Vietnam book writing proves cathartic

Writing a book about his experiences in Vietnam proved cathartic for Harold L. Thrasher.

CMI staff photo: Benna Sayyed

Harold L. Thrasher, a Marine infantry rifleman in the Vietnam War, reads an issue of Leatherneck Magazine Monday at his home office. Thrasher said his self-published book "Suicide Charlie Brothers Never Forgotten" provides a first-hand look at ground combat in the Vietnam War through the eyes of a Marine.

It help dissolve the anger he felt for almost three decades about a part of his life marked by death and destruction. He also felt hurt about the way he was treated when he returned from war.

"I'd get to writing and a story would just hit me and I would just break down and start crying because it was painful," said Thrasher, 68, a former U.S. Marine and retired railroad employee. "I'd have to put it on the shelf until I got where I could start writing again."

An infantry rifleman, Thrasher fought in Vietnam from March 1967 to April 1968.

He said "Suicide Charlie Brothers Never Forgotten" was written to provide a realistic look at the job of a U.S. Marine during the Vietnam War. He said the self-published 236-page narrative does not contain the vulgar language used by many of his fellow Marines in war.

"If the book helps one person, I'll feel like I did a good job," said Thrasher, from his home office where issues of Leatherneck Magazine fill the coffee table and photos, awards, medals and Marine memorabilia cover the walls.

During a 1998 reunion with his battalion company, Thrasher spoke to other Marines about Vietnam and realized the need to write a book.

Thrasher started writing his book in 1998, but it was not until March 2001 that Thrasher was able to fully let go of his anger. Thrasher said he had a spiritual awakening during a men's group meeting at Faith Christian Family Church and at Park Lake in Santa Rosa, when his friend Bill Mitchell led him in the sinner's prayer.

Thrasher prepared to write by reviewing letters he wrote his wife and parents while in Vietnam and past newspaper clippings about the war.

Thrasher said he is selling and giving copies of the book to family, friends and his Marine buddies. He will eventually sell it on Amazon.

Jim Cowman, a former Marine who served with the Fifth Marine regiment in the Vietnam War, said he read Thrasher's book in a couple days.

Cowman said Thrasher did a great job of describing the war in accurate detail.

"I like reading about what we went through," Cowman said. "He describes some of the weapons we use, the procedures we followed. He talks about being filthy, getting shot at and not knowing where it's coming from. He gets into some funny stuff, too."

Thrasher recently started writing another book, which focuses on his recruitment and early days in the Marines.

Name: Harold L. Thrasher

Age: 68

Military service: Charlie Company, First Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment of the First Marine Division

Married to: Suzanne for 48 years

Children: Melissa, Kenny

Personal motto: Semper fidelis, which means "always faithful to God, to country and to the corps."

Hobbies: Playing golf, camping, fishing

Favorite music: Pop gospel, country

Favorite food: Mexican

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