About the Book


On June 28, 1967, a group of over one hundred young men, as well as four young women, were sworn into the Marine Corps at a Minnesota Twins baseball game. I was one of those young men. We were dubbed the “Twins Platoon” This book tells the story of what happened to us after we were cheered off the ball field. It tells of our Marine Corps training, our Vietnam experiences, and what happened to us when we returned home.

In late 1984, more than a decade after I had left the Marine Corps, the thought came to me to write a book about what happened to the Twins Platoon. At that time I knew very little about the fates of the others, because we were so widely dispersed following our boot camp graduation. My knowledge of the Vietnam War – of how our military actions fit into the larger picture-did not extend much beyond my own personal experience. Thinking about it I concluded that it would take years, maybe a lifetime, to gather the information and piece it together. Deciding that it was just too massive an undertaking, I dismissed the idea. Still as the years passed, I found myself becoming increasingly inspired to take on the challenge. What started as an idea became a calling, and in the summer of 1990 I began to work in earnest on a written account of the Twins Platoon.

My boot camp graduation book contained the names of all my fellow recruits and served as the starting point for locating the others, I conducted my first interview on July 27, 1990. By the end of the year I had completed a total of twenty interviews. An additional twenty-two interviews took place over the next twelve years, with the last interview occurring on August 31, 2002. I prepared and used a questionnaire that contained a list of some twenty-eight open-ended questions. Some of the questions I asked were: “Why did you enlist in the Marine Corps?”; What was your most memorable experience in training?”; “Were you sent to Vietnam?”; Were you wounded in action?”; and Give a chronology of your Vietnam service.” I tape recorded the interviews and kept to myself any comments or information that I had until after the interview was completed. This way I avoided biasing the individual’s responses. To further verify and accurately detail past events, I obtained, with their consent, each person’s military and medical records. In only two cases were the records not complete. Important facts were also obtained from eyewitness accounts, testimonials, and the expanding body of knowledge being assembled by historians and authors. A number of published military histories were used as references. The Battle of Hue TET 1968 and The Magnificient Bastards by Keith William Nolan, and Khe Sanh: Siege in the Clouds by Eric Hammel, were especially helpful in piecing together what happened to a number of my fellow recruits. The United States Marine Corps History and Museums Division provided useful information in the form of monthly unit command chronologies, after action reports, and various historical publications. Other resources included newspapers, magazines, periodicals, video tapes, personal letters, photos, and documents from the Minnesota State Department of Health.

By 1998 I had devoted some seventeen thousand hours toward the completion of the manuscript. Researching and writing the book consumed most of my spare time, vacation days, and weekends. At times I worked on it from early morning to late night. On average I worked some forty hours a week on it, while still working my regular full time job as an insurance agent.

I recently came across a high school paper written by my youngest daughter Sharon six years ago when she was fifteen years old. In her assignment paper she wrote about her father: “He wrote his book from when I was 6 to when I was age 15. So I have lived my life hearing about Vietnam. I have talked to and seen what an impact his book had on the families of the ones he wrote about. The book brought closure to part of their lives they did not know about. From a terrible war I have seen good come out of it.”

I extensively interviewed twenty-seven recruits and fifteen of their loved ones. Along with the other information that I complied from various sources, this became too voluminous to fit into any one book. I decided not to look for the remaining recruits, because I was confident their experiences would closely mirror those already interviewed.

During the fifteen-year period that I worked to complete the manuscript, I never tired or lost interest in it. I was continually motivated by how things always seened to fall into place. From finding lost documents to tracking down unknown witnesses, the results were always the same. I always ended up with whatever I needed. On December 11, 2002, I wrote in a Christmas letter to a number of people, “I have always felt very strongly that this manuscript will one day be published. At times it seems to have a life of its own.” By the year 2000, I became so convinced that the publication of the book was inevitable that I went public, expressing this view to more than a hundred people over the next three years.

The final version of the manuscript attempts to reflect the breadth of the Marine Corps experience in vietnam during 1968 to 1969. To do this I had to omit some very intense combat situations. Several of these Marines served with distinction, saw many of their brothers-in arms fall in battle, and lived to grieve over them. Other members of the Twins Platoon served honorably while seeing little or no combat. It is important for the reader to know that for every Marine I have written about, there are many others whose experiences were similar but go unreported.

From: PREFACE – The Twins Platoon