If I Die in a Combat Zone by Tim O’Brien was a fast yet welcoming read last night. I finished this book in just under three hours. He writes about his experience in Vietnam, thoughts of escaping to Europe and stories about fellow soldiers in Alpha Company from 1969 to 1970 which included supporting the area of the My Lai Massacre just one year after the atrocities.
O’Brien shares a brief story of growing up in the Midwest and life in Worthington Minnesota.
He shares his experiences joining the army. If I Die in a Combat Zone shares how fellow soldiers were not fully committed by 1969 to fighting a losing war.
He shares his relationship with a soldier “Erik” who also disagrees with the war and their experiences at Fort Lewis before begin shipped to Vietnam.
The bitter topic of desertion is addressed as O’Brien planned to dessert while on leave and make his way to Sweden. Yet after all his detailed research and staying in a hotel with an AWOL bag fully packed, he does not desert. Midwestern values played a strong influence.
If I Die in a Combat Zone reveals O’Brien served around My Lai, the site of the US Army My Lai Massacre, but as the book closes he writes about getting a job out of the company’s combat zone and ends up working for an officer investigating the massacre led by William Calley and Charlie Company of the same battalion O’Brien served just one year later.