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A Vince Torelli Novel Book 1: MP - A Novel of Vietnam (ebook and print) by John Schembra (Vietnam War)

A Vince Torelli Novel Book 1: MP - A Novel of Vietnam (ebook and print) by John Schembra (Vietnam War)
(8 reviews)  

June 1967 As Vincent Torelli stepped off the plane at Bien Hoa Air Base, South Vietnam, he was almost overwhelmed by the stench in the hot, humid air. He still had a hard time realizing he was in Vietnam. Drafted into the armed forces five months earlier, he ended up becoming a Military Policeman, assigned to the 557th MP Co. at Long Binh Post just outside Binh Hoa City.

His year tour of duty in Vietnam changes him from a somewhat naive young man to a battle hardened veteran. Through unlucky chance, Vince becomes involved in the ferocious '68 Tet offensive, barely surviving the night. He sees and experiences things he could never have imagined before Vietnam.

This is Vince's story, of how he survived that year in Vietnam, how he coped with the hell he faced, of the friendships he formed, and of the sorrow of lives lost.

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A Vince Torelli Novel Book 1: MP - A Novel of Vietnam (ebook and print) by John Schembra (Vietnam War)
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(8 reviews)  

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5 Most useful customer reviews (see all reviews):
Karen Solomon
Jul 26, 2015
M.P. told the story of a young man who was drafted and sent to Vietnam in a compelling and factual manner. Without resorting to shock and gore, he was able to convey the problems and fears faced by many young boys who were sent to fight against a vicious enemy.

I read this book in one sitting because I really wanted to see who made it out, the characters were compelling enough for me to care. Well done.
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Jim Stewart Author of "The Ghosts of Vietnam" San Diego Schools P.D., Brawley P.D. (Retired) Former Military Policeman, Vietnam
John Schembra has written a follow up to the adventures of Vince Torelli. However, this does not take place in Vietnam like John’s first novel, “MP”. Torelli has returned home and is now an inspector with the San Francisco police department where he gets involved in a serial killer investigation and the search for the “Retribution Killer”. The author’s 30 years of being a police officer shines through in the book. It’s rich with detail, especially when describing the horrendous crimes and crime scenes. These particular things are very vivid to the reader. It’s more an expose on our disintegrating over burdened court system where deals are made leaving the men who do the work in the field stressed out at the results.
I liked this book a lot, and it’s a definite compliment to his first book about Vince. The author leaves you hanging in this one. What will be Vince’s next move. Will he also succumb to the folly that is justice? It will be interesting to see how the author follows this up. In his third book? Hope so.
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Al Bradley
Enjoyed the book. John tells a great story. As a former MP in the 720th MP Bn and 615th MP Co, at Long Bihn and Bien Hoa, I was moved by the telling. I truly enjoyed a trip to my past as an NCO during the same period as the story.

I have recommend the book to family and friends.
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Bill McDonald- President, Military Writer's Society of America
What the Vietnam War was like for M.P.'s

Author John Schembra, a former Army M.P. in Vietnam, draws from his own experiences in creating a very compelling account of that place and time in his book, "M.P., A Novel of Vietnam." The characters are multi-layered and complex and the intelligent dialogs make for good story telling.

Schembra draws out the action in a diary like presentation of young men going to war and sometimes the enemies are our own soldiers who get caught up in drugs and black marketeering or are drunk or AWOL. Sometimes it is hard to tell who the enemy really is.

The story takes you on a journey through a tour of duty and allows you to grow and change with the lead characters as they come to grips with the harsh realities of Vietnam. The Tet Offensive becomes the focal point of action in one part of the story but it is the people themselves that are center most in this story of survival, friendship, loyalty, and duty.

This book has a good fast pace and is a great look inside the military police of 1967 and 1968 around Long Binh and Bien Hoa. The author nails the time and place with his word pictures just like you are there; a very readable book and good entertainment.
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Nancy J. Bishaw, Author of "Angels Dare to Fly" for eBook Reviews Weekly http://www.ebook-reviews.net
John Schembra portrays a vivid picture of the Vietnam War. Vince Torelli is a student at San Francisco State University when he receives his draft notice. For some reason, his student deferment is no longer in effect and he is ordered to Fort Lewis, Washington for basic training. Once training is completed and the Military Police schooling finished, Vince finds himself assigned to the 557th MP Company, Long Binh, South Vietnam. I wonder if the powers-that-be are sane, sending these boys over to Vietnam after only twenty weeks of training: basic and AIT. How could they possibly be ready to fight the Viet Cong? But Vince ships out along with the other new recruits... and it will be a long journey home again.

Vince arrives in Bien Hoa, and one of the first things he's told is: "From here on out, you touch nothing that isn't government issue. You do not leave the friendly confines of the 90th Replacement Battalion until ordered to do so, and starting right now, consider every gook your enemy. You will be right most of the time. Trust no one who doesn't have round eyes, and be careful of some of them, too..."

