Eagle Days- Reviewed by Jon Aytes November 2020
Eagle Days by Don Griffis is worth the read because it is a first-person memoir of his experience in Vietnam. A recent Ken Burns PBS documentary was a superbly told story from the perspective of scores of witnesses and those who fought there. The book Eagle Days tells a little more about the Marines who led and fought in the Force Logistics Command in Vietnam. The book’s thesis is that of just plain leadership. We know that every Marine is a leader and may be called on to perform duties as a rifle platoon commander at any time.
In the book Eagle Days, we have a superbly told tale by Don Griffis’ experience as a Marine who served both as a lawyer and a rifle platoon commander during June 1968-69. The lawyers in the book are 25-26 years old, got commissioned in OCS, followed by six months of TBS. They are as well-prepared as any other Marine Corps officers and eager to engage. Though assigned as legal officers, when their base is attacked, they went out in the evenings on patrol. Had they joined in the Air Force, Navy or Army after law school they would only have to participate in a short training period to be an officer & a gentleman – and not served in the same capacity as these men. Instead Don and his cohort chose a harder path. They joined the Corps because they wanted to serve, lead and fight.
The book looks at Vietnam from their unique perspective of handling legal cases during the day & patrolling in the evenings – something done only in the Marine Corps. This is an interesting and intensely personal story told by those who to this day look back and know that being a Marine is an integral part of who they are years later. Each of the men in the story willingly and eagerly served at this tough juncture in our history. Each one has also fundamentally changed by it, and in some cases, carry the effects of Agent Orange with them. Recent experience in Iraq and Afghanistan has seen the use of provisional rifle companies with a variety of Marines from different MOSs utilized in a similar capacity as these men were in this personal story from Vietnam. This story lends more credence to the adage “History may not repeat itself but is sure does rhyme”.
You will read about and be part of his yearlong tour while he experiences the highs and lows that go with a combat tour. As you read this compelling story, you are going to be part of a tight group of Marines and be part of their family. There are personalities that will remind you of people you served with. These are Marines who wore the same cloth as we do today and always strove to keep true to our Corps. To this day, there is a bond between these Marines that endures. They continue to keep in touch through reunions, phone calls, and participation in children’s/grandchildren’s weddings.
This book will add to the reader’s knowledge of our history told from an engaging and meaningful first-person perspective. Reading this book one time will whet your appetite and the second time through will add to the experience. So, do this: Tip a couple of fingers of good Scotch into a glass, and raise it to these Marines while you sit back and savor this book. These warriors were ferocious both in court and on the battlefield and tell an important part of our heritage. It tells a story of how precious life is, and how not all wounds may come from incoming rounds. The book Eagle Days is highly recommended to military scholars and history aficionados who desire to gain more knowledge on their profession.
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