Publisher: Penmore Press
Formats: Paperback | e-book (Kindle, iBook/Apple, Nook, Kobo)
Pages: 594 pages
The Forgotten are six Americans who did not come home at the end of the Vietnam War. Four – Navy Lieutenants Randy Pulaski and Jeff Richey and Air Force Captain Greg Christiansen and First Lieutenant Karl Kramer were seen captured by their fellow aviators. The other two – Army Captain Ashley Smith and First Lieutenant Hank Cho – were already declared MIA. To the U.S. government, they’re MIA until five years after the war ended when they are declared KIA.
Kept hidden in a remote camp in the jungle near the Laotian/Vietnamese border, their captor – a People’s Army of Vietnam lieutenant colonel – has them converting raw opium into morphine base. His goal: keep them alive and ransom them back to the Americans for millions years after the war ended.
Before she married Randy, Janet Pulaski was an anti-war activist and a member of the Students for A Democratic Society’s Action Wing. After he’s shot down, she’s sent to Cuba by the society to learn a set of deadly skills and makes an interesting life style choice.
It is not until 1982 when the U.S. learns of their existence and two men, one a former POW who committed treason and the other is a CIA operative. Both want the POWs dead. Their existence could send the CIA case officer to jail and former POW to the hangman.
Sample Passages from Forgotten
Taken from the PROLOGUE: REVOLUTIONARY ACTION
Wednesday, March 29, 1967, 2346 local time, Northbrook, IL
The blacked-out sedan slid to a stop outside the storefront with the four service logos that indicated it was a U.S. Armed Forces Recruiting Station. The car’s passenger guessed the desk light was left on by accident by one of the recruiters when he left for the day.
Despite the all black attire, a passerby would have easily identified the figure as a woman. She had a mason jar in each hand and a brick under her armpit. Each jar had a rag sticking out of the lid and was carefully put down on the cement. The woman stopped about five feet from the large picture window where the light from inside the recruiting station faded out and the shadows began.
She hurled the brick underhand like a softball pitcher. The plate glass window made a satisfying crack before the shattering glass left a gaping hole. With a butane lighter, the woman lit the first mason jar and lobbed it into the recruiting center. It shattered on one of the steel desks, spreading an exploding mixture of soap and gasoline.
The second jar landed to the left of where the first one hit. By the time the woman got back in the car, the recruiting station was a blazing inferno.
Fifteen minutes later, the stolen Ford Fairlane slid to a stop in a shopping mall parking lot, well away from the stores. In one practiced movement, the bomber pulled a .45 caliber pistol out of a shoulder holster and put it to the temple of the driver. Brain, blood and bone splattered the driver’s side window.
Satisfied, the bomber (and now the shooter), walked across the lot to another car, a steel gray Volvo 123S with red leather seats, unlocked it, and drove away. It took her two hours to get back to the University of Wisconsin’s Madison campus. Once inside her studio apartment, the driver dialed a fellow student’s number from heart. She knew he was a night owl.
“Bill, it’s Julia. Want to fuck?”
“Yeah, now. I need a good fucking.”
“Be right over.”
Around four in the morning, Julia ushered the young man out of her apartment. He couldn’t get it up a third time and therefore was of no further use. She masturbated until she had another orgasm before falling asleep.
After her alarm went off at seven, Julia watched a breathless TV commentator’s top of the hour story on the firebombing of a military recruiting station in Northbrook, Illinois. His report said two Marines sergeants, both Vietnam veterans, were burned to death. He noted fire department investigators said the fire was started by a “napalm like” mixture and a communiqué released by the Revolutionary Wing of the Students for a Democratic Society claimed responsibility. The organization, he reported, was opposed to the war in Vietnam and wanted to turn the United States into a socialist country.
In another story later in the Chicago station’s broadcast, the news- caster’s partner noted that a young female was found shot to death in a mall parking lot in Deerfield. The police didn’t have any suspects in either the fire or the murder.
