J. Eldon Holbrook's "Freedom Hill: The Alpha and Omega" has been released by the print-on-demand company 1st Books (www.1stBooks.com.).
The book chronicles the combat of the Vietnam War through the eyes of Holbrook, an 18-year-old Marine at the time. Without censoring himself, the Brainerd native -- who went on to a career as a gunnery sergeant from which he retired in 1999 -- reveals the misery, tragedy and the constant threat of danger he shared with his fellow Marines.
On the book's back cover, it explains: "He decided to write this book after realizing most Vietnam books were about a battle or incident. None explored the day to day life in Vietnam. He needed to tell that story."
"Freedom Hill" begins when Holbrook is at Washington Senior High School (now Brainerd High School). The book details the anguish of dealing with the local draft board, the hopes of finishing school, the fear and depression during the induction physical and upon receiving the harrowing draft letter. Before he knows it, Holbrook must endure Marine boot camp and depart for Southeast Asia.
The book follows the young Marine through 13 months of duty. As part of the Motor Transport Battalion, he interacts with numerous other Marines. The author's depiction offers insight into the mentality of these soldiers and the attitudes of "old salts" and "short timers" versus the fresh soldiers or "boots." Holbrook describes his first flrefight that resulted in a heavy body count and the cleanup that followed.
"I helped pick up the dead bodies and load them onto huge cargo nets so the helicopters could haul them away. A piece of my soul was ripped from me and I knew it was gone forever," Holbrook writes.
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