One Man's Vietnam War
"Poignant, cutting, witty, humorous, trenchant, optimistic and devastatingly honest, Bailey chronicles the profound and the mundane as he struggles to maintain his humanity in the face of war."
Garry Dow, Pomfret School
Loring M. Bailey Jr. graduated from Trinity College, Hartford Connecticut, in 1967. The recipient of writing awards in fiction, a graphic artist, and an ardent automobile enthusiast, Ring continued with graduate courses in English, and was a technical writer for the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation. His love for automobiles was seen through pen and ink sketches, water colors, short stories on racing, a collection of plastic and metal die cast replicas, and an extensive library of volumes on development, history and design. With a perennial thirst for good writing, Ring was a vigorous reader, and a strong admirer of Ernest Hemingway. In the spring of 1968, under the threat of the draft, Ring enlisted in the Army with the option for Officers Candidate School. From his induction in June 1968 and Basic training in Fort Knox Kentucky, began a series of letters to his family, fiance, and friends that became his only dependable means of communication. With an Infantry assignment, basic training led to nine weeks of Advanced Infantry Training in the swamps of Fort Polk Louisiana, "Tigerland: The Home of Infantry Training for Viet Nam". While at Polk, arrangements were made through the mail for a Christmas wedding, and on December 23, 1968, Ring was married to Maris Carlson. Ring continued training with the Officers Candidate School at Fort Belvoir Virginia, where a recurrent knee infection kept him in and out of the base hospital. After six months at Belvoir, he was recycled out of the program and placed on a holdover status, where the final ten months of his Army career was mapped. This included a 39 day leave and nine months of combat infantry in Viet Nam. In early October 1969, Ring reached the war zone, was assigned to the Americal Division, and was stationed at Landing Zone Liz, a forward fire base that operated out of Chu Lai, RVN. Writing stations were established immediately, and the letters flowed regularly out of the jungle. In mid-November, Ring was assigned as the commanding officers' radio telephone operator, and shortly after that, promoted from private first class to specialist fourth. On the fifteenth of March 1970, while on Nui Chap Vung Mountain in the Quang Ngai province, Ring was fatally wounded from the detonation of a hidden anti-personnel device. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart. This volume contains edited excerpts of his letters. They were written to his wife, parents and close friends. To his wife and parents he was often over protective, and the horrors of war were veiled and indirect. He wrote of his physical needs and desires, of the equipment he used, and always optimistically about the future. To friends David and Yvette Toohey, he wrote more directly of the overall military actions with histories and fictions that blended reality with the absurd and drew parallels to the home front. To his brother-in-law Rik, his letters shared an interest in good writing and a love for automobiles. We who assembled this book felt a need to share what Ring wrote to us. The insight of an articulate and energetic soldier shows Viet Nam in the direct perspective of one man in a war with a 360 degree front. We present it to you as it was written to us: in a calm frenzy. Maris Bailey Mr. & Mrs Loring M. Bailey Sr. David & Yvette Toohey Rik Carlson
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