Invisible Enemies: Life on the Front Lines of a Modern Vietnam

It isn’t a secret that military veterans tend to be conservative and vote Republican. In fact, Gallup reports that veterans are more likely to be Republican than are those of comparable ages who are not veterans. The reason I mention this is because Brian Welch’s memoir takes readers through Army boot camp to Iraq for two deployments, and Welch is brutally honest with his conservative views—a fresh perspective that most who serve in the U.S. military share but is missing from many films about war where the focus is usually on heroism, debauchery or the horrors of war. In fact, most films seem to be more concerned with political correctness than reality. But Term of Service (click link to visit Amazon and buy this book) avoids Hollywood hype and serves us combat as it really is.

Term of Service Cover

When we first meet the author in boot camp, he’s eager to fight for his country, but that eagerness fades when confronted by an elusive enemy that is seldom seen. For instance, unseen insurgents planting roadside bombs; invisible snipers shooting from a distance, or terrorists who become human bombs that infiltrate our lines and blow themselves up among U.S. Troops. The type of combat our troops faced in World War I, World War II and Korea seems to be a thing of the past. Instead of armies clashing with armies, today our troops often fight an invisible enemy.

This modern form of warfare grinds our troops down just like it did to combat vets in Vietnam where I fought decades earlier.  I think Welch’s honesty is refreshing, and anyone who wants to experience the tension of combat—the endless waiting not knowing what will happen next—and what it does to most of the troops, should read this book. War takes boys, runs them through the blades of a blender and when they come out, they are often cut and bruised physically and mentally.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His second novel is the award winning love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t do while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

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He served with love, courage and honor – a review of “He Wrote Her Every Day”

He Wrote Her Every Day by Gail Lindenberg is a true story that warms the heart. Barely married a year, Jim leaves his young wife, the love of his life, and ends up fighting in Europe during the final months of World War II. He experiences a lot of combat and is awarded a Silver Star when he risks his life leading a charge against a Nazi machine gun position.

jwh-staff-sargeant-1945James (Jim) William Hendrickson, Jr.

His brother Bill is in a prisoner of war camp somewhere in Germany, and Jim dreams of being the one who liberates him. You will need to read the book to find out what happened to Bill.

Jim also seldom missed a day to write a letter or add to one he was working on. Between being in the field chasing the enemy, on guard duty and/or in combat, he always finds time to write even when everyone else is trying to sleep—even when he is in a filthy, cramped foxhole in freezing winter weather.

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somewhere in Germany 1944

I’ve never read a seamless story that grounded me in both the home front and a combat zone like this one did—especially after the war and the long months of waiting in Germany when Jim is anxious to return home but there is one delay after another. I kept turning the pages waiting for that moment when Jim finally made it back home to Arizona, and the conclusion brought a big smile to my face as I remembered the moment when I arrived home from another war.

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Irene (Butch) – Jim’s wife and the love of his life

The author sent me a copy of the paperback for my honest review, and don’t miss the rest of the photos you will discover at He Wroter Her Every Day.com. This is a story that was lovingly researched and written by one of his daughters—a wonderful story that immortalizes a father who served his country with courage and honor.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His second novel is the award winning love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t do while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

Promo Image with Cover Awards

This is a love story that might cost the lovers everything—even their lives.

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Saving Art Treasures from the Nasty Nazis

I listened to the abridged audio version of The Monuments Men and learned something I didn’t know about World War II—something that has only happened once in history where a dedicated military team was organized [thanks to President F. D. Roosevelt] by the allies in World War II to save as much of the art looted by the Nazis as possible.

I first heard of The Monuments Men at the theater during all those [soon-to-appear] movie trailers before you get to watch the film you paid to see. Because I usually see a film at the local theater at least once a week, I’ve seen The Monuments Men trailer a number of times, and I admit that I’m eager to see the film.

Overview lifted from Barnes and Noble

“At the same time Adolf Hitler was attempting to take over the western world, his armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. The Fuehrer had begun cataloguing the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: ‘degenerate’ works he despised.

“In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Monuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture. Focusing on the eleven-month period between D-Day and V-E Day, this fascinating account follows six Monuments Men and their impossible mission to save the world’s great art from the Nazis.” (Barnes and Noble: Overview)

The film is scheduled to release February 7, 2014. Thanks to Costco—where I bought the audio book—I ended up listening to the book first. As I was listening, I thought I’d be ready to recognize when Hollywood’s version drifted from the facts—but maybe not. In case you didn’t know, Hollywood’s famous for revising history and true stories.

