The Battle for "Charlie" (Paperback)
The Battle for "Charlie" took place in 1972 during the Vietnam War after most American troops had been withdrawn. A battalion of South Vietnamese paratroopers made a stand reminiscent of the Spartans at Thermopylae in 480 BC. The heroic ARVN troops fought with a single American advisor-Major John J. Duffy, who directed critical American air support and the breakout. Thousands of North Vietnamese Army (NVA) troops invaded the South with overwhelming ground combat strength, supported by long-range artillery and tanks. They were part of a force ordered to conquer the South by cutting it in half. In the Central Highlands, the 11th Airborne Battalion was flown to a mountain pass designated "Charlie" and ordered to block the large NVA force at all costs. Two weeks of vicious close-range fighting ended with both sides suffering horrific casualties. The greatly outnumbered ARVN paratroopers fought until 90% of their comrades were dead or disabled. The enemy death toll exceeded 1,000 and caused a two-week delay in the invasion timetable. This setback in their strategy caused the overall invasion to fail and forced an NVA withdrawal. Victory was won at great cost. Only 37 of the 471 paratroopers escaped the encirclement. Major Duffy was wounded several times while controlling critical air support throughout the battle. Because he had the only ground-air radio, he was targeted by the NVA as he planned and led a daring escape through enemy lines and ambushes. Under fire at the jungle landing zone, he was the last man to board the rescue chopper after assisting and confirming all troops were safely aboard. Major Duffy received the Distinguished Service Cross for valor and for saving the lives of the survivors. The story is told with poems, eyewitness accounts, and transcripts of a tape-recording by eyewitness (evacuation helicopter co-pilot).
John J. Duffy, the poet, has published five poetry books and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. Warman, Peaceman, and Sageman document his war experience as a Special Forces Commander. The Bush Chronicles gives a rendition of the most important events in George W. Bush's first term as President. Chromosome 23, a story about mankind, was nomination for a Pulitzer Prize. John served as a Commander in Special Operations and is a highly decorated officer. He rose from Sergeant to Major and has received more than sixty awards and decorations, including the Distinguished Service Cross and eight Purple Hearts. After military service, John held senior positions in Publishing and Finance. He founded an investment firm which was sold to Ameritrade. He is retired in Santa Cruz, California and writes poetry. Two of his poems are inscribed on a monument dedicated to Forward Air Controllers in Colorado Springs, Colorado.