detweiler book coverI believe our veterans deserve to be remembered for their service to our country.  Not just in the here and now, but for generations to come.    Ross “Rosie” Detweiler’s well written autobiography, “The Great Muckrock and Rosie” accomplishes this in a skillful and memorable way.  The story begins when he enters the Air Force Academy and ends flying two combat tours in Vietnam as a fighter pilot, garnering numerous awards and decorations along the way.  But while his remembrances of being a carefree bachelor after graduating from the academy, learning to fly, and flying combat, are entertaining and eminently readable; they are not the glue that holds the story line together.  Rather, it is the supporting characters of fellow academy classmates who bonded as lifelong friends that provide the necessary background and continuity to the book.  Detweiler  treats these men and their family with great care and respect; stepping out of the timeline of the story occasionally to describe their upbringing, personal life,  and of course, their experiences during the war.  Taken together, they weave a rich fabric of friendship, youthful exuberance, love, happiness, dedication, and sometimes tragedy.

As expected from an autobiography of a fighter pilot, Detweiler’s writing moves along crisply,  taking care not to get too far ahead of the reader—much as if he were leading a  formation.  At times though, his writing becomes downright philosophical in character.  That’s when he is at his best, because that’s when he reveals core truths that we could all learn from.  Here is an example, taken from the introduction:

“I want to simply state how proud I am to have been with them [his friends] during the times in this story, and to let you know how much we cared for and helped each other while preparing for and engaging in war.  I want you to note that these are not famous men, but just good men.  They are not “war lovers,” that curious breed that finds joy in death and destruction, but they are warriors.  The men in this story, who were my friends, were called to battle and went, aggressively answering the challenge of those who stood in the way of their country’s objectives.  When trained, motivated, and engaged, they were unbeatable—absolutely unbeatable. Unfortunately, they were betrayed by the very top of the chain of command, and behind by those who had other agendas.”

There will come a time in the not too distant future when those of us who were called to battle and went to Vietnam will be gone, and there will be no one left to explain to the generations that follow why we did what we did.    One way to prevent this is to read books like “The Great Muckrock and Rosie”; and pass it on to your family.  It should be on your bucket list to do that now, rather than later.  You owe it to your children and grandchildren.

ronRon Standerfer is a novelist, freelance writer, book reviewer, and amateur photographer whose articles have appeared in numerous news publications including online editions of the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, and the Honolulu Star Advertiser. He is a member of the International Travel Writers & Photographers Alliance (ITWPA) and American Writers & Artists Inc (AWAI). He is a retired Air Force fighter pilot who flew 237 combat tours in Vietnam War. His novel, The Eagles Last Flight, chronicles the life of an Air Force fighter pilot during the Cold War and Vietnam years. He also publishes an online magazine, The Pelican Journal.

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