When I bought the CD’s at Costco, I had no idea it was an abridged version only 7.5 hours long. I usually avoid abridged versions but the fact that it was abridged wasn’t printed anywhere I could easily find. Publishers must know this and they are getting tricky just like Monsanto wants to hide the fact that the food we eat might be genetically modified by them. (Truth-Out.org)

I wanted to know how much I may have missed and discovered that audiobooks usually run 150-160 words per minute, the range people comfortably hear and vocalize words. I then dragged a few hardcover books off the bookshelf and came up with about 400 words a page. That means the 512 page Monuments Men hardcover probably has at least 205,000 words—equal to about 21 hours for an audio book.

Wow, that was a lot of story to miss out on, and I was disappointed.

But I did listen to the 7.5 hours and still enjoyed the story. The only full length audio version I found was sold by Barnes & Noble.

I guess it depends on what you want. If you’re willing to settle for the abridged audio version and miss two-thirds of the story, it’s probably worth the cost.

The full-length audio version at Barnes & Noble.com was listed at $19.08 when I checked (with a 17% price reduction from the original $22.99). I checked Amazon and they’re asking $6.89 for the Kindle; $22.37 for the Hardcover and $9.85 for the paperback.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

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Q & A with Gail Lindenberg, the author of “He Wrote Her Every Day”

1. Q:  What made you decide to write a war novel?

A:  It certainly wasn’t my original plan.  When I retired from teaching, I had no intention of writing anything.  But when my mother handed me those letters, the book took shape quickly.  I still feel as though my father is the real author of the book. It’s as though he stood over my shoulder the entire time.

2. Q:  Is this a novel?  You never refer to it as such.

A:  I call it a “book” because it defies easy categorization.  The genre would have to be “historical novel,” and yet that doesn’t quite work for me either.  Dad’s letters are primary witness accounts of events as they happened.  My mother’s interviews are her own memories, filtered by time and my reporting of what she said.  The back-story of the war experiences is my fictional version of what I read in the letters and remember from my father’s stories. 

3. Q:  Did you have any other books to serve as a model for your writing?

A:  Yes, but they were not war novels. I have never been interested in reading books about war time and my lack of depth in this area was a major weakness when I began.  Margaret Atwood wrote a book called ALIAS GRACE.  It is historical fiction and tells the story of a woman by using articles and public records about her.  Her book made me realize that this book of Dad’s would actually work as a genre of literature. I was encouraged by her pattern of including original documents, her own research, and a back-story that, while it might not have happened, was entirely plausible.  Just because it didn’t happen exactly as written does not mean that it isn’t true.


Staff Sergeant James William Hendrickson, Jr. 1945
Staff Sergeant James William Hendrickson, Jr. 1945

4. Q:  How long did it take you to complete the book?

A:  I started scanning the letters at Christmas time in 2010.  I read the letters as I scanned, and the idea for the story took root over the next few months..  I began the actual writing four months later.  My goal was to complete the book in time for my Mother’s ninetieth birthday on December 8, 2012.  Then I received a diagnosis of cancer.  Surgery, chemo, and radiation treatment began in August of 2012.  I printed a “rough draft” which was a hard-cover family version.  Only twenty copies came off the press.  Once I had recovered my faculties, such as they are, post chemo, I edited the book with the help of my Writer’s Workshop group.  The book has been up on Amazon as a Trade Paperback and e-version since September of 2013.

5. Q:  Your mother is a character in the book. What was your mother’s reaction to the story?

A:  She says she feels like quite the celebrity.  The book has received a very positive response, and she has heard from people from her home town as well as relatives and friends.  She did say that she thought I was too hard on Grandma Hendrickson.  And every time she reads a section through again, we have a conversation about that during our phone time. I still phone her every Saturday morning.  She always tells me that my father would be very proud to read it…and we both laugh.  We can see him shaking his head to think that his letters would be available to the world to read.

6. Q:  How do you think your father would react to the book?

A:  I can only hope that he would feel like it was a true depiction of who he was and who the men were who fought alongside him.  Dad’s life was one of sacrifice for others.  I think this is true of most men who serve their country, but especially so for the boys who fought in World War II out of conviction for a cause and a sense of duty.  Dad wanted to bring his brother back from PW camp.  He wanted to right a wrong.  He lived his life by those convictions.

7. Q:  Would you characterize this book as a romance more than a war novel?

A:  I never saw it as a romance.  These were just my parents.  It was only after reading it aloud, six pages at a time, to my editing group that I had any sense at all that it would be perceived as such.  One woman said, “Gail, I have fallen in love with your father.” 

