“Some stories should never be written.”
These words were spoken by Vietnam War veteran Tom Morton, a Clovis resident for the past 35 years. He was asked three years ago by local writing teacher Janice Stevens to write down his memoirs to publish in a book.
At first, he refused.
“Some things should never be written,” he reasserted.
But then, he wrote them.
“I remember that day that Tom wrote about the Tet Offensive,” Stevens said, referring to one of the largest military campaigns of the Vietnam War. “It was an amazing breakthrough. That story, it still gives me chills. He wrote like crazy and then he kept coming back with more stories.”
The hot-of-the-press book will debut on Veterans Day at Clovis Veterans Memorial District, where Morton will sign copies and read a few excerpts.
“It’s a collection of remembrances of when I was in the Marine Corps during Vietnam, from 1966 to 1969,” Morton said. “It’s not just about war; it’s about other factors involved. You still have a civilian life outside of the Marine Corps.”
“I wrote about events that happened in that life indirectly because of the military.”
Morton chronicles stories from Vietnam while he served there in 1968, and also the story of why he joined the Marine Corps in the first place.
Morton said he worked with Vietnamese people and Vietnam’s armed forces directly during the war. He received the Bronze Star Combat V and a Purple Heart.
“It’s a powerful, in-the-moment type of book,” Stevens said. “It’s dialogue-driven, very snappy and very concise.”
Even its title is snappy: “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.”
“It doesn’t stand for ‘where’s the food,’” Morton said with a laugh. He chose the title for his book because “a lot of the stuff that happens in it brings that phrase to mind.”
Morton has sold more than 60 copies of the book through presales. It will soon be available on Amazon.com.
“It’s not your everyday military book,” Morton said. “It’s probably more unique in the way it’s told. It’s not about the blood and guts. It’s very direct. I believe it reads quickly.”
Along with Morton, several more local authors will sign copies of their books at CVMD, 808 4th St., on Veterans Day from 1 to 4 p.m. They include:
▪ Gid Adkisson, “Infantry Lieutenant,” about his father’s WWII combat service.
▪ Ken Eaton, “Missing Dog Tags,” about his three escapes and captures during the Korean War.
▪ George Gruner, “Into the Night” which recounts the histories of Hammer Field, Pinedale and the Fresno Fairgrounds and their impact on the Japanese internment in the Central Valley during WWII.
▪ David Hendrickson, “The Patrol Frigate Story,” about his experience serving on the USS Albuquerque PF-7 during a 14-month tour of duty in the Bering Sea during WWII.
▪ Phyllis Johnson, “A Different Drummer: The Adventures of a Civil War Hero and Artist,” which pieces together family legend and careful research for a story about her ancestor, Julian Scott who started out as a drummer boy in the Civil War and ended up recording a visual history of the war.
▪ Dave Leue, “Korean Combat” and “Vietnam Combat,” about his lengthy military career. His wife, Stella, finished his last book from his journals after he passed away.
▪ Jim Mobley, “Betrayal” about his service in the jungles of Vietnam.
▪ Janice Stevens, “Stories of Service: Valley Veterans Remember WWII” and “Stories of Service: Valley Veterans Remember WWII, Korea, Vietnam and the Cold War” which compile veterans’ memoirs.