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“Kids like me didn’t go to Vietnam,” writes Jack McLean in his captivating memoir, Loon. Raised in suburban New Jersey, he attended the Phillips Academy in Andover, MA, but decided to put college on hold. After graduation in the spring of 1966, faced with the mandatory military draft, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps for a two-year stint. “Vietnam at the time was a country, and not yet a war,” he writes. It didn’t remain that way for long.
A year later, after boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, and stateside duty in Barstow, California, the Vietnam War was reaching its peak. McLean, like most available Marines, was retrained at Camp Pendleton, California, and sent to Vietnam as a grunt to serve in an infantry company in the northernmost reaches of South Vietnam. McLean’s story climaxes with the horrific three-day Battle for Landing Zone Loon in June, 1968. Fought on a remote hill in the northwestern corner of South Vietnam, McLean bore witness to the horror of war and was forever changed. He returned home six weeks later to a country largely ambivalent to his service.
Written with honesty and insight, Loon is a powerful coming-of-age portrait of a boy who bears witness to some of the most tumultuous events in our history, both in Vietnam and back home.
"The battle at Loon erupts suddenly and sucks you in. Like Jack McLean, you ask: what am I doing here? The answer is: you joined the Marines and now it's time to fight for your life. A gripping story of violence and dedication to survival."—Bing West, author of The Strongest Tribe
"Loon is a saga of an infantry Marine—the decision to enlist, the intensity of the recruit, mortal combat, and finally transition back to civilian life. This beautifully written story is a must read for all combat warriors, their families, and those interested in the turbulent times surrounding the Vietnam War."—Col H.C. "Barney" Barnum, USMC (Ret), Medal of Honor Recipient
“[This] unique tale . . . is skillfully written and will be among the classic books written about the Vietnam War."—Jan Scruggs, Esq., Founder and President, Vietnam Veterans Memorial
"McLean's debut is a perceptive memoir of the Vietnam war…McLean reconstructs his time in the Marines with a sharp eye for detail and very readable— at times almost poetic—prose."—Publishers Weekly