I do think that the history piece and the war story he tells might fall into the category of edging on being anti-war.  But I have a strong notion that most men who go to war would like to be certain that their children will not have to.  Dad’s idea was that this would be the war to end all wars. 

The answer to your question should probably be that the book will be seen by the reader as they wish to view it.  There are two history teachers I know of who are using the web site for the book with lesson plans to provide a research source for studies of WWII.  And there are women who read it just to enjoy the story line provided by the strong relationship my parents were able to forge in war time.

Camp Roberts and Burbank visits 'Jim's in there somewhere'

Camp Roberts, Burbank, California

8. Q:  The link to your web site is included as a section in the book.  Why is that?

A:  When I wrote the first version, I scanned all the letters, pictures, etc. and copied them to a thumb drive for my family.  As I was editing the final book, I realized that the graphics would make the book far too expensive for printing.  Also, folks who read it before publication were, for the most part, interested in the letters.  So I decided to set up a web site where people could go and find every letter, document, and photograph Mom saved from those two years of war time.  HeWroteHerEveryDay.com is up and running for those who are interested.

9. Q:  What kind of response have you gotten from people who have read your book?  You mention that the response has been largely positive.  Any negatives?

A:  Yes, the response has been warm and generous.  But then, the people who know me would probably not tell me if they didn’t like it. 

Many people who read the advance manuscript wanted to know more about Dad after he got home.  So the published version has a brief epilogue that outlines Dad’s life post war. 

I did have one relative who wasn’t happy about a small anecdote in the book about someone on my mother’s side of the family.  That surprised me, because the story is primarily about my father and the Arizona Hendricksons.  But that was the only sour note in the symphony…at least so far.

10. Q:  Will there be a sequel? 

A:  I honestly don’t think so.  This book was unique in that it was driven by real events that were already written about by the subject of the book, my father.  I am too close to the years following Dad’s war service. That was my childhood and I was his first baby since the twins were 5 months old by the time he got home. I would not know where to begin. 

And, after all, the whole point of the book is that my father was just an ordinary man who lived through extraordinary times.  He was sent to war. They didn’t just hold the Germans off; they turned the tide of the war.   Dad wasn’t expected to survive, but he—and so many thousands of others—did survive.  And they came home to America and lived ordinary lives.  While that story might not make a good sequel to this book, it certainly made a good life for me and those of my generation.  It’s a legacy that I hope we will be able to pass along to our children.

Return to or Start with He Wrote Her Everyday, a review by World War II Vet and author Allan Wilford Howerton

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Lloyd Lofthouse, this blog’s host, is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

“He Wrote Her Every Day” reviewed by World War II Vet and author Allan Wilford Howerton

As a WW II combat veteran of the 84th Infantry Division (Railsplitters), serving in the same unit as the subject of this book, I [Allan Wilford Howerton] was honored to be asked to read and react to the manuscript of He Wrote Her Everyday prior to its publication.


Note from Blog host: the 84th Infantry Division landed on Omaha Beach, November 1 – 4, 1944, and fought in the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 – January 1945.

Ms Lindenberg, in getting the story together, has made a grand contribution to the literature of World War II. In addition to a war story, it is a wonderful book about love, longing, and faithfulness under unimaginable hardship and uncertainty.

Anyone with an interest in World War II will like He Wrote Her Everyday. It tells, among many other things, a true story about the plight of replacements rushed to the front lines to augment units suffering heavy casualties in the Siegfried Line and the Battle of the Bulge.

I was there, an infantryman in the same division, but thankfully not a replacement. They were assigned, often in the middle of a battle, knowing no one and without buddies to rely on. Many became casualties but those who survived adjusted pretty rapidly and went on, like the subject of this book, to make major contributions during the drive across Nazi Germany to end the war.

Writing about war experience is difficult for those who experienced it first-hand.  It is nearly impossible for someone who wasn’t there to give a believable picture of how things really were.   Use of the letters written during the war gives this book a strong sense of the soldier’s walk through the snow.

Cover for He Wrote Her Everday by Gail Lindenberg

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Allan Wilford Howerton, World War II veteran and the author of Dear Captain…

Continued on October 22, 2013 in a Question and Answer about the writing of “He Wrote Her Every Day” with author Gail Lindenberg

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Lloyd Lofthouse, this blog’s host, is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

A Review of “World War Z”

If you are into violent stories about war and destruction—suspense-thrillers/horror—and you haven’t read World War Z, you may want to think about it.

