Book chronicles Marine life in Vietnam
By By LYDIA GRIMES Features writer
A former area resident figures prominently in a recent book which chronicles the life of a U.S. Marine "grunt" during the Vietnam War.
James M. McGougin, who passed away in 2001, entered the U.S. Marine Corps May 25, 1963, at the age of 18. By the time he left active duty, he had received the Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Navy Unit Commendation Medal, Purple Heart Medal and the Bronze Star Medal.
The Bronze Star was presented with a letter which told of several incidents in which McGougin proved himself.
"During Operation Teton, Sgt. McGougin's platoon was assigned the mission of holding a vital link in a cordon around a Viet Cong village. While he was checking positions during the evening, he observed 12 Viet Cong attempting to penetrate the lines. Alerting his men, he directed fire at the enemy, killing four and forcing the others back into the village. As a result of Sgt. McGougin's prompt actions, none of the enemy escaped and 27 enemy killed were found the following morning in the village."
McGougin was wounded twice and received the Purple Heart.
In March of 2004, June McGougin, received a telephone call from Gary L. Tornes, who had been a fellow soldier of James' in Vietnam. Tornes had written a book about their experiences and wanted to invite James to come to the book signing. The two soldiers had not kept in touch and Tornes was unaware that James had died.
In June of 2004 June received a letter and a package containing a couple of signed copies of "Apprentices of War: Memoir of a Marine Grunt."
"The book gets a little raw and sordid but that's the way it was," he wrote. "I didn't 'sugar coat' anything. I'm sure you will be proud of Mac in the book-he was the ultimate leader."
June has presented one signed copy of the book to the Brewton Public Library in memory of her husband. It will be available for those who would like to read it. It may also be purchased from Barnes and Nobles.
June and James McGougin were married soon after his return from the war and they became the parents of two children, Monte, who lives in Brewton, and Hope, who lives in New Orleans.