SYNOPSIS

     My Dying Breath is a story about patriotism and brotherhood during the Vietnam War.
     In the summer of 1969, President Nixon agreed to begin the Vietnamization of the war. Before the withdrawal of U.S. forces could begin, however, the Third Battalion, Ninth Marines - the first American unit to set foot on Vietnam soil in 1965 - was thrust into the cauldron one last time.
     My Dying Breath is based on the events surrounding the final major operation (Utah Mesa) conducted by the Third Marine Division in the northern I Corps of South Vietnam.
     My Dying Breath is primarily the tale of Tuck Richard (REE-shard), a gravely wounded Marine, who looks back on the journey that has whisked him and his friends from the Cajun country of south Louisiana, hardened them through the rigors of training and flung them into the jungles of 1969 Vietnam. Struggling to survive the elements and a wily enemy, Tuck, Donnie-Boy Hebert (AY-bear) and Johnny Robert (ROH-bear) drive unwittingly toward a tragic showdown with the infamous Col. Pham Van Bui. This NVA super-patriot, however, must survive his own enemies from within - his teen-aged nephew, Pham Thuc Trai, who seeks revenge, and a veteran Eurasian, Louie, who is trying to escape the futility of war.
     The novel's primary viewpoint springs from the main character, na´ve Tuck, and his relationship with his life-long friend, the seemingly indestructible Donnie-Boy. Their Cajun friend, the huge and unflappable Johnny, and an Alabama black man, Danny Jackson, strike a special bond that underscores the interracial bonding that war can forge. Together, these four men form the nucleus of the story.
     Tuck's story also involves a romantic relationship with Anna Carlisle. Through letters to his parents and Anna, Tuck reveals his transition from boy to Marine to hardened soldier and back to forlorn youth.
     The tale of Pham Thuc Trai portrays a conflicted Vietnamese teen seeking answers and closure to the horrible events in his life. Who is responsible for the slaughter of his family? The NVA and his uncle? Or, the Americans? For help, he turns to Louie, the 50-year-old Eurasian, who also has a hidden reason to lash out.
     My Dying Breath does not focus on drug scandals, politics or the other darker elements that too often overshadow the patriotism and heroism of the American fighting man in Vietnam. It includes a powerful religious undercurrent, which lends to the name of the novel - the final line of a prayer to St. Joseph the Protector "... and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath."

 CHAPTER 1

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