Grady C. Myers and Julie Titone
When the United States was in the thick of the Vietnam War, a legally blind, out of shape young man from Boise volunteered. Grady Myers had been rejected previously because of his physical problems, but the Army of 1968, desperate to fill its ranks, snapped him up and shipped him off to Fort Lewis for basic training. This memoir of Myers’s time in training and then in the madness of the conflict in Vietnam provides a very personal account of the people and events of the war.
After he returned from Vietnam, Myers studied art in Seattle and embarked on a career as a newspaper artist. His illustrations in the book capture his time as “Hoss,” the big M-60 gunner with the 4th Infantry. His sense of humor and compassion come through in both the pictures and the narrative. Myers told his stories to Julie Titone, now the communications director at WSU’s College of Education, in the late 1970s. The two were married, then divorced, and decades later Titone worked with him to put his Vietnam experience into a book.
Titone lets Myers’s language and great storytelling skills take center stage. The title of the book comes from a mispronounced and Americanized French phrase, beaucoup dien cai dau, meaning crazy and off the wall. The short intense period that Myers spent in Vietnam really shows the craziness of the time, from the soldiers (both good and bad), the general malaise, and the frighteningly off-kilter behavior. Myers died in 2011 but his book—part M*A*S*H and part Full Metal Jacket—brings to life a dark and uncertain war with humor and humanity.