A-bout-Face, Forward March by Stephen Paul Campos | Books in Review

Stephen Paul Campos’s A-bout Face, Forward March (AuthorHouse, 295 pp., $28.99, hardcover, $19.95, paper) is about “surviving the turmoil and uncertainties of life and trying to heal and make sense of them afterward, ” the author writes in his preface. “This is my personal journey from my ‘in-sanity’ in my addictions and dysfunctions to new birth, hope, peace and  serenity .”

Campos grew up in Modesto, California. “I often dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player, ” he writes. “I also fantasized about being in the Army, a soldier like John Wayne, and single-handedly winning the war.”

After graduating from high school, Campos married his girlfriend after she became pregnant. He then briefly lived a “hippie lifestyle, ” as he puts it, and enrolled in junior college. But Campos was an indifferent student and his marriage was on the rocks when his wife gave him an ultimatum: “Go into the service or we’ll get divorced.”

Campos “got into a lot of trouble” in the summer of 1967, he says, and decided the Army would be the way to escape. “Maybe the service wasn’t a bad idea, ” he writes. “If I joined the Army, then I would not have to worry about getting drafted and being sent out in the infantry.”

Stephen Paul Campos

He did join the Army at age nineteen, but wound up in the infantry anyway, serving a combat-heavy tour of duty from April 1968 to April 1969 with two companies in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade. Compos tells his life story in this book, with a heavy emphasis on his tour of duty.

The last few chapters deal with his emotionally rocky homecoming. “NO one would look at me, ” Campos writes. “NO one wanted to ask me about Vietnam. NO one would look at me. I felt the rejection and their internal opposition for my war effort.”

Campos began to drink heavily. He developed post-traumatic stress disorder. Using lots of reconstructed dialogue, he describes his many years of emotional ups and downs. He ends with a short chapter with advice on how to overcome “dysfunctions, addictions and anxiety.”

“For those of you have have been in combat, ” Compos writes, ” PLEASE take heed and get help . War does change a person. But, we can overcome it and make something beautiful out of our lives.”

The author’s website is www.a-bout-face.com

—Marc Leepson

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