When I first heard about Fearless, I was not familiar with Eric Blehm. The back story of the book captured my attention enough that I wanted to read it. When Legend became available, I knew I wanted to check it out.
Before reading Legend, I have to admit I didn’t know a lot about the conflict in Vietnam. I knew some of the history behind it and that having American soldiers fighting in Vietnam was not supported by a lot of folks back at home. My dad, nephew and son had a chance to visit Southeast Asia a few years ago and they shared a little bit about their time there and what they observed. By and large, I only knew the basics about our involvement there. This book was in the very least an education of what many of our soldiers experienced while serving in this conflict.
Legend is the powerful story of Roy Benavidez and his heroic efforts to save fellow soldiers caught in a very dangerous situation. The explanation of his actions kept me engaged in the chapters that unfolded his desire to serve in the US military, the injuries he overcame in one tour of duty and his desire to participate in another tour. It was on this second tour where his heroism was on full display.
One thing that struck me as I was reading about Roy’s heroic actions was that they occurred the year I was born. My birthday fell literally days before the events in this book unfolded. I kept thinking that while I was just beginning my life in a town in Indiana, there were men laying down their lives to promote freedom halfway around the world.
A challenge in reading this book was all the military language that was used. There were names and nicknames and abbreviations for all types of things. While the author explained what a slick was and what SOG stood for, it was easy for me to get lost in the code names. Still, the book portrayed a very vivid picture of what took place in Vietnam.
As with most readers who would pick up this book, I tried to think how I would respond in a similar situation. Would I jump out of a helicopter in enemy territory to try to rescue my fellow soldiers or would I keep my head down and simply try to stay alive long enough to make it home from my tour? Roy’s actions show a man who put others before himself and literally put himself in harm’s way to try to get others to safety.
Legend gave me a renewed appreciation for men like Roy who serve selflessly and count it an honor to do so. What came out through the pages of his book was not just his heroism, but his humility. It’s a good story many would benefit from hearing.