Forty years after being seriously injured in the Vietnam War, Daniel Seidenberg Jr. — a local Santa Barbara author and Vietnam veteran — decided it was time to tell his story. His book, titled Vietnam Ambush, is a short narrative that chronicles Seidenberg’s three-month experience in the war that left him scarred and disabled for the rest of his life.
I was fortunate enough to meet with Seidenberg, and when asked why he waited nearly 40 years to write his story, he said: “When I first got back, I just wanted to forget it. I think that’s the normal thing for infantry. What you find out is, that’s impossible.” This being an obviously tough subject for Seidenberg, I began to understand that the reason he had the story published was to inform future American soldiers of his experience. Throughout the autobiography he is referred to as “Pappy” by the other soldiers because he was 21-years-old at the time, while the rest of the “grunts” were only 18 or 19 at the oldest. Just as his fellow troops looked to him for guidance, Seidenberg plans to continue spreading his wisdom and knowledge.
“If you may be considering joining the military, read this first. Especially if you want to join combat arms,” said Seidenberg. The book begins with his experience leading up to being shipped out, and as he shows in his story, the young and impressionable minds that enter a recruitment office must take everything they hear with a grain of salt. Even though the United States no longer institutes a draft and recruitment practices have no doubt changed since his time, Seidenberg’s words resonate with truth today. “To write this is to relive it,” he said. “To relive it is painful. Just talking to you is painful. But looking at today’s war, I see Vietnam all over again. And I have to say something.”
For a quick read that is enjoyable as well as informational, Vietnam Ambush is something to add to your local authors list. As Seidenberg says, “It’s action packed — there’s no love scenes. It won’t take you long.” Although he may want high school grads on their way to the military to read this, it is a story that all generations will appreciate.