Hello, Wigwam by L. John Lawrence
Reviewed by Bob Jasper
In Hello, Wigwam, L. John Lawrence pulls together a dozen or so intriguing stories in this fictionalized memoir based on his experiences in Vietnam. In a short 150 pages, Lawrence captures the reader and endears him to his alter ego, Private Albert Costas.
Costas arrives at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon in the scorching heat of August 1970, just 10 weeks after graduating from high school and fresh out of Army boot camp. He’s immediately thrust into the insanity of war. Though not assigned to a combat unit, Costas gets a good feel for the “Absurdities of War” (the first section of the book). Assigned to MAC-V (Military Assistance Command – Vietnam), Costas faces such grave questions as whether or not President Herbert Hoover is still alive and who is the “Phantom Shitter” and what about the “Dead Bed?” Lawrence entertains with the humor of Catch-22, and the excitement of expeditions behind enemy lines.
Costas, who has no experience as a journalist, wonders why the Army assigned him of all people to a unit that writes press releases and provides information to other military units.
Each of the twenty short chapters of Hello, Wigwam relates an incident with humor amid the pathos of war building up to several climactic chapters in which Costas joins a Special Ops unit headed north of the DMZ on a Top-Secret mission.
Even while on R&R in Honolulu, Costas manages to get himself into a jam so threatening it has him yearning to return to Vietnam, and the reader wondering if he’ll make it.
The only drawback to this delightful little book is its shortness. Like any good book, it leaves the reader panting for more.
L. John Lawrence had an interesting career in the Air Force. After that, he joined NASA and became the voice of the Space Shuttle program for the first 24 Space Shuttle flights. He’s earned several awards for his writing.
For more information on Lawrence and his other books, visit his website: http://www.ljohnlawrence.com.
This book can also be obtained direct from the publisher, 4RV Publishing, 35427 State Highway 58, Hydro, OK 73048, or http://4rvpublishingcatalog.com.