No Shining Armor
The Marines at War in Vietnam
An Oral History
Otto J. Lehrack
General Wallace M. Greene Award
"No more Vietnams!"
“No Shining Armor should join the front rank of Vietnam books. It describes real Marines in real combat, and it is a ringing tribute to the men who bore the burden of that war. Books about Americans in battle don't get any better than this.”
—Allan R. Millett, author of Semper Fidelis: The History of the United States Marine Corps
“Unique and intensely personal. This is an account told by the players at the mud level; honest, spontaneous, brutal, poignant. The great majority of Americans can only imagine—and not very well—the inhuman, devastating, brutal conditions of ground combat. These veterans now tell us in their own words, and it defies the imagination.”
—Col. John W. Ripley, hero of The Bridge at Dong Ha
“Lehrack places his battalion’s Vietnam experience in a larger national context-underscoring the irony, the tragedy, and a Marine’s shining-hearted pride. Many have tried to write about Vietnam, but few—if any—can match the power, the candor, and the understated eloquence of Marines telling their own stories in their own words.”
—Col. John G. Miller, author of The Bridge at Dong Ha
“This is war at the small unit level—squad, platoon, and company—told in a ‘no holds barred’ fashion, which means carnage and killing, chaos and intensity, heroism and terror. . . . A superb book.”
—Alexander S. Cochran, former editor of the journals Vietnam, World War II, and Military History
“Vivid personal accounts.”
—V. K. Fleming, Jr., author of Marine Corps in Crisis
“These interviews were clearly conducted with skill and sensitivity. They represent an impressive cross-section of ranks and positions. . . . That the Marines, more than any other service, understood what was happening in Vietnam and struggled against it gives the story of Third Battalion, Third Marines, a bitter poignancy.”
—John F. Guilmartin, Jr., author of America in Vietnam: The 15-Year WarSee fewer reviews...
A quarter century after the war in Vietnam, that battle cry brought a flag-waving nation to its feet and ignited the superpatriotism of the Gulf War era. But hard as we tried—with yellow ribbons and "We Support Our Troops" bumper stickers and Norman Schwarzkopf videos and Olympics-style homecoming celebrations—we couldn't seem to erase the disturbing memory of Vietnam.
Perhaps forgetting is not the answer. Perhaps the healing process begins with remembering. Painful, clear-headed remembering.
Even those who remember best, the men who fought in Vietnam, aren't anxious to recall their experiences—or recount them to an academician. But in Otto Lehrack they found a sympathetic audience. Lehrack is both a historian and a member of the Third Battalion, Third Marines. He fought alongside the men whose voices he recorded here. Into their accounts, Lehrack has woven a narrative that explains the events they describe and places them into both a historical and a political context.
It's a grunt's-eye view of the Vietnam War that emerges in No Shining Armor—the war as seen by the PFC's, sergeants, and platoon leaders in the rivers and jungles and trenches. It's the story of teenagers leading squads of men into the jungle on night missions, the story of boredom, confusion, and equipment shortages, of friends suddenly blown away, of disappointing homecomings. It's also the story of young men placed under unbearable strain and asked to do the impossible, who somehow stretched to meet the demands placed upon them, and the story of the friendships they forged in combat—friendships deeper than any these men would be able to form later in civilian life.