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A Review of Larry Winers' The Making and Unmaking of a Marine

By Remy Benoit

Once upon a time there was a war – a police action – when our young men were sent to Vietnam in very large numbers.

Some went willingly, signing up as Larry did; others, many others, were drafted.

Some went on military transport; some were dropped into the war zone by commercial flights that took off very quickly, flying their remaining passengers to business meetings and to vacations.

It is said that no matter the number of others with whom you go to war, each soldier goes alone; goes alone wondering if he will live to board the Freedom Bird home; goes alone questioning if the courage will be drawn up to do what must be done.

Each one goes ignorant of what war really is until the boots are on the ground and screams of Incoming swiftly bring a new reality that turns everything previously known, previously believed, upside down.

Yet, even in this aloneness, each soldier who goes to war brings many people, belief systems, and experiences with him. They are the active ghosts of the former life that have no place in a war zone.

Or do they?

The answer to that question comes to each soldier wherever he finds himself in combat as did this author.

Larry Winters’ story is powerful, thought provoking, and question raising because it is honest, open, and forthright. His pain, his hopes, his illusions and disillusions, pour through the pages of this book with such intensity that we find on his path with him the rocks under which lie hidden things that must be brought out into the light and dealt with. Larry prompts those who travel with him to find the courage to turn over their own rocks, to see what lies beneath.

Larry’s rock piles include an overly harsh father with an endless heavy work list; an overly harsh father who was not averse to inflicting severe physical punishment.

At a time when deferments were possible, when many took advantage of them, some multiple times, Larry chose Parris Island as a way out, knowing that the training there, the commitment to serve, would take him to the green.

His is a story known to many. What is unique, what is special about The Making and Un-making of a Marine is how Larry chose to deal with the wounded, shattered soul he flew home with on that Freedom Bird.

His is a story of a marriage gone wrong as so many others know only too well, both then and now.

His is a story of the closest bond on the planet between those who fought together to keep each other alive.

His is a story of facing the wretched ugliness of his war experience; of going through the pain; of educating himself to a position where he could help others through their pain.

There is anger in this story; there is forgiveness; there is guilt at being a chopper gunner rather than having had boots on the green of the jungle boonies.

There is learning to be a father in this tale; there is learning to be the mature son, no longer needful of the father’s approval.

There is learning about loving and finding resolution.

There is life long pain here; and there is hope.

There are the “old bastards” who make the wars they send the young to fight.

But most of all there is the fight to maintain and to grow personal integrity in Larry’s story.

Those who fought this war; those who protested this war; those who found a way to not fight this war, all have much to learn from The Making and Un-Making of a Marine.

Honor those who did serve. Take this tangled path with Larry Winters while he walks point for you. Begin to learn what he, what they know – those who served then, whenever and wherever then was, as well as those who serve now.

They are not separate from us – they are us – walking the dark, rock strewn path in The Making and Un-making of a Marine into the light will help you understand that.

Please join Larry at The Making and Un-Making of a Marine. for more of his writing, his poetry, his wisdom, and his healing heart.


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This item is part of historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.

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