can be as easily grasped by a teenager as by an older adult. Though Evans could probably have recounted loads of hair-raising aspects of his tale, he has chosen to focus less on combat and more on the men he led and served with. The people one meets through Evans' account are in various ways humorously captivating, as well as believably human, whether it's the brand new Platoon Sergeant who picks up the radio receiver the wrong way and speaks into the back of it, to the Kit Carson scout who finds Evans' lost wedding band and returns it without asking for any reward. And, into this human mix is camaraderie between soldiers that grows and thrives.
The closest Evans gets to rehearsing his combat experience in detail is his recounting the highly stressful period he spent at the Ben Het Special Forces camp, A-244. This becomes the literary climax of his book. From the daily bombardment, to the nearly devastating, frightful siege on the camp by the North Vietnamese Army in February and March 1969, through the tense time when "friendly" Strike Force units held the American soldiers of camp A-244 hostage until their demands were met, the reader will keep turning the pages to find out how it all ends.
Evans has given the non-military world a readable account of the life-shaping episode of his time in Vietnam. He has even added a fairly helpful glossary at the end of the book to aid the reader in some of the unfamiliar Army lingo.
If a reader wants to have a first-hand glimpse into infantry life in Vietnam, they will not be disappointed in reading "Stand To..: A Journey to Manhood."
http://www.war-stories.com War-Stories, and
http://www.vspa.com Vietnam Security Police Assn., Inc (USAF)
August 1966 - From the first page of chapter one, Vietnam's impact on American families, one death at a time, is evident: "Noooooooooo. They've Killlllled himmmm!" is a wake up call; the nightly Five O'clock Follies war news is all too real.
Raised in the shadows of the World War II generation and weaned on film heroes like John Wayne, Errol Flynn, and Randolph Scott, young war-age men like Evans believed America could never lose a war, being killed in action was out of the question, and those who died did so in glory and in one piece. And yet here it was: Evans' boyhood friend, Glenn, was dead in Vietnam.
A short two years later, Evans had crossed the lines from high school, college student, military enlistment and graduate from Infantry Officer Candidate School. As his aircraft descended into Vietnam, he remembered everything that had brought him to his awaiting destiny.
Thrown as fodder in to the Vietnam jungles, young Army Lieutenant Evans quickly earned his platoon's respect and trust, and the confidence of his superiors. He would need both as they fought along the borders. With bone-weary words blurring into pictures, Evans' recalls to life the memories and wandering shadows of the Vietnam War we all remember: life, death, and dreams revisited. Thundering convoys, air strikes, green tracers--red tracers--and both meant sudden death.
Vietnam borders, phantom Laos-Cambodia choppers, and charred bodies in the wire, all combined to an unnatural fear as you stalked the trail. A wariness crept in to your DNA. Bamboo viper snakes beckoned for a quick two-step ... a short dance with death; elephants packing supplies on the Ho Chi Minh Trail; jungle covered extinct volcanoes; LPs...One Click, Yes...Two No; Choi Hoi good-bad guys; razor sharp elephant grass; LZs, OPs, Montagnards, White Mice, Intell VC Prisoners. Fogged memories piled up and depressed the spirit to bedrock...a MOH medic... NVA bunkers, dust off sky buckets, and never underestimated staff wienies and lifers. And you recognized anew the old truth: Anywhere in a combat zone it was dangerous, and fatal, to let your guard down!
Stand To is more than a war story of misery, pain, and emotions checked at the border. It is a story of survival from enemies and friendlies alike, where both are deadly on this explosive journey to manhood. Just as important, there are glimmers of the humor that keeps combat soldiers sane, including a knife fight with a turkey, and VC chickens, that demonstrate the vitality and nature of American warriors.
Stand To...where forgotten truths are stirred from the dust and a part of your soul remains buried forever. You've lived the memories through the decades ... if not, then you weren't there. Stand To ... A Must Read!
Check out Stand To VIDEO PREVIEW
"Stand To...A Journey to Manhood"
E. Franklin Evans
Reviewed by Jim Stewart for Military Writer's Society of America (April 22, 2008)
"Stand To...A Journey to Manhood" is not just another Vietnam War book filled with clichés about this most misunderstood war. I can almost recite some of the stereotypes about the war that I have read in other books/memoirs. This is fresh, this is new. A memoir of a young Lt. Frank Evans, infantry officer, who started as a grunt officer and ended his tour of duty with the Special Forces at the battle of Ben Het. This battle was the only battle between American forces where enemy tanks also took part.
But, what made me really like this book? The humor that the author was able to inject into the story. His knife fight with a Christmas turkey, fighting Viet Cong elephants, and an elusive VC chicken, all made this otherwise serious look at the daily grind and terror that the average infantryman went through an enjoyable diversion. But, when the author needed to take you into the heat of the battle, especially Ben Het, he did so with great detail.
The book is 260 pages with 34 very much appreciated short chapters, and has many personal photos that the author was able to bring home.
This is an outstanding book.
Deserves the highest rating from MWSA.
Reviewed by Brigadier General (Ret) David E.K. Cooper, US Army and Chairman of the Board, The Hana Group, Inc.
