Praise for To The Sound Of The Guns
Grady Birdsong’s book is a combination of well-researched operational history and a moving and deeply personal account of the author’s own combat experiences in Vietnam. It is both history and story. The places, the events, and most especially, the Marines and Sailors of whom the author writes, become vividly real, transporting the reader to that distant place and time. A highly recommended addition to the record of the U.S. Marines in the Vietnam War.
~ Colonel Len Blasiol, USMC (Ret)
Coauthor, U.S. Marines in Vietnam: The Defining Year 1968
Published by the History and Museums Division
Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C.
This book is a tribute to the Marines of 1/27 and to all Vietnam War veterans. It is a well-researched and documented history from fall 1967 all through deployment until the fall of 1968. It includes Operation Allen Brook and other events that took place southwest of Da Nang at Liberty Bridge, and Go Noi Island, among others. But beyond good research, this book has the distinctive touch of being written by someone who knew many of the characters, and experienced many of the events. This book will be of special interest to Vietnam veterans, Marines, students of history, alumni and family members of the 27th Regiment.
I met Grady Birdsong in Dec 1966 when we were recruits in boot camp Platoon 2267 at MCRD, San Diego. Grady has always been a straight shooter, in fact he was our training series high shooter (234) and the platoon honor man at graduation. Serving with 1st ANGLICO from Sept 1967 to Jan 1969, I spent much of 1968 in an adjacent area east of 1/27’s area of operations.
~ Paul D. Carter, Sergeant, 1st ANGLICO, Vietnam 1967 – 1969
Professional Engineer, FACI
Senior Bridge Engineer @ CH2M Hill
To The Sound Of The Guns speaks for what it was like to serve in a Marine infantry maneuver battalion in I-Corps during the height of the Vietnam War. I know, I was there in a sister battalion during Operation Allen Brook in the spring-summer of 1968. This history brought back many memories. If a person wants to know what it was like, this is an accurate read. Corporal Grady Birdsong’s history of our sister battalion, 1/27, documents not only my story, but the stories of the other Marines I humped with, fought, cried, and prayed with in 1968.
~ Wesley S. Love, Sergeant, USMC Kilo Co, 3/27, Vietnam, 1968
To the Sounds of Guns hits a nerve, in the positive sense, for this Hospital Corpsman who served in Echo Company 2nd Battalion 7th Marines in the time frame this book written. It pulls one back to the time and experiences, many similar and some different, and the humor and sadness of the lived experience. Historically it fills in the holes in my ignorance of being young and ignorant in a world of hurt. In a word, Grady Birdsong’s writing is touching!
~ Dennis E. Sedlack, HM2 Echo 2/7
Vietnam, July 1968 – July 1969
In World War II, the 1st Battalion, 27th Marines created a storied history for itself. A generation later, the unit was ordered to stand up again, this time to fight in the jungles of Vietnam. “To the Sound of the Guns” takes the reader through 1/27’s reorganization in Hawaii to deployment on the battlefields of Vietnam—a move expedited by the enemy launching its 1968 Tet Offensive.
The author, Grady Birdsong, chronicles how 1/27’s “band of brothers” came together—a battalion of Marines proving every bit as courageous in battles like Hue City as were their World War II counterparts at Iwo Jima. Birdsong’s research delves also into the thinking of the political and military leaders who put 1/27 in harm’s way, revealing a mindset sometimes lacking cohesiveness—and unwilling to hear about it from others. Detailed, too, is 1/27’s impressive operational history and combat record.
Just like the Marines of World War I were “First to Fight,” paying a heavy price for doing so, so too did the Marines of 1/27, ultimately losing 112 of their number.
Birdsong’s book creates an intriguing account and chronology of men, voluntarily answering their country’s call to duty, who transition into warriors. He is able to provide extraordinary insightfulness into 1/27’s experiences because he, too, was part of that evolution.
“To The Sound Of The Guns” is a highly recommended read for those who served in 1/27, those interested in Marine Corps history and those just seeking to understand how the mettle of Marines is forged.
~ LtCol James G. Zumwalt USMCR
Detachment Commander, 4th CAG Vietnam
Author, Bare Feet, Iron Will–Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam’s Battlefields
Living the Juche Lie–North Korea’s Kim Dynasty
Doomsday Iran–the Clock is Ticking
Contributor: Leadership in Action–Principles Forged in the Crucible of Military Service Can Lead
Corporate America Back to the Top; Profiles in Patriotic Leadership
Writer of hundreds of op-eds on foreign policy and defense-related issues
Grady Birdsong’s book is exactly what the American public needs to read! He has done a great service to Marines and the 1st Battalion of the 27th Marine Regiment by digging deep and sharing his first-hand experience as a rifleman with 27th Marines and other respected units during the peak of the Vietnam War. Through his meticulous and detailed account, we learn in words, pictures, facts, and figures about what this brave battalion endured, and gain a better appreciation for all those who served in Vietnam.
