Nights In ‘Nam

Daler Publishes Nonfiction War Story

Denis McDevitt’s nonfiction novel, Highway Thirteen

Denis McDevitt was just 19-years-old when a letter arrived to his Woodside home in 1968, drafting him to serve in the Vietnam War. He was reconciled with men he grew up and went to elementary school with, but given the circumstances, it was a bittersweet reunion.

Half a century later, McDevitt is a 43-year resident of Farmingdale with a wife, two daughters, four grandchildren, a peaceful retirement and a story to tell.

“I always had an idea to write a book, but didn’t think I could remember all the things that happened,” said McDevitt. “I sat down at the beginning of October of last year and just started writing. I finished right after Thanksgiving.”

Having spent two months reliving his time in Vietnam, McDevitt was “an emotional basket case” and suffered a heart attack—one that should have killed him had it not been for an aspirin from his wife and a heart strengthened by running four marathons.

Denis McDevitt

“As they were sliding me into the ambulance I asked [my daughter] Nancy to get my book out,” he recalled.

McDevitt’s daughter, Nancy Einhart, vowed to not let her father’s story go without being told and printed the nonfiction novel Highway Thirteen through an online self-publishing service.

The novel starts with McDevitt’s flight overseas and continues with raw, honestly detailed stories of everything he saw and did through his travels in a war-torn Vietnam, from Cu Chi and Hoc Mon to Tay Ninh, Dau Tieng and everywhere in between.

“It covers a rifleman’s details of his job and what it’s like when you have to go to work when that bell rings and your training takes over,” said McDevitt of his book. He also covers topics that aren’t typically written about in Vietnam war stories, like race relations, hierarchy, privileges and smoking a joint or two. “Certain things nobody wants to talk about. I put it all there.”

Denis McDevitt in Hoc Mon, Vietnam.

The cover features lush, tropical foliage with the first light of sunrise breaking through—a scene that was profound to McDevitt as it meant he was still alive.

“I love the cover. I loved the dawn because I lived through another night,” he said. “When you hear a rooster it’s about 4:30 a.m. and you think, ‘oh good, I made it through another night.’”

Now happily in his retirement years, McDevitt said he’s not afflicted with boredom as he has the “secret of life.”

“I have four grandchildren. That’s it. Secret of life right there,” he mused. “My friends said, ‘you’re going to be so bored.’ I said, ‘no, I have the secret of life—grandchildren.’ And fishing.”

To purchase Highway Thirteen, visit www.lulu.com.

What did you think of this story? Let me know at aeichler@antonmediagroup.com.

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