Satisfied with her night’s work, Julia Amy Lucas turned off the TV. She just turned twenty-one and this was her first act as a member of the Revolutionary Wing of the Students for A Democratic Society. What surprised her was how much she liked it.
Taken from Chapter 7 – NEVER, NEVER LAND
Tuesday, December 21, 1971, 1228 local time, Miami
When Janet pulled into the parking garage, a British Racing Green Austin Healey 3000 sat in the space she’d marked off with the pylons that were nowhere to be seen. The sports car had its top down and the black tonneau cover was unzipped so that one could see the tan leather interior. Janet hoped the owner wouldn’t be long. While she could take the shot from next to the Austin Healey, the corner spot gave her a wider field of view. Janet sat on the concrete wall with her back to a pillar, reading an English translation of Monique Wittig’s Les Guérillères. From her perch, she could look over her book and watch who came and went from the office building where Flores had his office.
She bought the novel in a used bookstore when Helen and she were in Venice, California. Les Guérillères’ heroes are lesbians fighting bloody battles as they try to overthrow a patriarchal, male dominated world and create their own country. Wittig’s odd combination of prose and poetry made Les Guérillères a hard read.
Footsteps echoing in the nearby stairwell made Janet look up. A young man wearing a white dress shirt with the top three buttons undone, black slacks, and a pair of tan, deerskin loafers and no socks emerged and came toward the Healey, keys in hand.
Janet smiled at the six-foot tall man with dark hair and now she could see, dark eyes. “Nice car.”
“Thanks. It’s a ’65 Mark II I bought new. It is my baby!”
Janet, who was wearing tan shorts and a pink golf shirt, shifted her position. “I’ll bet it is fast and fun to drive.”
“It is. Want to take a ride?”
“No thanks. I’m waiting for someone.”
“I’ll take you around the block and I can have you back in ten minutes.”
Janet shook her head. He had one foot in the car and one foot on the concrete. Both hands were on the top of the windscreen and Janet could see he wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. Neither was she. “Are you waiting for a he or a she?”
“A he.” It wasn’t a lie.
“Oh well.” The man got in the car, started, and blipped the throttle as he drove off.
Janet waited until she watched the car accelerate down the street before she moved the Bel Air into the corner spot. It was eleven-thirty.
For the umpteenth time, she checked the rifle in her lap. With the driver’s window down, all she had to do was lift it into position on the door sill, aim, and squeeze the trigger. By holding gauze over the scope’s front lens with two thick rubber bands, she eliminated any chance someone would see a reflection.
Janet finished a bottle of water and tossed it onto the back seat. A series of loud hammering noises startled her. She hopped out of the car and peered over the concrete wall. Two men were attacking the pavement with jackhammers. The first word that came to her mind was perfect!
She figured that as a Cuban, Flores probably wouldn’t head for lunch until after twelve. Just as she guessed, Flores appeared in the center of the scope just after 1230. When the Cuban stopped to put a cigarette into his mouth, she forced the air out of her lungs and squeezed the trigger. Both the cigarette and the lighter went flying as the 198 grain, eight millimeter bullet tore Flores’ chest open.
One security guard drew his pistol and looked around while the other pulled Flores inside. Through the scope, she was sure they were dragging a corpse.
The rifle went on the floor and Janet drove out of the garage at a normal speed, paid for her parking, and headed north to Fort Lauderdale. The receipt on the parking ticket said it was 1234. She had a seat on an American flight to Dallas that left at four-thirty and a connection on the last flight of the day to LA.
At each stoplight, Janet completed another step in field stripping the rifle. She stopped at one gas station to get something to drink and dropped the duffel bag with the stock and the barrel into a large dumpster.
A mile or so later, she pulled into a McDonalds, bought a drink and a hamburger, and then dumped the suppressor and the remains of the food into the trash. By the time she neared the rental car facility, both the Makarov and the Mauser were in bits and pieces in trashcans and dumpsters.