The combat actions, accurate operational terms and portrayals of real soldiers doing their duty stir up vivid memories for those who walked into the "bush" for months at a time and walked out changed men...it was our coming of age...read this book during a quiet time as you will also see images of the long line who will be there for the rest of your life.
Reviewed by Irene Watson, Managing Editor of Reader Views 7101 Hwy 71 W #200
Austin TX 78735 June 05, 2008
Franklin Evans was a typical teenager interested in cars and girls. He went to college to stay ahead of the draft. But when his friend was killed in Vietnam, Evans realized it was time to do something meaningful so he joined the U.S. Army. The lessons he learned in Vietnam are recounted in his honest and suspenseful memoir "Stand To: A Journey to Manhood." As a combat leader, Evans found himself always needing to prepare for the worst. Despite the stress and unpredictability of war, he found enjoyment in bonding with his fellow soldiers. His memoir depicts how the struggle for survival brings about closeness among men. Evans and his comrades worked for a common goal, despite the danger threatening them, to stay alive and to defeat the enemy. They became a brotherhood with single mind and purpose.
A Journey to Manhood
By E. Franklin Evans
Reviewed by John Barclay, Editor The Ivy Leaf Magazine (July 2008)
One glance at the cover with its dark bamboo forest suggests it's not a novel and your gut says "II Corp". Evans enters the ARMY, after losing a high school friend in Vietnam. After Infantry O.C.S., in the Central Highlands and tri-border area, he sees places of unforgettable beauty. He verifies once again 4th Infantry Division history, with a description of the Vietnam War's only tank on tank battle at Ben Het.
Entering country as a new platoon LT with A/1/12 INF, the author experiences the typical Highland atypical infantry tour. Every Ivy Infantryman will know the cordons of the suspect villages, the ways of the Montagnard people, security of fire bases, and Special Forces camps, reconnaissance-in-force missions and a description of heroes that make the 4th I.D. unique. Like Private First Class Thomas Bennet, posthumously promoted to corporal, while being the only recipient of the Medal of Honor in the Vietnam War, while serving as an unarmed medic and conscientious objector. Serving a twenty-six year ARMY career, Evans waited thirty-five years to write what affected him the most. A good and honest read.
Reviewed by L. Schelling, CTA, ECC, DS (8/08)
I have to be honest in that it took me awhile to start reading Stand To...because I dislike war and everything about it. I must say, however, as a young woman who was born during the Vietnam War this novel was riveting from Chapter One. It was so compelling and extremely well written that I read it cover to cover in one day!
I studied the Vietnam War in school like many people of my age and have seen it depicted in movies. Evans' account of his involvement and what he experienced brought a whole new light on the subject for me. I could feel his every emotion personally. I felt as if I was actually there and that is a sign of a superior and excellent writer, particularly when writing autobiography.
I was, at times, a little confused with the terminology but I muttled through those parts and eventually figured out what most of the abbreviations meant. I didn't discover the glossary until I finished the book; normally those aren't provided. I think what really grabbed me personally was that I would have never realized that there were soldiers that actually wanted to extend their tour. That is what patriotism should be!
God bless E. Franklin Evans for an outstandingly well written novel and to an even greater appreciation for our military than I already had. _____________________________________________
A good read for a future soldier
Reviewed by Bill Rodgers, Kennedy Space Center (09/2008)
Frank Evans book was a "must read" for me for several reasons. Frank & I lived across the road from each other, graduated from the same high school a year apart. We "grew up" in the bedroom community of a military base. Serving your country was deemed honorable and the thing to do. The draft was looming in our future, but it amounted to a choice to be made. Honorable men made honorable choices 'just as Frank describes the two medics in his book' There were alternatives to carrying a gun into battle. People I knew joined the Air Force, Coast Guard, or the Air National Guard with very little likelihood of seeing combat. People with a backbone served their country. Frank does not pass judgment on those who didn't serve and only expresses the frustration of the anti soldier demonstrators present upon his return. I was always curious as to Frank's choice and "why?". After high school we were continents apart, so I never got to ask him personally. His book answered that question very well. He made his choice and it served him very well, giving him a career that few can imagine. I found his book a very good "read", so much that I have re-read some parts 3 times over. ' Chu Pa mountain & the Ben Het siege' His book brings out the camaraderie of men doing tasks where their life is in each other's hands. It brings out saying that war is hours of boredom interspersed with moments of sheer terror. If you know someone considering a military career this is a good book to pass on to them. It is non-political and manifests a soldiers life.
Stand To...A Journey to Manhood
E. Franklin Evans
Reviewed by Michael J. Carson, The Midwest Book Review(January 2009)
In the early sixties, war was something to be admired. Awesome heroes and no one important ever died. E. Franklin Evans has first person experience in the falsehood of that statement. "Stand To...: A Journey to Manhood" is his recollection of his harsh and sudden arrival to adulthood when he went overseas during arguably America's most controversial war in Vietnam. He returns a very different person and short a best friend. Painting a story of the harsh reality, "Stand To..." is what one needs to bring the cruelty of warfare into perspective.