I continue to receive questions about the characters in my book, Marines Never Cry: Were they real? What did they look like? Do you have pictures? And so forth.
Remember, the book is historical fiction – i.e., some stuff is made up or embellished. Some of the characters were real and I do have pictures of them. I didn’t include pictures in the book because I prefer to let the reader imagine the characters in their own minds.
As an aside, the pictures were taken with a Yashica “EZ-matic 4” using 126 cartridges. There were no digital cameras in those days. I still have that Yashica, which has signs of Vietnam on it – some embedded red dirt that I left on purposely.
Most people want to know about Sharon – Was she real? Did she really look like Sharon Tate? Yes to both questions.
Little Dot is the next most popular character. I devoted Section 24 to her, “Goodbye Little Dot.” Yes, she too was real. I’ve attached pictures of Dot, Zeke and the other kids that gathered near the guard bunkers for food and banter. They were always hungry, it seemed.
Sometimes kids carried grenades or other deadly devices at the behest of the Viet Cong and killed Americans when they got close … but not very often. The kids in the pictures posed no threat. We marines trusted them and they trusted us. We knew their names; they knew ours. We were friends. Father figures.
In section 24, of my book, “Goodbye Little Dot,” I talked about her with affection. I even mentioned that Zeke’s sisters wanted him to bring her home to join the family when he returned from Vietnam. Guess which one is Little Dot. Cute, eh?
American servicemen in Vietnam really took to the kids and vice versa. To draw on Col. Mike Kirby’s comment to Hamchunk in the movie, The Green Berets, kids were the personification of why the U.S. was there – to make the present and future safe for them.
I know what happened to Dot. I will always wonder what happened to the rest of them.