THE MAILMAN WENT UA (A VIETNAM MEMOIR)

David,

I am not in the habit of giving other writers compliments. But I read your book and it knocked me out. Let me make something clear before I tell you what I want to tell you. I was 1-A in L A when they were drafting a piece of wood if it had a bug on it. I did my damndest to get out of it and finally managed to do so—not because I was against the war. I had no political knowledge, leanings or feelings at all. I just didn’t want anyone or anything (including the military) to interfere with my fucking unconscious life. I didn’t read newspapers or watch TV. I didn’t give a damn about anything or anybody.


My aunt used to say, “Jack don’t shit in your own back yard,” so I hitched across the country and spent my shitting years in SF stoned out on LSD. I was one of those college kids, went at it piecemeal (SF State College), would pop pills to help memorize textbooks and get me through exams. I hardly ever showed up in class because I was busy banging around my “Dogpatch” the Haight/Ashbury, Golden Gate Park, North Beach and the Tenderloin looking to get laid and wheeling a yellow cab through the streets of SF. My only connection with the war was driving Army guys north to get shipped out and taking them back after. They were pink faced and laughing and talking on the way over and weren’t talking on the way back. No more laughing and their fucking faces weren’t pink any more.

Let me put it this way. I didn’t want to know what was going on over there and right up until I read your book the other day I resisted any intimate knowledge or awareness of it. Unless I could be there 100 percent, I didn’t want to know, and any movies I saw, or books I looked at only seemed to deal with pieces. You took me there 100 percent and I needed to go there because there was a piece missing in the bizarre puzzle of my life that needed to be put in place. I wasn’t and am not ashamed that I didn’t go. In fact, I connived like hell to keep out of it. Ultimately, whatever the reasons I give, I believe that it was pure instinct and intuition that kept me out of it. Although I’m not ashamed of it, I sure as hell am guilty about it because I know that other guys, some of whom were probably less fitted for it than me, took my place and paid the price, whether they survived, or not. I can be absolutely sure of one thing. At least one guy did that.

Enough about me. Your book brings it all home. You took me along and allowed me to taste the tastes, smell the smells, hear the sounds, feel the beyond oppressive heat, rain drops the size of golfballs, the bugs, the “Joe-two- steps”—the percussion of grenades and RPGs— the ripping apart of flesh and bone, the reality, the unreality, the fear, the rage, day and night existence on the edge, looking out beyond the perimeter and not seeing anything, or seeing too much, the loneliness, the hopelessness when the mail didn't come, the helplessness, the inhumanity, the humanity, the enhancement of the trivial, the vulnerable eggshell existence—the violence among friends and assholes, the slights, the unforgotten, (forgiven and unforgiven) insults, the wry humor, anger and disgust—it’s all there.

Most of all, you bring home the fragility of survival over there and the absolute unlikelihood of making it through. “Your brain never gets a break,” you said. As a reader, I was overwhelmed when you had been there a day, a few weeks, or months and how slow and impossible it seemed to have a dozen or so months to go. I don’t believe for one second that you were just lucky. Nor do I believe that some God was laying a cosmic hand on your shoulder. You seemed to have a built in guidance system that moved you away from the hooch out to the pogues protecting the perimeter, where you didn’t have to be, except your own mind told you that it was necessary that you be there and you went there.

It was no overseer who taught you about the segmentation that you relied on so much—and how that segmentation arose from your own mind to help you deal with the chaos and insanity around you. Others call that intuition or “inner-tuition”. Then there is that chip on the shoulder attitude— that “other side of the tracks” mentality that seemed so much to come into play—and so crucial to survival.

Your book gives the reader the unadulterated grim reality and feeling of war and I wish every soul sucking American would read it. If anything is ever going to change, we all need to know it, and know it as thoroughly as you tell it. We need to feel it, look at our children and grandchildren, get fucking guilty about it and see our part in it, even if we weren’t there.


Wars are won or lost. In the long run, that may not matter a fucking fig. But thanks to the moral authority and courage you exhibited one day out there, a little girl was given a moment of humane attention that allowed her innocent psyche to survive a breaking point that no child anywhere should ever have to face, or bear. The fact that children were killed at other times in other situations does not diminish the significance of that selfless act.

You wrote something to the effect that you didn’t want this book to be about you. I don’t get your reasoning there. The soul of this book— its gravitas, comes from the mind, eyes, heart and pen of David Mulldune—no other. If you
weren’t there personally, or were there and didn’t tell it, how would anyone know?

Your presence as a leader among the men was obviously infectious and no doubt gave them that little extra that helped many of them survive and endure. I realize that is a two way street and you may not like this, but it seems to me that you led what must have appeared to the other men, as a charmed existence— you seemed to possess a special talent or extraordinary extra sense that warded off imminent disaster—and you were constantly doing something outrageous and getting away with it. So if you could do that for yourself, then they had to feel that they were under that spell as well. They rub your head or hang with you and glean some good luck too. The bonding between you guys was as bizarre as it was incredible, like Gary exposing you to the clap just to keep you around. He knew how important it was for you to be there with him.

