THE MAILMAN WENT UA (A VIETNAM MEMOIR)

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Vietnam Veterans of America review by David Willson

David Mulldune arrived in Vietnam May 1968, a Marine who had just missed the Tet Offensive. Mulldune, a high school dropout in trouble with the law, has written The Mailman Went UA: A Vietnam Memoir (295 pgs., $16.95 paperback, $2.99 Kindle, Nook), a powerful personal story of what many scholars call the worst year of the Vietnam War.

President Nixon’s strategy of Vietnamization was mostly viewed with contempt by those who thought that after the 1968 Tet Offensive the United States was winning the war.  Mulldune turned nineteen in Vietnam during his May 1968 to June 1969 tour of duty, dealing with “a steady round of patrols, ambushes, sniper attacks,” as Professor Michael H. Hunt succinctly notes in the book’s Foreword.

This down and dirty memoir rates up there at the top with Ernest Spencer’s Welcome to Vietnam, Macho Man, and Karl Marlantes’ novel, Matterhorn, for bald honesty and hard-hitting language and description of the unspeakable things that happen in war. Mulldune served first as a mortarman with the 27th Marines, working with 60 MM mortars and later with the 7th Marines, first as a grunt and then with mortars again. He also spent time riding shotgun for supply convoys through Haiphong Pass and took part in Operation Allenbrook.

This memoir has it all: friendly fire, resentment toward pogues (rear echelon troops,) Black Power, drug use, atrocities on both sides, baby-san killings, Russian techs working for the VC, snakes of all sizes and kinds, leeches, centipedes, and mosquitoes, the clap, the Black Syph, decapitation by helicopter blade, dogs and dog handlers, tunnel rats, ice cream, movies (The Planet of the Apes) renegade Marines fighting with the VC, fraggings, Dear John letters, Louisiana Hot Sauce, C-rats, the Geneva Convention, booby-trapped kids, R&R, showers, Agent Orange, Bobby Kennedy, Chris Noel, Barry Sadler, Charles Robb, and John Wayne, who gets several mentions.

The Mailman Went UA has all of the above and more, and is chockablock with action, fighting of all kinds and lots of firepower. If you have the time to read only one Marine Corps grunt memoir dealing with the teenagers who fought in Vietnam, I’d recommend this one. It held my attention throughout even though I’ve read dozens of Vietnam War memoirs.

This one has a vigor and immediacy that often astonished me. How Mulldune came up with the wealth of physical detail on every page after so many decades is beyond me, but he never overreaches or tests believability. David Mulldune has done great things in this book by finding his 19-year-old Marine Corps voice and maintaining it throughout with no lapses.


Military Writers Society of America review by Bob Flournoy

There are hundreds of Vietnam memoirs in publication, but few as brutally honest, and raw as The Mailman Went UA. The coarse language will be offensive to those ears that left such language behind them in Vietnam. It will be devastating, unreadable to those who did not serve. The actions remembered here, of young men in combat, will seem appalling after all these years, to those who participated. They were. But it is what it is, and it is all true. Mr. Mulldune has absolutely told it like it was; to be a 19 year old Marine in America's dirtiest war.

While it makes one shudder at times, the author's writing courage is undeniable. He admits to having no aspirations for literary greatness, just the bold explosive facts of how it was. It is hoped that this book gives him some release, some closure, and a point from which to go forward. For every self-proclaimed Vietnam vet you meet, many are not at all. For everyone that did serve in Vietnam, only 1 in 7 saw daily in the dirt combat. This book is for that small percentage that walked this walk, to be sure. But, it is also for those that wear their service on their sleeves, but did not have the misfortune to walk point. Now they can know.


5.0 out of 5 stars, Finally, an experiential war memoir, by Paul C. Heisner

David W Mulldune had problems in his childhood. He was lost and never fit in anywhere. Directionless. So, at the age of 18,with nowhere else to go, he decides to join the US Marines. It was 1967. The Vietnam War was in full bloom. To find his life's compass, he's exposed to a landscape that few have seen, few are prepared for, and maybe no one should ever have to see. Especially at his tender age.

He thought he was ready. Thought he was a man. His boot camp DIs, in their sadistic torture tried their best to prepare him for it. But these baby-faced children might never be totally prepared for what was over the hill - the hill away from the UA hill.

Many veterans refuse to discuss their experiences, leaving us the poorer for it. Leaving us enthralled by bloodless John Wayne stormings of enemy positions with honor and duty. Leaving us susceptible to the jingoistic politicians. But thankfully for us, Mulldune is different. Almost therapeutically he excised his ghosts and put them down on paper for us.

Everything is here, from his troubled early days, to his honest portrayal of life as a recruit, through to his 13 months in Vietnam and (obviously) his trip back to the World in the Freedom Bird.