Thus begins his tour of duty. Trust no one. In Vietnam, enemies are not clearly defined. A soldier can't tell who the enemy is by mere appearance. Orientation lasts two weeks, but Vince's real education begins after duty hours when he can talk with the other soldiers in the company. He learns what it takes to survive a war with hidden enemies and no rules, and to only trust the people you work with. Their lives, literally, depend on their fellow soldiers. They have to rely on each other, because that's all they have. They cover one another's backs, trying desperately to survive.

John describes many incidents in this war, and he doesn't pull any punches. He readily tells us of what some of our own men did over there. Things that weren't supposed to- or shouldn't have- happened. For instnace, there is the time a child steals a camera from one of the GIs and the soldier shoots him. Not your typical American response to such a situation, but then these GIs are under a lot of stress- and, I imagine, many of them were at the breaking point. During the Tet offensive, the author does a wonderful job of showing the fear and anxiety of the GIs as they fight the enemy despite their wounds. Through sheer will and determination, they struggle to live through it and reach safety. And to do that, they must rely on one another.

The author weaves a solid, interesting story that holds the reader's attention from start to end. Among the battles, he inserts some GI pranks that will make you grin for sure. It shows that even in the midst of the horrors of war the men need to left off steam.

All in all, "M.P., A Novel of Vietnam" is well worth reading. It gives an insight into the war that only someone who has been there can give. I highly recommend this action-packed book.
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Sample Chapter


3 June, 1968 2127 hrs.

The sprawling air base at Bien Hoa was lit only by the runway lights which the controllers turned off as soon as the plane came to a stop. The only other lights were evenly spaced along the perimeter wire a half mile away, and the lights from the terminal building south of the runways. The pilot shut down the plane's running lights as a jeep arrived at the boarding platform placed at the forward hatch by the air base personnel. The door opened, and Sgt. Vincent Torelli saw the interior lights had not been turned off again.

"Shit, Sarge, when are those idiots gonna learn?" Satler said, shaking his head.

"Maybe, Corporal, when the VC drops a mortar round in his cockpit."

"Never happen, Vince. Those gooks ain't no good with them mortars. Can't aim 'em for shit, then they only fire two or three rounds before they run off. Never hit anything but open space anyway."

"What's the matter, T.J.? You forget so soon what can happen?"

Vince shivered as the memory of the terrible night five months ago flooded back. He could once again hear the explosions and the gunfire, could feel the pain of his wounds, hear the cries of the dying. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and forced the memories from his mind.

"I don't want to be around if they get lucky, T.J. That open door is shining like a beacon, and maybe ol' Charlie will use it as an aiming point."

Torelli lit a cigarette, inhaling deeply as he watched the soldiers walking down the stairs from the plane. "Hey, T.J., how many of these guys you think will be getting back on a plane a year from now?"

"I dunno, Vince. I guess it depends how lucky they are."

"Yeah," Torelli said under his breath, "or maybe how smart they are." He turned to T.J. and said, "Let's get these newbies to the 90th before Charlie wakes up."

Phoung watched the soldiers walking across the tarmac with the binoculars he had stolen from the American deuce and a half parked in front of Three Doors earlier that evening. He could not see the unit patches on their shoulders from where he was, but he could at least count the number for his superiors.

He thought, It does not matter how many come, we will prevail in the end. One year from now, maybe ten years from now, but we will prevail.

As the last of the Americans entered the terminal, he put the binoculars back in their case, and crawled through the brush down the low hummock he had been using as his observation point.

Sgt. Vincent Torelli stood on the table addressing the newly arrived troops. "Welcome to paradise, gentlemen. You're probably wondering what's going to happen to you now. Well, from here you will be bused to the 90th Replacement Battalion where you will spend a couple of days while your paperwork is processed and arrangements can be made to get you to your permanent units." As he looked out over the group, he could see fear and uncertainty in their faces. Good, he thought, fear makes a man cautious, and a cautious man has a better chance of surviving here.

"From here on out" he continued, "you touch nothing that isn't government issue. You do not leave the friendly confines of the 90th until ordered to do so, and starting right now, consider every gook your enemy. You will be right most of the time. Trust no one who doesn't have round eyes, and be careful of some of them. If you keep your head out of your ass, you just might survive long enough to get back here a year from now."

Torelli knew it wasn't his job to lecture these men, but he figured the more they heard it, the more likely they were to take it seriously. "I wish you all luck. Now, head out to the buses, out that door", he said, pointing to the exit behind him.

Watching them walk out the door, Torelli's mind drifted again, remembering when

he had first arrived at Bien Hoa. He, too, had been a green 20 year old PFC, scared of the unknown, wondering what the next year would hold for him. He had stood at the top of the boarding platform, squinting in the bright sunlight. The heat and humidity were like a damp blanket, covering him and trying to pull him down. Now, here he was almost a year later, still alive, though somewhat worse for the wear. He was a short-timer now, with less than two weeks left until he rotated home. He thought of th

e last year and how it had changed his life. He was no longer the naive, sheltered, middle-class boy who had grown up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He had matured beyond his 21 years, and his eyes had been opened.

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