BRISTOL - Connecticut Vietnam veteran and author Charles McNair will discuss his book and his time serving in the medical corps tonight at the Bristol Public Library.
The program will be held starting at 6:30 p.m. at the library at 5 High St. McNair, a retired doctor, started writing his book “Soldiers of a Foreign War” in 1971 and completed it in 2015. It is a fictional novel, set in Vietnam, and loosely based on McNair’s own experiences. Following the hour-and-a-half long presentation, there will be time set aside for questions from the audience.
“He was 19 when he went into the service, and being a medic, you see, like the infantry, does the worst: the injuries and the killing,” said City Historian Bob Montgomery, who is hosting the event. “From what I understand, as he was writing this book, he would take a break for a day, a week, a month, sometimes a year. He didn’t want to rush and every once and a while he would think of something to add to an earlier part of the book.”
Montgomery said while writing his book, McNair also researched the Viet Cong - their training, their fighting tactics and their village life. The book follows two American platoons, a three-man Viet Cong group and staff from a small surgical group. One of the characters in the surgical group, Steve Aiken, is based on McNair.
Montgomery said this program will be a rare opportunity for those who did not serve in Vietnam to hear a veteran speak about his service. He said that, according to assistant library director Scott Stanton, a lot of libraries have been trying to get McNair to speak for them.
“One of my best friends served in Vietnam, but it is rare for them to talk about it except with others who served,” said Montgomery. “It reminds me of the World War II veterans who never talked about it for years, though some of them would open up later in life.”
Montgomery said one of the questions he plans to ask McNair is whether his decision to become a doctor was influenced by his time in the medical corps, or if he had planned to go into that field before his service. He will also ask about a time that McNair came under fire from the enemy.
For more information, or to register, call Bristol Public Library at 860-584-7787 or visit bristollib.com.