This book is written not as an academic project. Nor as a scholarly work. Those bloodless forms are populated with characters who never leave the page. Instead, Mulldune actually takes his reader along with him on his exploits. You feel the fear and comprehension of the recruits in boot camp as they try to please their designed to be unhappy DIs. And fear the punishment when they ultimately fail. The characters in this book ultimately leave the page and come to live in your mind.

You feel how life for the soldier is reduced to the most basic elements: death (avoiding it for yourself and dealing with it in others), time (such an important issue that your comrades are known barely for their names, but more for how close they are to being "short"), gambling (a way to make extra money and maybe control the fates in charge of your continued existence), and the pursuit of comforts civilians take for granted. You also understand how the soldier rebels against these conditions by with a little beer, boom-boom, smoking, and physically striking out against your fellows and superiors - especially pogues (or REMFs).

If you've never been in combat or the military, this book is a great way to vicariously experience the hardships of our fighting men. If you know somebody who's been in combat, this book would be a great introduction to get a glimpse inside their world. And finally, if you have been in combat, this book would be a great way to relive those younger days in detail.

One thing to be aware of though is that, since this book is written from the perspective of being the author's companion, there is some unfamiliar jargon. But this book has a glossary you might need to refer to occasionally.

Once I started reading the book, I couldn't put it down. I'm forever grateful to Mr. Mulldune for laying out his service in a way we could experience it with him. That is so rare in war memoirs. I would highly suggest it.


4.0 out of 5 stars, Gritty and real, by K. Cook (REAL NAME) (East Coast Canada) 

I enjoyed this very human look into the Vietnam War from the perspective of a regular guy... Unvarnished and raw, - no politically correct veneer. I admire the courage it took, publishing it this way.


3.0 out of 5 stars, WELCOME HOME, by James Muirhead

As a VIET VET (ARMY INFANTRY) I found the book to be okay and when it started to drag out I remembered my experiences in the Jungle of the Central Highlands for 7 months the rest in and out of hospitals. Many were similar to Mr. MULLDUNE, but We all had Our OWN that were very different. What I would like to say is, WELCOME HOME.

MY RESPONSE TO JAMES MUIRHEAD: Thank you, James, and welcome home to you, veteran brother. David W. Mulldune


5.0 out of 5 stars, Great story, by Brian Cordell

Enjoyed reading this book, no holds barred, humor, serious and just a good read, what every one went through over there and what they came back to defies logic. I have great respect for all of them.


5.0 out of 5 stars, A Civvie's review of The Mailman Went UA, by Carolyn Callow Elkins

The Mailman Went UA is one of the most realistic memoirs I've read. If you're shy about language and harshness of war, this book is not for you. But if you want to understand the realities of a combat Corpsman or Soldier, this is a must read.


I was too young to remember anything about the Vietnam war, and growing up in another country, without knowing much about those who have fought and given so much for ours and others' freedoms, David Mulldune's book made me feel like I was there.

This is not just David's story. This is the story of the daily life and death situations, to maintain one's humanity when struggling to survive the hard inhumanities of war whether in the jungle of Vietnam or the deserts in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is every combat warrior.

This is not Hollywood, this is real. David's memoir is not glamorous, the realities are harsh, yet mixed with humor which you can't help but laugh along with. This is an incredible and honest book that anyone could and should read. David Mulldune's book makes us look at the realities of war, and helps the readers, especially those of us who have never had to experience it to understand what our troops deal with, how they deal with it and why. "Duckie" C. Elkins


5.0 out of 5 stars, outstanding read, by nibs

This book presents a clear and vivid picture of the grunt in the field in Viet Nam. I truly recommend it.


5.0 out of 5 stars, Felt I was right there with him, by Ron Garst

I thought the author painted a very realistic portrait of his 13 months. I enjoyed reading every word and am grateful for the greater understanding. A widowed wife of a Vietnam Vet, Army, Air Cav, '69 - '71


5.0 out of 5 stars, A very real experience......,by W.T. White (REAL NAME) (Nashville, Tennessee) 

Very intensive read. Never having served as a grunt rather flying in support of same, the message here is like so many heard before and is worth your time to consume....


5.0 out of 5 stars, The Mailman Went UA, by Pastor P.C. Willis, Sr., Dr. Phil, Airman/Fighter Pilot


As a Viet Nam Vet, I have what my wife states is Guilt that I am still living while others did not make it! It is a good read to be taken to a place in someone's memory of their young life and participate with them in the activities that you only heard about.


Letter from Melena B.

Wow! Thanks for sharing your story with me and the rest of the world. I was totally captivated by your candid account of your Vietnam experience. I could not put the book down. My only regret was that I had not read the book sooner. Up until reading your book I would never say that I was antiwar. Now I’m rethinking that. God most definitely has a plan for you. You needed to share your story so that others could learn and hopefully not repeat our mistakes from the past. 


5.0 out of 5 stars, AMAZING, by Kayla

What an amazing and heart felt book. Read the whole thing in 2 days. Recommended for anyone who loves war stories.