Eleven hours after Janet ended Javier Flores’ life, she walked into the Los Angeles Airport Marriott Hotel. On the first flight, she was nervous and buried her nose in Les Guérillères. On the flight from Dallas Love Field to LA, she was more relaxed and managed to doze.
In the quiet of her hotel room, Janet lay down on the bed and started to masturbate. As her finger began to do its work, she wondered where Helen was when she really needed her.
When the first major orgasm came, it was intense. It was better than when Randy and she came together. It was almost as good as what she experienced with Helen. Before she fell asleep, Janet realized two things.
One, she really liked killing people.
Two, she was no longer bi. She was a lesbian who may occasionally have sex with a man.
Taken from Chapter 7 – NEVER NEVER LAND
Wednesday, December 22, 1971, 1122 local time, North Vietnam
The set-up was the same. A table and a chair in a concrete walled room and three inch diameter bamboo pole under his armpits. It had been several months since Heckle and Jeckle had ‘poled’ Randy and the time gap did nothing to lessen the pain.
His new slim and trim interrogator must have studied Western military manuals. Every move he made was done with practiced precision as if he was a student at one of the U.S. military academies. He was dubbed Captain Ringknocker when he executed an exaggerated about face in front of all six Americans that would have made Charlie Chaplin smile.
When he twisted the pole, it sent lightning bolts of pain through his upper torso and Randy screamed in pain. Twice he thought they were going to break his back before he passed out. A bucket of cold water brought him back.
As his vision cleared from the eye watering pain, Captain Ringknocker was in his face.
Question — “How did you escape?” Answer — we found a hole in the fence after the camp was bombed and walked out. Lieutenant Colonel Pham’s men had left.
Question — “Who was Lieutenant Colonel Cao?” Answer — I don’t know other than he sold us to Lieutenant Colonel Pham.
Question — “What happened to Colonel Duong and his men?” Answer — They were killed by American bombs when the convoy was on the road north.
Question —“How many Vietnamese soldiers did you kill?” Answer — None.
Question—“Where is Lieutenant Colonel Pham’s camp?” Answer — I don’t know. All we have is a guess based on the map we used.
Question — “How do you know he was making morphine base?” Answer — Because he told us that’s what we were making.
Question — “Are you telling me that a lieutenant colonel in the People’s Army is a drug dealer?” Answer — Yes.
The one word answer “yes” got him two blows from rifle butts. The questions were repeated and each time he gave the same answer. Then more questions and more rifle blows.
If Captain Ringknocker didn’t like the answer, you got a rifle butt slammed into your body. Randy let the mask of pain take over. There was nothing he could do to stop it, so he just endured.
Suddenly, the two guards untied Randy from the chair and lifted him by the bamboo pole. His battered legs couldn’t keep up so the guards dragged him back to the cell. It did give him a chance to look down and smile to himself as he let his bladder go and could see the trail of pee leaking from his soaked clothes. The good news was he wasn’t leaving a trail of blood.
When the guards shoved him into the cell, he fell forward and pulled himself into a sitting position next to Jeff Ritchey. His fellow Naval Aviator’s eyes were swollen shut.
Ritchey touched Randy’s shoulder. “When we’re all back together, we can debrief.”
Randy shifted, trying to find a comfortable position. There was none. “Yeah. Good idea.”
Their cell had only one bench that was supposed to be a bed. If four of them scrunched their shoulders, they might be able to sit side by side on it. At one end, a steel door with a grating allowed the guard to watch them. In the corner of the concrete room was a small porcelain toilet without a seat and in the center of the floor was a grating covering a drain.
The eight by ten foot rectangular cell had two sources of light—a single incandescent bulb attached to the fixture in the center of the ceiling that was never turned off and a ten-inch tall window that ran almost the entire width of the cell on the wall opposite the door. It had no glass, just steel bars every six inches.
The smell of the sea came through the window and mixed with the scent of dirty, unwashed bodies. Each guard who brought what might be called a meal wrinkled his nose at the ripe, pungent smell that came from body odor, pee, and feces and from walking through farmer’s fields fertilized with manure.
