Cover image for West Dickens Avenue : a Marine at Khe Sanh
West Dickens Avenue : a Marine at Khe Sanh
Corbett, John.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Ballantine Books, 2003.
Physical Description:
xvi, 205 pages : illustrations, maps ; 22 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS557.8.K5 C67 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Author Notes

John Corbett returned home to Nyack, New York, following his service in Vietnam. He now lives in Key Largo, Florida

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Khe Sanh, in which some 6,000 marines were outnumbered seven-to-one by North Vietnamese regulars, has slowly assumed its place as one of the most famous of American battles. It occurred over 77 days, beginning in December of 1967. General Giap himself masterminded the siege, thinking the time propitious for a wholesale American collapse on the order of Dien Bien Phu. Corbett's is an eyewitness account, but he has sifted through every history he could find so that readers will understand both the enemy's movements and the thinking of the marines. The march of days saves mortars-specialist Corbett from his wandering structure so that, while he is no Philip Caputo, he develops suspense about whether he will make it through the battle unwounded, and which of his buddies will die. They die on nearly every page. The water is poisonous, the food nothing but C-rations, and it is impossible to sleep. Of course, the marines do survive, and their bravery lives on. Semper fidelis: 36 years later, Corbett does them proud. John Mort

Publisher's Weekly Review

Few Americans had it rougher in the Vietnam War than the 6,000 or so Marines who were caught at Khe Sanh during the infamous January-April 1968 siege by the North Vietnamese Army. Corbett was one of them. He had seriously considered fleeing from his hometown of Nyack, N.Y., to Canada to avoid serving in the Vietnam War. He abruptly changed his mind, though, and on a dare enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in the summer of 1967. By early January of 1968, Corbett found himself at Khe Sanh in a mortar platoon with the 26th Marine Regiment. Within days of his arrival at the remote outpost near the borders of Laos and North Vietnam, Corbett and his fellow Marines (along with a unit of South Vietnamese Army Rangers) were surrounded by elements of three divisions of North Vietnamese Army troops. The NVA soon launched three months of almost nonstop combat assaults and countless artillery, mortar and rocket bombardments, at one point succeeding in blowing up the Marines' huge ammunition supply depot. There also were intermittent sniper attacks. Corbett narrowly escaped death twice. Once, a sniper's bullet whistled through his hair; another time he was blown into a bunker by an artillery blast, but was miraculously untouched by the rain of shrapnel. In this short, readable account, Corbett describes his days at Khe Sanh in almost dispassionate prose and in great detail. His brief, staccato sentences effectively convey the siege from a Marine grunt's point of view. Corbett skips lightly over his last nine months in Vietnam, during which he saw plenty more combat action. His brief description of his less-than-overwhelming homecoming reception rings true. The book's odd title comes from a discarded American street sign Corbett found while digging his personal foxhole at Khe Sanh. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Mapsp. xiii
1 Enlistmentp. 1
2 Vietnamp. 11
3 Welcome to Khe Sanhp. 18
4 West Dickens Avenuep. 35
5 A Million-Dollar Woundp. 52
6 On the Job Trainingp. 71
7 Under Enemy Firep. 96
8 In Enemy Sightsp. 119
9 They've Come to Kill Usp. 130
10 Home Is Where You Dig Itp. 150
11 Seventy-Seven Days of Combatp. 166
12 Back to the Junglep. 191
13 I'm Leavingp. 195
Epiloguep. 201