Archive for the ‘Vietnam’ Tag

When Dark Closes In – Historical Fiction

When Dark Closes In – Historical Fiction

This is a historical fiction story taking place during the sixties and seventies time period era when the Vietnam War drafted and pulled in thousands of U.S. troops to help South Vietnam in their fight against the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong. The war was over by 1975 when the North Vietnamese advanced on Saigon, claiming it and all of the south. With a casualty count of 58,000 American lives lost and thousands more missing, it became one the longest and deadliest wars in U.S. history. There were thousands more troops (MIAs – Missing in Action) whose bodies or remains were not found or recovered years later, and still some declared missing to this day.  This story is about the lives of men and women who lived and fought during that time when the darkness and shadows of a hated war drew them into the throes of turmoil and despair. It is in the pages of history where names and faces may never be remembered by one generation, and never known by the next, unless we tell their story. This story is fiction, as are the names, and the faces I see, the images of characters created, but their stories could be real. They could be ours.  And, it is because of history that those coming after us can learn and know what happened then, and appreciate what history has taught us all.

I started writing this story back in the eighties and had several chapters written when I attended a writers’ conference in Colorado Springs, Co., my home town. It was held by the Christian Writers’ Guild. I received training, instruction and mentoring through the guild’s instructors, and completed my course work in 2004 with certification for the Journeyman status. To me, that was a big step and plus in my writing achievement for one who was never able to attend college and earn a degree in Creative Writing and Journalism which I had always desired, and dreamed of doing. But, through the Christian Writers’ Guild I received some of the very best instruction and training out there with their online and correspondence courses. While attending the conference I had the honor and privilege of having Jerry B. Jenkins, owner and director of the guild, and author of the best-selling series LEFT BEHIND  (in partnership with co-author Tim La Haye) critique the first chapter of my book manuscript. Jerry is one of my all time favorite Christian authors. It was a highlight for me during that whole writers’ conference. The future of this story depends on a few very important things:  (1) how it is received (in the way of interest) by those reading its first chapters, and (2) how much time I will have or can allow to get it finally finished without having other interruptions interfere.  But, as a writer of fiction it is not only the desire to write for ourselves, and to entertain the reader, but sometimes there is a story out there that will not rest until it is told and a completed final draft finished. It has to be written, and this is one of those kinds of stories. Maybe it is too that I and my husband were eighteen in 1965 like Jennifer, graduating high school, engaged to be married, and waiting the outcome of the draft board’s decision, knowing first hand what it was like to live through that time as young adults.

____________________

Joyce E. Johnson

Fiction, Historical Fiction, Writing, Creating Characters, The Daily Post, Weekly Writing Challenge: characters

The below post is my submission for this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge in The Daily Post.  It is based on a fictional character in my Historical fiction story, entitled, WHEN DARK CLOSES IN.

Character analysis: Scott is a soldier in the Vietnam War, who was drafted into the army while a student attending a college in Seattle, Washington. He writes this letter home to his father about his experiences during the war while stationed in South Vietnam.

Scene – Scott is in Vietnam writing this letter from his base camp.

_________________________

March, 1966.

Hi dad,

I’ve been in Vietnam now for six months and now know the basics in warfare tactics, survival and aggression. My instinct is tested daily when out on patrol with my unit. Those that can’t cut it are easy prey for the VC, and the NVA. My M-16 remains the only friend I know won’t leave me. Fatigue, exhaustion is my constant companion. My eardrums roar from the sounds of planes and helicopters overhead, gun fire, shouts and screams.

Sometimes, I have to force my stomach from heaving its contents when I see the dying lay helpless in our wake. Their blood soaks the ground. Bullets or shrapnel become imbedded inside their bodies, with open, gaping wounds. Flies and vultures swarm in to lay claim to their remains. Medics cannot help them all. Only the monsoons help wash the earth of their blood. But, nothing washes away the memory. Their fading cries linger in my head. I hear them over and over again. There is no time to grieve the death of friends I’ve made. I just watch the medics wrap them up and send them home in a transport.

Reports from home tell about the apathy for the soldiers here. Does anyone there care we are dying here? The guys have become numb to feeling compassionate, or committed to the South’s cause. This has become a political war. Those in WA., DC that decide our fate should be here. We would choose theirs. And they would go home in body bags.

Whether with, or without the U.S. help, the South Vietnamese will fight on, to keep their side free from the Viet Cong. More often the south unleashes its violence on mere villagers with the intent to annihilate and wipe out evidence of V.C. presence, or compromise. Yet, there is still infiltration in the South Vietnamese Army. It is hard to distinguish between the two. At times, we don’t know who we’re fighting. We just fire. The country has gone mad and crazy with war. There was some talk in our unit of an elite group called, SWARM, Specialized Warfare Against the Revolutionaries’ Movement.

I hope you get this. I don’t know when I will have time to write as things are getting intense around Da Nang, and our unit may be heading north. My only momentary relief comes from looking at Jen’s picture, and reading her letters from home. Dad, don’t let her or mom know about this letter.

I pray I make it back home. Give mom, and my kid sister a hug.

love, Scott

___________________

Joyce E. Johnson


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