Smelling the sea was a depressing reminder of how close they came. The trucks that carried them to their current prison covered what could have been the last few miles of their hike. As they passed through the center of Vinh, Randy saw the Gulf of Tonkin. Close, but no cigar! Uncertainty about their future was worse than the prospect of more torture. They knew their bodies would give out before their minds gave in. It was a simple battle of wills. What they needed was a ray of hope that might ensure their survival. For twenty days, despite the lack of food, the constant fear of being recaptured, and the physical effort of walking, they were free men. They had a goal — get to the coast, find a boat, and escape. The pain of not making it to the gulf was worse than the torture.
One by one, the men were brought back into the cell. Hank Cho was dumped on top of Greg Christiansen. Karl Kramer came back looking like he had been the loser in a boxing match. Ashley was shoved into the cell with such force that he slammed into the back wall and collapsed in a heap.
Ashley rested his head on Randy’s thigh and its weight on his sore muscles caused him to wince. He took a deep breath as he waited for the pain to subside and said out loud, “Captain Smith, as the executive officer of Pham’s Phucking POWs, I can report that we are all present and accounted for. Our material condition is battered, but not broken. We will survive.”
He looked around the room and heard a few painful chuckles along with a smile or two.
Ashley moaned as he lifted himself onto one elbow. “Lieutenant, every day we are alive, it is a moral victory over these bastards.”
No one knew how long the Americans sat or sprawled where they were. When Randy helped Ashley stand up so he could take a piss, both men were surprised they could stand without leaning against the wall. One by one, they began to move their battered bodies.
Jeff Ritchey looked up at the two men. “Gentlemen, have no fear; we will survive. It is in the cards.”
Randy looked at Jeff ’s face. One of his eyes was still swollen shut and dried blood was below his nose. “How come you are so sure?”
“Because I am the third Ritchey who was a POW. My great, great, great whatever number of greats it is, graduated from West Point in 1855 and was a major in the First Regiment, Alabama Volunteer Cavalry when he was wounded at the Battle of Chickamauga in Tennessee and captured. He was taken to a Yankee POW camp on Johnson’s Island in Sandusky Bay on the southern shore of Lake Erie. If you never have been there, it is roughly halfway between Toledo and Cleveland. Anyway, he came back to his home in Alabama.”
Ritchey pushed himself into a sitting position and wiped the blood off his face with his right sleeve. “Then there was my father. On his tenth mission, my dad’s B-17 took a flak burst that caused it to start losing fuel just before an ME-109 pumped it full of twenty-millimeter cannon shells. When the left wing caught on fire, my dad ordered everyone
to bail out. His unit, the 100th Bomb Group lost nine B-17s — that’s 90 men—on the first mission to bomb the Messerschmitt factory in Regensburg, Germany. Anyway, nine of the ten men got out before the plane exploded. My dad spent the rest of the war in Stalag V-A outside Ludwigsburg.”
Randy eased himself down on the floor. “Does your wife know all this?”
“Oh yeah.” His nose was still seeping blood. “Jessica was due last month, so I am assuming I am a father by now. In a letter, she said she thinks it is a boy. When I get back, I will have to introduce myself to a child who doesn’t know me. That’s what keeps me going. I want to see my kid.”
Each man turned toward the door when the latch banged open. They heard voices outside and Hank Cho, who was closest, whispered a translation. “We’re being handcuffed and brought before some bigwig.”
When the door was opened, two soldiers, each with an AK-47 held ready, came in and stood up against the wall on either side of the door. Another soldier came in holding his arms out and his hands together. The Americans all knew what this meant — handcuffs. Once handcuffed, a rope with a slipknot was looped around each man’s neck and tightened so that the wearer could feel the pressure on his throat.
A rifle butt in Ashley’s back propelled him out the door. Neither Randy, who was second in line nor the others, needed any encouragement. Each was hit as they left the jail cell and the blows added more bruises to the ones they already had.
