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Impact Zone

The Battle of the DMZ In Vietnam, 1967-1968

Jim Brown

Publication Year: 2004

A Vietnam War combat memoir from the perspective of an artilleryman.

Impact Zone documents Marine First Lieutenant James S. Brown's intense battle experiences, including those at Khe Sanh and Con Thien, throughout his thirteen months of service on the DMZ during 1967-68. This high-action account also reflects Brown's growing belief that the Vietnam War was mis-fought due to the unproductive political leadership of President Johnson and his administration. Brown's naiveté developed into hardening skepticism and cynicism as he faced the harsh realities of war, though he still managed to retain a sense of honor, pride, and patriotism for his country.

Impact Zone is a distinctive book on the Vietnam War because it is told from the perspective of an artilleryman, and the increasingly dangerous events gain momentum as they progress from one adventure to the next. Impact Zone is not only an important historical document of the Vietnam conflict, but also a moving record of the personal and emotional costs of war.


Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Cover Page

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p. 1-1

Title Page

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

List of Maps

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

When one steps back from a personal endeavor and attempts to sort through the results of whatever success has been achieved, there is often the realization that what has been accomplished came not only from the efforts of the individual but also from others who have in one way or another directly helped or influenced the outcome. ...

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1. Why

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pp. 1-6

The airliner banked to the west as it climbed away from the Memphis airport. Smiling stiffly, a stewardess demonstrated how to use an oxygen mask and blandly went about her performance. Just going through the motions was a way of life to much of America in that May of 1967. ...

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2. The Transition

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pp. 7-14

When I arrived at Camp Pendleton, a distinctly different world came into focus that contrasted sharply with what I had left behind. For the last month, I had been among friends and family, and the actuality of parts unknown had taken no form. Camp Pendleton was another story. ...

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3. Arrival

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pp. 15-28

Arrival in Da Nang on June 6, 1967, was chaotic. This was the largest city in the northern part of South Vietnam and the location of the Marine Corps headquarters. Most Marines entered and departed the country from here. Disembarking from the airliner, everyone shot off in fifty directions amid a flurry of hurried good-byes. ...

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4. The Rockpile

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pp. 29-46

This base differed distinctly from any that I had seen in ’Nam in that it had a wilder, rougher appearance. Here was the ever-present barbed wire, but the location, sitting as it did down in the valley, seemed vulnerable. Adding to this insecure feeling was the fact that the elephant grass grew much closer to the perimeter than it had at Camp Carroll. ...

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5. A Mountaintop Experience

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pp. 47-59

Early the next day the resupply chopper for the Rockpile dropped into our position to pick me up, and away I went to a world that had its own unique place in Vietnam. It would be days of relief from military formality while perched above the war below. ...

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6. The Ambushes

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pp. 60-81

The descent back to the valley occurred without mishap, and in no time I was thrust back into the other world. Gone was the constant breeze of the mountain; instead, the tropical heat of the valley enveloped me like a shroud. There were, however, those wonderful showers by the river, and I had my first real bath in forty days. ...

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7. Dong Ha

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pp. 82-96

The inevitable day arrived all too soon, and the battalion said its good-byes to the Rockpile. At least one good thing would come out of this move: we would be refurbishing our supplies and worn-out clothing in Dong Ha. ...

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8. Con Thien

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pp. 97-126

After a sleepless night of nervous preparation, we welcomed the day. The whole battalion had heard about the fight going on at our destination, and many wrote thoughtful letters home during the early morning hours. Along with the letter writing, rifles were cleaned to perfection and backpacks rearranged nervously in a subconscious effort of preparation. ...


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pp. 127-134

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9. Fix Bayonets

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pp. 135-150

I slept until around ten o’clock that night. Coming back into our world at C-2 Bridge that evening was a sobering experience. Reality flooded into my mind as sleep faded away. The bad dream was not over, and here I was. No question about it, I knew now what combat meant with its wounded and dying. ...

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10. Camp Carroll

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pp. 151-165

The return to Camp Carroll was like a reprieve from a death sentence. It has been said that people awaiting execution will often enter a trancelike state of acceptance as the hour of death approaches. We had lived with the real specter of death for so long at Con Thien that I think I must have been experiencing the mental condition of a condemned prisoner. ...

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11. R&R

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pp. 166-174

The day finally arrived for me to leave for R&R, a departure time that was actually two days earlier than the scheduled flight out of Da Nang. This early departure supposedly allowed plenty of time to catch one of the aircraft flying out of Dong Ha to Da Nang. ...

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12. Tet

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pp. 175-184

I arrived back in Vietnam with no happiness of homecoming. Tension now filled the air and pervaded the attitudes of everyone with whom I came in contact. Activity was definitely up, and Khe Sanh had become a priority of the high command. ...

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13. Ca Lu

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pp. 185-200

As the morning convoy left Camp Carroll for Ca Lu, the countryside looked considerably more springlike than the bleak monsoon winter we had been experiencing. Back up the road at Camp Carroll, perched on its bald hill, my surroundings had principally consisted of trenches, bunkers, and sandbags, with little vegetation. ...

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14. Khe Sanh

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pp. 201-216

Dawn broke with everyone in Charlie Battery hustling into activity. We really did not know what to expect, and cautious excitement filled the air. Charlie Battery’s macho Marine spirit was at a peak this morning, but I wondered just how many of the guys were actually experiencing queasy feelings beneath the confident bravado that abounded. ...

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15. LZ Torch

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pp. 217-242

The battery was scheduled to lift off at ten o’clock the following morning. Hoping there might be an early bird I could get my advance crew on, I took Gunny Mac and the three FDC personnel over to Charlie Med at seven in the morning. There we settled down next to a sandbagged bunker and found ourselves in the old hurry-up-and-wait mode to which we were so accustomed. ...

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16. The Repose

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pp. 243-246

On touchdown, medical personnel came scurrying up from all over the place and would not let me get off of the stretcher. Whisking me into the ship, they put me in a receiving room. From time to time I peeked out from my bandages to see what was happening and to keep my eyelids from sticking together. ...

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17. The Final Days

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pp. 247-260

The following day I hitched a ride on a C-130 to Dong Ha and after reporting in to Regiment was told that Charlie Battery was now back at Ca Lu. It turned out that the battery had stayed at LZ Torch until June 18, seven days after the NVA attack, and had then been airlifted directly back to Ca Lu rather than Khe Sanh. ...


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pp. 261-262

Glossary of Military Terms and Acronyms

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pp. 263-266


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pp. 267-277

E-ISBN-13: 9780817387099
E-ISBN-10: 0817387099
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817314026
Print-ISBN-10: 0817314024

Page Count: 291
Illustrations: Illus.
Publication Year: 2004