When you met that Corporal again at El Toro who had earlier fucked with you and you had the prick doing push-ups, I nearly fell out of the damned chair laughing.

Great work David and you don’t have to make excuses for the language to anybody. Like you said, your writing is “more like grenades” which is as natural for you as walking and talking. You leave memorable pictures in the reader’s mind with your direct and honest writing style and your verbal grenades are the genuine article. I particularly like the way you handle time. It flows naturally from the day you leave until you return. There is not one extraneous word or line in your book and you should take pride in your achievement. The most remarkable thing is, you did return, and the other remarkable thing is you wrote this excellent book.

You are your own grandpa, my friend, and I hope you keep on surviving and give even more.

Thank you so much,

Jack Flynn


5.0 out of 5 stars, please read this book, by wendy m.w.

Kudos to this intelligent man for writing his memoir in his own, beautiful words. I do not approve of the introductions assuming the reader is either going to judge, or be unable to handle the upsetting truth as the author writes it. If you can't hear truth, how can you live truthfully? This book is a spirit-lifting story about the good, bad and ultimate truth of the life of a soldier who fought in Vietnam. I'm grateful to have read it, and appreciate every sentiment the author shares.

E-mail from Rick Droz, Combat Marine Vietnam ’68-‘69

I’ve never read a book like it on Vietnam. I think it’s raw and honest. I appreciate the courage it took to write it and for an untrained writer, the length of time and determination it took to get it out. Hard shit, man – and you survived – not just survived but live.

I relate to everything you put into the book. We had different experiences, but what you wrote is something that so closely relates to me that I couldn’t put the book down. I thought I was reading my own story. It’s a universal story, too. To compare your work with O’Brian’s (and some others) is like comparing apples to oranges. Tim is a trained writer who has made a living off his experience in Vietnam. Not to take anything away from that. There is no doubt he does fine work. I like your comparison to chess pieces and hand grenades. No one that I have read has tried to put the reader in the mind of a 19-year-old Marine in combat except you. 19-year-old Marines with automatic weapons (or without weapons) are scary – even if they are on your side. Your book was scary. Tim makes up situations and stories to express his emotions, this book came from you, your heart, and that took balls. I proudly put it onto my shelf with the others.

I do have some criticisms that I hope you take in good spirit. Reading it was like stepping onto a speeding train – it was one situation right after another (not unlike it was when being there, not unlike incoming) and for a reader I felt I needed a break. I just couldn’t take it all in and process it before I was off again. I also got confused and felt I needed some additional information and would have had an easier time “being there” with you if it were presented in the form as if you had written it as a journal – entries as times and dates, how short were you and where were we in your tour? That would have given me a better sense of when and where you were in time and space – how things accumulated. I feel it would have also reminded the reader this was coming from the heart and mind of a 19-year-old Marine who was in the field. I also was hoping you would slow down a bit and share more of your personal feelings or confusion about those feelings with me.
You did a bit but I was hoping for more and I feel your sharing would have given the reader a better idea about what was going through your head the next time you got into the shit. But that’s me. The most important thing to me is that you did it and that it’s out there. Well done.  

5.0 out of 5 stars,Real war,real feelings, by Stephanie Estes
What a great telling of war and of what we all should know about war. Fast read, very good book. Everyone should read this book.

5.0 out of 5 stars, Experience through a book, by Mary A. McFall (REAL NAME)

Having friends and loved ones who have experienced Viet Nam, and really don't care to talk about it, I found this book to be one of the very
best of several I've read at providing a glimpse. You will not be able to put it down because you are, a little bit, there, seeing things through David's eyes, feeling shock, horror, frustration, fascination, confusion, and "Why?". This is an awesome book in its ability to not just tell a story, but to provide an experience. Though most of us will not experience anything like David did (and does in the aftermath), we know people who did. After reading this book, likely we will know them better. That was my objective. Of course now, as in rare books of exception, I feel I know David as a person. A friend. Someone I went to high school with. A brother or a cousin. Someone I know and is now in my family. Awesome book.

5.0 out of 5 stars, One of the better ones in this genre, by Michael B.

I've read a bunch of eBooks on the Vietnam War, some crappy, some very good. "The Mailman went UA" falls in the latter category. I found it to be well
written and edited, which I can't say about some of the eBooks I've read. What made this one intriguing for me was that the author wrote it from the perspective of the 18 year-old kid that he was when he enlisted, rather than from a filtered, more mature perspective of the man he is now. The language, attitude, bravado, fear, anger, loathing, and barely controlled rage towards the end, are right from the mouth, heart, mind and soul of this teenaged warrior. I'm glad he survived and was able to come to terms with his PTSD and go on to lead a normal, successful life. I'm glad he wrote his story, too. Check it out.

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