In the larger room, they were pushed into a line against the wall. Four soldiers and their AK-47s remained in the room—two behind the table in front of them and one on either side.
The four North Vietnamese soldiers’ heels came together but their rifles remained pointed at the Americans as the door opened. An older man, wearing a clean uniform with red-bordered shoulder boards with four gold stars in a row and two gold bars crossways on the insignia entered. Behind him, Captain Ringknocker marched in carrying a folder in his left hand and pressed against his mid-section in a precise, military manner.
Randy had learned enough from Ashley about North Vietnamese army ranks to know the stocky, even pudgy—some might say well fed — older man was wearing the insignia of a senior colonel. He was the equivalent of a U.S. rear admiral or brigadier general. Captain Ringknocker looked like most of the other Vietnamese he’d seen — thin, wiry and about five foot four.
Captain Ringknocker placed the folder in front of the senior colonel as he sat down and stepped back in a precise military manner so that he was just behind the senior officer’s right shoulder. He came to attention with the stomping of both feet in what Randy thought was a humorous attempt to mimic a Nazi storm trooper.
The North Vietnamese captain spoke in a reedy and high-pitched voice. “Americans, come to attention. Show respect for a senior officer.”
Ashley spoke in his best parade ground voice. “Americans, attention.”
He waited a few seconds. “Dress right…Dress.” Each officer ignored the pain from their latest beating and put his left hand on his left hip with his elbow bent precisely at ninety degrees. At the same time, each POW turned his head so his chin was aligned with his right shoulder.
Ashley waited until they were perfectly aligned with left elbows touching the right elbow of the man next to him, he commanded.
“Ready…Front.” All six heads snapped around to face front and their hands dropped in unison so their thumbs were aligned with where the seam of their trousers would be.
All six were standing at attention in a line that would make any U.S. Marine drill instructor proud. Randy forced himself not to smile. Good move, Ashley. Fuck you, Captain Ringknocker!
The senior colonel crossed his arms and spoke in rapid Vietnamese. Captain Ringknocker bent over slightly as he listened. Then he faced the Americans. “Senior Colonel Đàm Quang Trung of the Vietnam People’s Army thinks you are saboteurs, not prisoners of war because you are not wearing the uniform of the American Army. Therefore, you are war criminals and will be tried as such. In the Democratic People’s Republic of Vietnam, the punishment is death.”
Ashley spoke. “We are prisoners of war. We were being held in a camp and were supposedly being transferred to a prison in Hanoi. The camp where we were being kept got bombed and the guards left, so we took the opportunity to escape. It is our duty.”
After his words were translated, the colonel opened the folder and flipped through the pages before laying them out. He then rearranged them. Randy was sure that he was putting them in the same order in which they were standing.
The chubby senior colonel turned to the captain and spoke. Captain Ringknocker nodded every few seconds and then turned to the Americans. “Senior Colonel Trung has checked with Hanoi. They do not have any record of any one of you being captured. That is why he thinks you are commandos who failed in your mission. He thinks you were sent here in another raid to rescue your fellow prisoners of war. Where are your insignia, your identity tags?”
“They were taken from us when we were captured.” The senior colonel did not wait for a translation. Instead, he spoke to Captain Ringknocker, who bowed slightly before clicking his heels and turning to the Americans. “Senior Colonel Trung says each of you tells the same story from the point where you were all being transported to Hanoi. You use different words, but all say the same thing. Either you have rehearsed this, or it may be true. Senior Colonel Trung has checked with Hanoi and yes, a Colonel Duong was killed in an attack on a convoy. Lieutenant Colonel Cao’s unit was reported wiped out
while headed to a new assignment. That part of your story is true. Senior Colonel Trung wants to know where Lieutenant Colonel Pham’s camp is located?”
Ashley responded. “Give me our map, and I can show you. It will be an educated guess.”
