Dead Center: A Marine Snipers Two-Year Odyssey in the Vietnam War

Dead Center : A Marine Sniper's Two-Year Odyssey in the Vietnam War
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Dead Center : A Marine Sniper's Two-Year Odyssey in the Vietnam War by Ed Kugler (1999, Paperback)

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Description Raw, straightforward, and powerful, Ed Kugler's account of his two years as a Marine scout-sniper in Vietnam vividly captures his experiences there-the good, the bad, and the ugly. After enlisting in the Marines at seventeen, then being wounded in Santo Domingo during the Dominican crisis, Kugler arrived in Vietnam in early As a new sniper with the 4th Marines, Kugler picked up bush skills while attached to 3d Force Recon Company, and then joined the grunts.

He was just Kugler started drinking at 14, encouraged by a local beer joint where even kids could buy a quart of Carling Black Label for a quarter. He was a rebel who did what he wanted, when he wanted. The Marine Corps quickly took that notion out of him. Kugler was hauled off to a corrective custody platoon after disobeying an order early in his military service.

Dead Center: A Marine Sniper's Two-Year Odyssey in the Vietnam War

You Are Viewing. Specifications Publisher Tantor Media, Inc. He states his case better than any general could do. Do not misread this as a schoolboy's lark. Jun 30, Sean Collins rated it it was amazing. I have never read anything where the insanity of Nam was so well and vividly explained. Gary Paresi.

His plan was to quickly rejoin his group when he heard them singing upon their return. After being subjected to humiliation, intimidation and monotonous, relentless physical tasks, he and another guy made a plan to jump out of a truck on the count of three and disappear into the woods. Kugler managed to elude his trackers for three days, drinking only swamp water and suffering scorpion bites before he was caught, handcuffed and taken to the MP barracks. The sergeant in charge of the corrective custody platoon doled out plenty of reprimand — mental and physical — before taking a softer tone with the errant Kugler.

You do your time and then I want you to make me proud.

It was the first time Kugler truly felt someone cared about him. Four Marines in his company were killed and 36 were wounded, including him. Kugler went on light duty after he recovered from his injuries, and when guys started coming home from Vietnam he heard their stories and wanted in on the action. By that time Kugler was an alcoholic, but in Vietnam boozing was part of the culture.

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It helped soldiers endure the long, hot days and unthinkable terror. When a couple of gunnery sergeants began organizing the first sniper units since World War II, Kugler volunteered for that, too. His marksmanship was keen enough. Out of about Marines, some 30 to 40 volunteered and they took 11 soldiers.

Kugler was one of them. I would be part of a special group. I got one of them on the run and Z got another.

Nine kills in one setting Like many Vietnam veterans, he returned home to a world that somehow seemed foreign to him. He missed the adrenaline rush of life as a sniper.

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Taking a drink would send him back to Vietnam mentally, but in a good way. It exhilarated him. It took him about five years to settle down after the war. He married Gloria, his wife of 48 years, who helped him sort out his feelings and led him to religion. Kugler was an atheist during the war, then an agnostic.

A Marine Sniper’s Two-Year Odyssey in the Vietnam War

Kugler was wildly successful in his post-war career. Work as a truck driver and mechanic catapulted into executive jobs for PepsiCo. His formula for getting ahead in the corporate world boiled down to this: He was good with people and he loved fixing things. He wanted to write about his Vietnam experience, and got a fortuitous foot in the door of the publishing world when another author tapped him for a segment in a book about snipers.

Kugler is still writing and doing some occasional speaking and consulting. He helped start the Lake County chapter of the American Congress of Truth for America, better known as ACT for America, a grassroots organization that in Montana has taken a stand against allowing unvetted refuges to settle here. But post traumatic stress continues to gnaw, sometimes more than others. One day he described it to his wife as bumblebees buzzing in his head. Bees have become a euphemism for his stress. Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at or by email at lhintze dailyinterlake.

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