“Mekong First Light”

By Lt. Joseph W. Callaway Jr.

Platoon Leader
2nd Battalion – 60th Infantry – 9th Infantry Division



December, 1966: Platoon leader Lt. Joseph Callaway had just turned twenty-three when he arrived in Vietnam to lead forty-two untested men into battle against some of the toughest, most experienced, and best-trained guerrilla soldiers in the world. Callaway soon learned that most events in this savage jungle war were beyond his control. But there was one thing he could do well: take the best damn care of his troops he knew how.

In the Viet Cong–infested provinces around the Mekong Delta where the platoon was assigned, the enemy was always ready to attack at the first sign of weakness. And when the jungle suddenly erupted in the chaos of battle, the platoon leader was the Cong’s first target. Mekong First Light is at times horrific, heartrending, and heroic, but is always brutally honest. Callaway’s account chronicles a soldier’s painful realization of the true nature of America’s war in Vietnam: It was a war that could not be won.

About the Author

JOSEPH W. CALLAWAY, Jr. grew up in Enterprise, Alabama, and New Canaan, Connecticut. He entered the army as a private in 1965 and, after being commissioned as an officer through Infantry OCS (Officer Candidate School), served in Vietnam from December 1966 until July 1968 as an infantry platoon leader with the 9th Division, a combat advisor to the first Thai regiment deployed to Vietnam, and as a staff officer with the 5th Special Forces. He graduated from Boston University in 1972 and is currently the western sales manager for CYRO Industries, a major chemical and plastics manufacturer. He lives in California with his loving wife, Susan, and has three sons, Tucker, Casan, and Quinn.

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