ECHO AMONG WARRIORS
A Novel of Marines in the Vietnam War
by Dick Camp
Echo Among Warriors is a fictional account of gut-level combat as seen through the eyes of American and North Vietnamese participants. The setting is the dense jungle of the Khe Sanh plateau, where the author experienced the brutality of war as a Marine company commander during the North Vietnamese Army’s (NVA) build-up to the 1968 Tet offensive. His company regularly patrolled the grass-covered ridgelines and jungle-canopied valleys surrounding the Khe Sanh Combat Base (KSCB), the western anchor of a series of strongpoints that stretched across northern South Vietnam. The objective of these installations was to close the infiltration routes, but the effort resulted in ceding freedom of movement to the NVA while fixing American troops in position. Khe Sanh was a prime example. It was located on a major infiltration route that ran from the Laotian border east to the Ba Long and Ashau valleys and south to the population-rich coastal lowlands of South Vietnam.
The hills and valleys surrounding KSCB became a vicious, no-holds-barred slug fest, costing hundreds of lives on either side. In the spring of 1967 there were a series of engagements in what became known as the Hill Fights, which were focused on the four major heights northwest of KCSB—Hill 950, Hill 881 North, Hill 881 South, and Hill 861. By the fall of the year, Marines were reporting an increasing concentration of NVA troops and military equipment around the base. Intelligence reports placed the NVA 325C and 304 divisions, a total of approximately twenty thousand men, in the area. Opposing them were three infantry battalions of the 26th Marine Regiment, a battalion of the 9th Marine Regiment, and an Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) Ranger battalion totaling some six thousand men. By the time of this story, September 1967, KSCB had become a tempting target for destruction.
Echo Among Warriors is a story of close combat in a life-and-death struggle between two opposing, equally committed adversaries. It represents just one of perhaps thousands of deadly encounters that reflect the reality of battle—a mind-numbing, intensely personal experience that forever changes the participant. This powerful narrative makes it possible for the reader to experience both sides of the battle. The same battle sequence will roll forward like a movie scene and then be replayed from the opposite viewpoint—through the eyes of the Marines and sequentially through the eyes of the North Vietnamese. The bullet fired from a Marine’s M-16 at a silhouetted enemy solider crouched on the jungle path will in the next chapter tear into the flesh of that crouched NVA trooper. The story unfolds from the initial contact to the final horrific ending. In war, every action has a beginning and an end.
There has been no intention to portray gratuitous violence or profanity. War veterans know that words are insufficient to describe the destructive power of weaponry and the resulting, horrific wounds, the pain of a lost comrade, and the sudden realization that it could have been him. War causes a visceral, emotional impact on those who fight it. Profanity is like combat humor—both an integral part of the real and fictional combat picture. Veterans will already be familiar with war terminology—“Arty, Arty, Arty,” “Shot”, “Corpsman”—the greenhorn can refer to the glossary. Nor has there been any intention to depict any similarity between the characters and any veteran of the war. Each character is a composite from the author’s sometimes fallible memory. They are rather like a kaleidoscope reflecting a million pieces of colored glass—no one in particular, yet everyone together.
Combat is not for the faint of heart . . . and neither is this book!