Charlie One Five by Nicholas Warr | Books in Review

Nicholas Warr grew up in Oregon. He graduated from high school in 1963, started college, but dropped out after two years and went to work in a plywood mill. “The mindless hard work and abject boredom of working graveyard shift took its toll, and I found myself in the Marine Corps recruiting office in Eugene [Oregon] in February 1966, ” Warr writes in Charlie One Five: A Marine Company’s Vietnam War (Texas Tech University, 400 pp., $39.95), a detailed history of Ware’s Vietnam War unit.

Warr took to Marine life. He did so well in boot camp that a DI recommended him for OCS, which he took at Quantico. Then came Basic School, where Warr again thrived. Offered his choice of MOS, he thought about supply and logistics, but decided to go infantry after his Basic School platoon commander “made me a deal that I couldn’t refuse, ” Warr says, “using a very effective guilt trip.”

Next came a six week “high-intensity Vietnamese language course” at Quantico, a thirty-day leave, and a flight to Vietnam in November of 1967. Warr spent his tour as a platoon commander with Charlie Company of the 1st Battalion, Fifth Marines.

His book is an in-depth Vietnam War history of Warr’s old unit beginning when it arrived in Vietnam in December of 1965. Warr spent years doing the research, using a combination of his own memories, his battalion’s Command Chronologies and Combat After-action Reports, along with other records, as well as interviews with dozens of other former Charlie One Five Marines.

Nicholas Warr

Warr—the author of Phase Line Green: The Battle for Hue, 1968 (1997)—wrote Charlie One Five , he says, to tell the truth about his unit’s Vietnam War history. He was “determined, ” Warr says in his Preface, to show how the Vietnam War “tasted and smelled, looked and felt, and how it is remembered by those who rose to the challenge of serving their country, risking everything in that worthy endeavor.”

Much “of what has been written” about the war and “most of what was made into movies” focuses on “aberrations, ” Warr says. “These lurid stories are mostly made up; if incidents similar to them did occur, at least in my experience, they were the rare exceptions, not the rule.
“For the most part, those who experienced combat in Vietnam served their country and the South Vietnamese with honor and then returned home and went on with their lives. That’s the Vietnam War I choose to write about.”
The author’s website is nicholaswarr.com
—Marc Leepson



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