In the Company of Decent Men by Andy Horne, Clovercroft, Division of Carpenter & Son Publishing, Franklin, Tenn., Copyright 2017, paperback, 380 pages, $15.99
U.S. Navy swift boats traveled along the coastal Mekong Delta into the enemy infested Co Chien River area of South Vietnam in November 1969.
Those on the boats witnessed the loss of 10 of the Navy’s finest men unnecessarily because of orders of patrol-boat commander Edward Lewis Stroud, accompanied by Lt. Lester B Wainwright.
Both had come from Coastal Squadron One, taking command for the day, canceling previously scheduled air backup support.
David Armstead, who would have been with the team, was still recovering from wounds sustained in an earlier encounter with the Viet Cong. He always wanted to know what happened that day: How had Stroud been captured away from the boat he was supposedly commanding? Why had “Pastor Bob,” a crew member of that boat, also left? Perhaps to get Stroud to the swift boat? How had Stroud escaped his captives?
His account of what had occurred made Stroud a hero. That popularity had carried him to the U.S. Senate and made him a serious contender for the presidency.
It would take Armstead four decades to research and resolve the puzzle. Putting together pieces from former teammates’ recollections, meeting those who had fought in the skirmish that day.
Armstead realized also someone with power didn’t want him to learn more. His home was being watched, and he was being followed by retired FBI agents.
History as told by Stroud didn’t match with others accounts. Would the new forensics lab reveal anything concrete about how Pastor Bob died? Would Armstead be able to solve the puzzle before someone got hurt or worse yet, killed?
In this novel, second in the Decent Men Series, Andy Horne, former U.S. Navy veteran, former federal and state prosecutor in Texas, and resident of Galveston, writes a very compelling, well researched and documented work.
Readers will sense, “I was there!” Chapters switch between 1969 and 1999 as well as locations, but readers will have no difficulty with time or place. Their difficulty will be in putting the book down before the dawning of another day.
Readers will have an opportunity to meet Horne from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday during a signing at the Galveston Book Shop, 317 23rd St.