The lead item in the “Books in Review” column in the September/October 2012 issue of The VVA Veteran was a favorable review of Andrew Wiest’s The Boys of ’67: Charlie Company’s War in Vietnam . Wiest’s first-rate book looked at a company of the 4th Battalion, 47th Infantry of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division—the draftee-heavy unit that was raised in 1966 and trained as a unit for service in the Vietnam War:
In the book Wiest follows a group of men who were drafted into the reformed 9th Infantry Division. After training in the States, the men went to Vietnam in January 1967 together on a troop ship. In Vietnam, the men of Charlie Company soon became enmeshed in the worst the war had to offer.
The new two-hour National Geographic Channel documentary , “Brothers In War, ” which aired on the channel March 26, is based on Wiest’s book. The doc, which was put together by Lou Reda Productions , is aided immeasurably by digitally enhanced home movies of the men in training and in Vietnam. It also includes stock war footage, news clips, and narration from back in the day, along with present-day interviews with a dozen or so Charlie Company veterans.
The men left for Vietnam after training at Fort Riley on January 10, 1967, on a World War II-era transport ship. After three weeks at sea, they landed in Vietnam. In April Charlie Company was assigned to the Mekong Delta as part of the Mobile Riverine Force, functioning as the infantry arm of that joint Army-Navy operation. The men of Charlie Company suffered extremely high casualty rates; 25 were killed in action and 105 were wounded. Many of the men suffered anew after returning home, battling post-traumatic stress disorder for decades.
The doc effectively recreates what the men went through on the ground in Vietnam. A lot of it was harrowing and the film does not avoid close-up images of dead and wounded American soldiers. The actor Charlie Sheen, who narrated and starred in Platoon , provides voice overs, but most of the narration comes from the men of Charlie Company, most of whom articulately explain what they went through more than four decades ago.