What readers’ are saying about The Violent Season.
I just finished reading “The Violent Season”. Wow! [Gleason] nailed it. After reading my cousin’s account and writing of my own time spent in the army in Nam, I couldn’t put his book down.
… this book touched me very deeply. The author evokes memories of the loss of innocence, anger and disillusionment but added to that are very deep feelings of love for the men with whom I served.
From Chapter 6, “Initiation”
The guy standing over the cab is Jimmy Delvecchio. Everybody calls him Jimmy, or Jimmy D, or just D. He’s got Bravo team. They’re the guys on the other side of the truck, Sweetie Gomez and Freddy Harris. Freddy’s from Detroit and Sweetie’s from LA, so D’s got all my city boys. We’re runnin’ a bit short like the whole company, so I got the squad and Alpha team. You’re with me to start. That guy next to you, that’s Johnny Little. We call him ‘Little Bit.’”
Green looked to his left and saw a guy, who looked more like Rosy Greer than a “little bit.”
Little Bit kept his eyes glued to his sector of fire, but out of the side of his mouth, he said, “Welcome to paradise, Rook! Misery sure do love company.” Then he laughed in a strangely humorless way.
The truck slowed suddenly. Jonesy got up and looked over the cab. They were approaching a built up area.
“We’re coming into Kontum,” he told the others. “Keep a sharp lookout. Nobody gets near the truck. And, don’t let anybody throw anything at us.”
Jonesy sat back down next to Green. “Okay! Until you get a feel for this shit, just keep your eyes on me. If the shit hits the fan, do what I do. I hit the dirt; you hit it. I open up, so do you. Just fire at whatever I’m firin’ at. I get up and run, you follow. Never stay up for more than about three seconds or someone’s goin’ to nail you. When you go down, roll. Try to get to cover first, then concealment. The fuckers know where you are anyway. Never come up where you went down, or somebody’ll be waitin’. You getting this?” Green just nodded.
“Okay,” Jonesy continued, “Keep your weapon clean and serviceable all the time. No more than eighteen rounds per magazine or you’ll jam that damn tinker toy. Check your rounds every couple of days. Get rid of the dented ones and any of them with dirt or mold. Most important parts of the rifle are the chamber and the bolt. Swab out the chamber with a patch every morning right before stand-to. The dampness gets in it and gums it up. Check your bolt. Make sure the extractor assembly, that’s the part in front, moves freely back and forth. And, check your firing pin. Had a guy assemble his bolt and he forgot the firing pin. That was one fuckin’ rude shock, I’ll tell ya. If you don’t have time to clean the bolt, slather some oil on it and wipe it down. But, be sure the extractor moves back and forth.”
Green imagined this is the way Langdon Towne learned his craft from “Hunk” Mariner before he moved out with the rangers to attack the Abenakis in French Quebec.
“Hey! You still with me, Green!” Jonesy interrupted Green’s reverie. “This shit’s important! Pay attention.”
Jonesy looked up to see where the truck was, then he continued, “Make sure you have a magazine locked and a round in the chamber, keep the safety on and keep your thumb on the safety. If you run into a dink, drop your thumb and grease the bastard. If you run into a bunch of dinks, drop your thumb then push it forward, and grease ‘em all. Hold the trigger back till you feel the bolt lock. Then release the magazine… just let it drop… lock another, release the bolt, you’re ready to go again. Keep doing that until someone tells you to stop. How many magazines you got loaded?”
“I got the full load,” he answered, “Ten. I got some ammo packed in my rucksack.”
“Ten mags!” Jonesy responded. “That’s not enough! When the shit hits, you ain’t goin’ have time to unpack your ruck! Hey, D! Give me one of your bandoleers!”
Jimmy D somehow managed to pull a bandoleer of ten magazines over his head and hand it back to Jonesy without taking his eyes of the road.
“I’m goin’ to want that back, Jonesy,” he said.
“Don’t sweat the small shit, D,” Jonesy answered.
Then he handed the bandoleer to Green. “Here put this on.”
Jonesy looked over the side of the truck and realized they were in the town.
“Come on, Green,” he said pulling Green to his feet, “I need you pulling security on this side.”
Green untangled himself from the bandoleer, letting it just hang down from around his neck. He looked out from the truck. They were on a road passing what appeared to be rows of stores, restaurants and bars. Some buildings were made out of masonry; some seemed to be knocked out of tin. There were colorful signs everywhere, a lot of yellows and reds, but Green could only read a few in a bizarre, tortured English, like “Happy Cowboy Bar” and “Shoeshine Barber,” and “Go Go Girl Deluxe.” There weren’t many people on the street. What few there were seemed to be ducking into the buildings or behind the three-wheeled Lambretta carts parked along the road as they passed.
“I don’t like this,” he heard Jonesy mutter beside him, “I got a bad feeling about this.”
Jonesy turn his head, and yelled, “Look sharp!”
“What’s wrong?” Green asked.
“When GI convoys run through these towns, they’re usually mobbed by kids begging C rations, coke-girls selling sodas, beers and shit, and hookers trying to make a fast five bucks,” Jonesy answered. “At least the people wave. These bastards are afraid to get close to us. I don’t like this shit at all. What did they tell you back in the rear about the rules of engagement?”
Green thought for a second. “Uhh… you can return fire… you can engage when you see enemy uniforms or equipment… uhhh… if you kill a civilian or an ARVN, your ass is grass…”
“Yeah,” Jonesy responded, “That’s the way they see the war back in basecamp. Whatever happens out here, don’t take any chances. The dinks could hit us with an RPG from any one of these alleyways. We can’t do shit about that, so don’t worry about it. If it happens, it happens. What’s more likely is they’ll send some kid running out of one of these doorways with a grenade. You see anyone running at this truck, boy, girl, man, woman, I don’t care if it looks like your baby brother, you put him down. Don’t yell “halt” or any of that shit. Just put him down. You got that!”
“Yeah… Yeah…” Green answered.
He felt adrenalin kick in as he brought his rifle up. He looked out over his sights and he could see everything, every little movement along the road. His eyes seemed to pierce through the darkness of the doorways and storefronts. He could hear the blood flowing through his veins and arteries.
This is how it was with the rangers when the French and Indians were stalking their retreat down from Quebec, he imagined. Any missed movement in the shadows was death.
The convoy finally cleared the town without incident… no grenade-throwing kids… no truck blown to bits by anti-tank rockets. Soon, they were back on the open highway with the jungle cut back on both sides.
Green realized his rifle was shaking. As his adrenalin drained, he felt exhausted the same way he felt after a three mile reveille run back in Ft. Jackson. Jonesy pulled him back down into the bed of the truck.
“Okay. We’re through that,” Jonsey said as they sat back down. “Better to be safe than sorry.”