I saw the film before I listened to the book and the two are as different as night is to day. The only thing in common is the struggle between humans and zombies that hunger for human flesh due to a virus worse than EBOLA, MARBURG, HANTAVIRUS, LASSA, RABIES, SMALLPOX, DENGUE, SARS or HIV will ever be. A few always survive exposure to these viruses but no one survives exposure to the Zombie Virus. Once bit, you are doomed.

The Zombie Virus is our worst nightmare.

I enjoyed the film but reading the book left me admiring the author’s creative and vividly detailed imagination as the main character moves around the world interviewing survivors of the global war against the infected, hunger driven zombies.

Although the story is told through these interviews, the individual stories are attention grabbing—some more than others.

A number of themes run through the novel: one points out how governments are often incompetent; corrupt and how many of the people panic and make disastrous mistakes as a mob. Another theme focuses on survivalist and disaster preparation.

I bought and listened to the audio book and the cast of characters is incredible. I found the listening experience to be more powerful than watching the film and possibly more powerful than reading the book on paper. The cast of characters is long and their talent adds to the novel.

If you have a fascination with war, I don’t see how you can resist this novel.  The stories shared in this oral history of World War Z are as violent as they get.  World War I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan cannot compete with the combat that you will witness as a reader/listener of this novel.  Imagine an enemy that can’t die unless you cut off its head or blow apart its brain.  And all it wants to do is chew on living humans infecting them. Viruses find ways to spread and replicate just as the Zombie Virus does in this novel.

I awarded this novel 5-stars on Amazon because of the amazing imagination of the author that never failed to impress me. If there were awards for imagination, Max Brooks deserves one. In fact, the audio book—that I highly recommend—won an Audie Award in 2007 for the performance of a cast of more than forty that includes, for example, Alan Alda, Mark Hamill, Carl Reiner, Bruce Boxleitner,  Rob Reiner, Jon Turturro, Masayori Oka [NBC’s Heroes], and Martin Scorsese [the award-winning film director].

I couldn’t find the complete edition Audio Book I bought of World War Z on Amazon. My copy had 10 compact discs running 12 hours, and I bought it at Costco.

Discover “The Hurt Locker” and IEDs in Vietnam

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

“Divine Justice” reviewed

I’m a fan of David Baldacci’s Camel Club series, and I haven’t read one of his books with my eyes, but I’ve listened to them on unabridged audio books while driving. In fact, I’ve been listening to audio book for decades. I also read tree books at home. I’d like to read more e-books but the two Kindles I have bought keep telling me that I’m not who I am and won’t let me read the books I buy.

The Camel Club has four members who are obsessively loyal to each other, and if the group has a leader, it’s the man who goes by the name of Oliver Stone. His real name is John Carr and before he was reborn as Oliver Stone, he served in the US military and is a combat veteran who was recruited by the CIA to become a US government assassin—maybe the best assassin that ever lived, but as Oliver Stone he is a thorn in the side of men in the government who abuse their power.

Baldacci never served in the U.S. Military but that has not stopped me from enjoying his novels. The reason I enjoy these books is because John Carr aka Oliver Stone is a man with a conscience, and he is loyal to those who are loyal to him. He will die to protect his friends.

To date, I’ve listened to three of the five books in this series: “The Camel Club,” “Hell’s Corner,” and now “Divine Justice”.  The remaining two are on my—to listen to or read list—“The Collectors” and “Stone Cold”.

In “Divine Justice,” John Carr (aka: Oliver Stone) has become the most wanted man in America after he assassinates a powerful senator and America’s intelligence chief—these are the men who destroyed his life by murdering his wife years earlier and then taking his young daughter from him.

After the two-shot assassinations—one shot for each target—Carr is on the run. To escape, he takes an Amtrak train toward New Orleans, but his plans change drastically when he comes to the assistance of a young man who is being beat up by three bullies. Carr beats up the bullies and then befriends the young man, who seems to have a huge unfriendly chip on his shoulder.

This takes Carr to the remote coal-mining town of Divine, Virginia where he finds himself once again helping the victims of evil, powerful and corrupt men, but Carr also finds unexpected love—giving him a second chance at life—that is if he can stay alive and protect the woman he has fallen in love with, because she is a target too.

But Oliver Stone is not alone. The other members of the Camel Club are coming to help by shadowing Joe Knox, the government agent who has been sent to find Carr and deliver him to his executioner.

Will the Camel Club make it in time to save Stone/Carr? I’m not going to spoil the story, but I will recommend this series of books if you enjoy thriller-suspense novels that I think will keep you wanting more.

Discover A Night at the “Well of Purity”

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”