5.0 out of 5 stars, Gutsy and visceral, by Muttley

A no holds barred account of a young man's terrifying journey from a wild youth to tough combat Marine in Vietnam. Written in a first hand style and language common to soldiers everywhere and which must have brought back so many painful emotions for the author. Highly recommended for anyone interested in what these young men went through and what must have influenced their lives forever.


5.0 out of 5 stars, Couldn't put it down!, by Erica Szegda

This is a great book for anyone trying to get some idea of what a combat Veteran has gone through. I read it in two nights!!


4.0 out of 5 stars, A good read!, by Pops 1949

It was a pretty good book written by an In-country Vietnam vet, who describes the events more accurately than most authors I have read. Usually the general context of any book written about someone’s war experience has the general concept of a book on " How I won the war!" or "they should have listened to me and we would have won"! This author didn't! That's why I liked it! Pops 1949, HM3/USN/Ret, 1st MarDIV/RVN


4.0 out of 5 stars, Good book, by Glenn

Easy to read. Author has good, easy way of describing events and places. Reminds me of my Marine Corps days. Thanks


4.0 out of 5 stars, The Mailman Went UA, by Calvin Acord

This book was a good read. All I can say is that I am glad I joined the Navy in 1963 and not the Marine Corp! All those brave young men lost their lives for essentially nothing!


4.0 out of 5 stars, A good read, by Robert N. Cook (Fulton, NY) (REAL NAME)   

Lots of good detail, feels like your there! The book was well written but his relations with his brothers at arms seemed a little thin.


2.0 out of 5 stars, Didn't care for, by Doc "djs" (Columbus, MS)

There was not really a "story line" to the book, just lots of factoids. Just didn't appeal to me but I'm sure lots of other folks will like it.


5.0 out of 5 stars, Very real. Hard to put this book down. Two thumbs up!, by Roy Brown   

My compliments to the author. He gives a peek at his soul and it shows us he still carries the pain and horrors of the war to this day. I will read this book again in a few months.


4.0 out of 5 stars, Good - by Tom Moore

As usual when I enjoy a memoir of Vietnam War - written by an enlisted man, someone with a regular guy sort of view of the world , but with some gift of observation and story telling. Believable, taut, emotional.

5.0 out of 5 stars, Excellent Contribution to the Historical Record, by Walter Thomson Pimbley

First, the book's well written. The author yanks you along, and the reader's eager to turn every page. You'll burn through it. The way he compresses time by throwing down his segmented memories - it's a gripping style.

About the content. This reviewer's never worn a uniform, never seen combat. Read a lot of combat memoirs from many wars, though. And read Vietnam Vet James Webb's novels. This memoir has the feel of FIELDS OF FIRE, but MAILMAN WENT UA is more immediate and real than that excellent novel. It's believable.

Believable in the way that that Oliver Stone is not, that John Kerry's testimony was not. It's real soldiers fighting a vicious enemy in an impoverished, hostile land - fenced about with political restraints and military red tape. Young men trying to cling to sanity and morality, and sometimes failing.

The Vets who wrote the 1-star reviews have some points. It's not what a Marine wants to read about the Corps, some of the bits. A few of them judged it after putting it down in disgust, half read. Read the whole thing, though - it doesn't dishonor the Marines. The author shows how Marine training got him through, and we see how effective the Marines were in every job they were assigned and allowed to complete.

The book's not political, but I am. If Nixon were elected in 1960, this never would have happened. Ike got us out of a similar mess in Korea by promising Stalin he'd nuke if Mao didn't come to the table. Ike coined the term "quagmire" about Vietnam - land wars in Asia are stupid, and nobody knew that better than Ike. Ike sent in advisors to train and coach the ARVN, and that and our military aid would have been enough to keep Saigon out of the Communist camp. (Mulldune shows us poorly trained ARVN, then he shows us the amazing ARVN Rangers taking a hill. He also shows us elite Korean forces. The ARVN Rangers and the ROK forces got the training Ike set up.)

JFK put in Americans and deemphasized ARVN training. MacNamara and "The Most Idealistic War Ever Fought." Then JFK greenlighted a coup against the Diem government - idiocy. LBJ's covert escalation.

Polarizing, unfair draft rules. A huge rear echelon that didn't relieve the combat marines and soldiers enough. Green, inexperienced lieutenants from Annapolis and West Point thrown into small unit field command again and again - couldn't they have spent a month first as a private in a different unit? In the interest of their own survival, if nothing else.

Nixon set about getting us out - bombing the Ho Chi Minh Trail and Hanoi. Took a while - Ike would have done it faster. But it worked. Then Congressional Dems threw victory away by reneging on our commitments to Saigon. Disgrace.

This memoir doesn't show that big political picture, just the micro-result of the Marine in the field. In the field, wishing he weren't. It's an important read.

3.0 out of 5 stars, Use of language, by Roger Holle

I enjoyed the book other than the use of the F word so much. I'm not a prude by any means but the use of that work seemed to be excessive.    




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