The Ground You Stand Upon (Hardcover)
Life of a Skytrooper in Vietnam
Joshua Bowe, 9780578541068, 412pp.
Publication Date: July 5, 2019
Awarded the Silver Medal by the Military Writers Society of America - Sent into the deadly Central Highlands of Vietnam, the true story of my dad and his fellow skytroopers of the 1st Air Cavalry from 1966 to 1967. Wilbur E. Bowe was living on his family's farm when he was drafted in 1965 and assigned to Alpha Company, 5th Battalion, 7th Calvary. The 5/7th Cavalry was formed as a brand-new battalion in order to fill out the 1st Air Cavalry Division's 3rd Brigade. The young men of the battalion were largely drafted together in 1965 as the build-up of regular Army forces in Vietnam had just begun. Together, these impossibly young men would be trained in the airmobile infantry and become what were known as "skytroopers". They would then be sent deep into the jungles of Vietnam, where together they would learn what "search and destroy" meant and face the reality of this new war.
The story features many of the letters and photographs my dad sent home from the war zone. His dispatches were sent from some of the most remote valleys and outposts in Vietnam, written under the most austere of conditions, often scribbled in haste before another mission, or by flashlight, under a poncho in the rain. They would travel over 8,000 miles across the ocean, to be placed in a mailbox that stood across from a farmhouse, along a rural county road in Wisconsin.
Many former skytroopers of Alpha Company were interviewed for this story, and their personal accounts recall much of the humor and friendship they shared, along with the sadness and tragedy that would accompany a year spent in the jungles of Vietnam. The story also draws upon the 5/7th Cavalry's daily staff journals and situation reports for every day of the battalion's first year in Vietnam.
This is their story, told in great detail from their time spent training together at Fort Carson - through their historic journey across the ocean aboard the USNS Gaffey, where they would encounter a massive typhoon - through their many battles fought together in Vietnam - and eventually, their final patrol.