~ Tim Hall, USMC, Vietnam – 1966-67
Author, Marines Never Cry: Becoming a Man When It Mattered
This should become one of the definitive narratives of US Marine involvement in Vietnam. Filled with anecdotes that could only come from a first-person participant, catalogs of equipment used, strategic correspondence obtained through meticulous research, this new book by Corporal Grady Birdsong should be sought out and acquired by every serious scholar of the Vietnam War.
~ Mark Hardcastle, 1982 USAFA graduate, Persian Gulf War combat pilot, Airline Captain
Author, The Symphony of Your Life: Restoring Harmony When Your World Is Out of Tune, 2014
Grady Birdsong is a trailblazer in the finest traditions of Marine Combat Author’s that returned home from their “Trip Down South;” and with impressive success, told their story. Grady fits that template perfectly. His research is scholarly, detailed and focused. The supporting graphs, photos, and referenced first-hand battle accounts are well presented and bring the smell of battle and the battlefield right into the reading room with you. Birdsong focuses all his energy and resource’s over the past several years documenting the history that clearly highlight his deeply held respect for the Marine Warriors of his beloved 1st Battalion, 27th Marines. On numerous occasions this fighting battalion conducted, literally and figuratively, a passage of lines as they continued the attack into that cordite and gun smoke shrouded, now hallowed ground known as the Go Noi Island, Liberty Bridge, and other locations in that AO that were then and remain the stuff of legends. His Vietnam battle accounts bring new meaning to the term “Gun Fighters.” His riveting book absolutely belongs in the honored and treasured section of the libraries of all those Marines that carried the fight to the VC and NVA while serving in what was always a violent and deadly battle area. To The Sound Of The Guns will join Webb’s, Fields of Fire. as a classic of that era, time and place.
~ LtCol Ken Pipes USMC (Ret)
Bravo 6, 1/26. Khe Sanh, TET, 1967/68
Assistant S-3: Hill 55, Liberty Bridge, Go Noi and Dodge City AO’s
Reserve Captain, San Diego Sheriff Department 1990–2016
Grady Birdsong has written far more than the history of the 1st Battalion, 27th Marines from 1966-1968. He has done an excellent job of recording the organization of Marine units and the weapons they carried. The collection of photos from many of the Marines and their families will bring back many memories of the adventures of Marines and Corpsmen in Vietnam during this era.
This book is a great repository of Marine history that should be required reading for Marines. Marines of battalion 1/27 will see their history but other Marines will receive an understanding of what the peak year of the war in Vietnam was like. The battle of Hue City is one history but there is so very much more…
~ Colonel Frederic L. Tolleson USMC (Ret)
CO, Echo Co 2/7 Vietnam
CO, 6th Marine Regiment
U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1955
Grady Birdsong has written an extremely detailed history of the 1st Battalion, 27th Marines from its reactivation to the unit’s deactivation during the Vietnam war. He has moved past just writing history by filling the pages with multiple stories and pictures of the Marines and Corpsmen, weapons and support equipment, the details of combat and life in an infantry battalion. The book is a great contribution to our Corps’ history while honoring those who served in this battalion during 1966-1968.
~ Major General B. Don Lynch, USMC (Ret)
CO, 8th Communication Battalion, Camp Lejeune, NC (1981-1983)
CG, 1st Force Service Support Group, Camp Pendleton, CA (1992-1993)
Director, Marine Corps Staff, HQ Marine Corps, WDC (1994)
Deputy CG, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, VA (1995)
For those who were there, Grady Birdsong’s To the Sound of the Guns will evoke powerful memories. For those who were not, it will reveal a level of detail found in no other book in my own personal, and extensive, collection of Vietnamiana. His scope is mind-boggling, from training in Hawaii through a transit by ship and across two tours “in country”. There are other books describing in detail, for example, the structure and operation of the ubiquitous UH-1e “Huey” helicopter or the business of using heavy artillery to support troops in contact. But there are no other books drilling down so far as to reveal the second most important item in the infantryman’s personal equipment: the tiny and marvelous P-38 can opener we all wore on a chain around our necks with our dog tags, and without which we would have starved. The richness of Birdsong’s prose is amplified by copious and informative photographs, map reproductions, and even copies of original orders and unit diary entries. Fittingly, and sobering, he ends with a section on the aftermath of war, stories of how families struggled to cope with the loss of so many fathers, brothers, husbands and sons, a fitting way to end a war story. I did not think a book today could add more to all that has been written about Vietnam, but Grady Birdsong has done just that. If you care about the experience of America and Americans in Vietnam, the country’s crux in the last half of the Twentieth Century and crucible in which it was tested, get this book.
~ Don Moore, Lt Mike Co, 3/7
Adelaide, South Australia
To The Sound Of The Guns allows the reader to realize the hardships, complete terror and above all else the bond that exists among men that only they and those who have been in combat can understand. Vietnam Veterans have a saying, “Strangers once, Brothers forever!” Grady, well done, Semper Fi!
~ William Purcell, USMC
Alpha Co, 3rd Platoon
1/1 Hue City-Tet Offensive 1968