Captain Ringknocker translated and the senior colonel nodded and said something to a guard who ran into the hall. The Americans could hear shouting in the corridor. Nothing was said until a soldier came in carrying the map they had used on their trek and was spread out on the table.
Pointing first at Ashley and then at the map, the captain spoke. “You. Show me the camp.”
The Green Beret bent over the map and looked at it intently. What he was really doing was looking at the row of papers in front of the senior colonel. “Here, this is where we were held.”
The senior colonel looked down and spoke one word. Ashley knew what he said. “Impossible.”
Captain Ringknocker looked Randy in the eye and raised his fist. “You are lying. There are no People’s Army camps up there.” Before he could strike, the Senior Colonel shouted a command and Captain Ringknocker lowered his fist.
“Yes there are. We spent several months there.” Randy tapped the map again. “At this road intersection, the Americans bombed it and killed many of your men. We walked past it. It is probably fifteen or twenty kilometers west from the intersection.”
Captain Ringknocker translated. When he finished, the senior colonel sat back in his chair. “Ahhhh, Lieutenant Colonel Pham.” There was another exchange in Vietnamese while Ashley stood at attention in front of the table. The senior colonel waved his hand to tell Ashley to go back to the other Americans. The West Point graduate did a precise about face, marched back, and completed another about face to resume his place in line.
Senior Colonel Trung spoke softly to Captain Ringknocker with his back to the Americans after he stood up. The other Vietnamese soldiers came to attention as the senior colonel exited.
Captain Ringknocker made precise, square corners as he marched around the table and again, stomped his feet as he came to attention in front of the Americans. With a precise movement, he clasped his hands behind his back with his arms bent ninety degrees at the elbows. In the U.S. military, the position was known as parade rest. “Senior Colonel Trung is the commander of the Fourth Military District and has ordered me to ensure that you are given a shower and razors to clean up.
Your clothes are to be washed and you will be moved to a cell that has beds. When you are clean, you will be fed. This is following the policy outlined in the November 29, 1969 Politburo Resolution No. 194 of the Democratic People’s Republic of Vietnam in how we treat our prisoners of war. This will continue until he hears from Hanoi on what to do with you. Senior Colonel Trung has told me to warn you that any attempt to escape will be dealt with very harshly.”
Captain Ringknocker, pivoted to the right, slammed his boot into the concreted floor as he finished his turn and barked a command at the soldier at the door.
Taken from Chapter 11 – ACCIDENTS HAPPEN
Wednesday, February 28, 1973, 1306 local time, Alexandria, VA
The pictures were laid out in a row of pyramids on the stainless steel table in the photo interpretation center in the Defense Intelligence Agency headquarters. On top was the original photo with a white box labeled “POW camp.” The next row had the first set up of blow-ups with items of interest highlighted in white boxes. The third row had further enlargements of each item of interest in which the film’s grain was beginning to show. Another white lined box in the lower right hand corner containing the day, date, time and photo platform by which the original photo was taken was noted along with the classification of the picture. All were marked Top Secret.
Next to the photos, the photo interpreter had plotted the exact location of the top photo on a Tactical Pilotage Chart J-11D that covered most of North Vietnam. The chart’s large thirty-eight by fifty eight inch size and scale (one inch on the map equaled 500,000 inches of terrain) allowed map makers to accurately mark elevation changes, location of small roads and towns and other geophysical data that enabled the viewer to visualize the terrain being studied.
“Attention on deck.” The photo interpreter, a petty officer first class, his shift leader a chief petty officer and his section leader, a lieutenant, all wearing dress blues came to attention as the Chief of Naval Operations followed by the Chief of Naval Intelligence entered the room.
“Good afternoon, gentlemen.” CNO walked right to the table and turned to the officer. “Lieutenant Hendricks, what is so interesting that I had to come over to take a look?
The lieutenant stepped forward. “Admiral, sir. What you are seeing is a sample of what we found. Each pyramid has photos of the same camp in North Vietnam taken every month over the past two years.
These were selected because they clearly show what we think is a location with American POWs who are still alive.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes sir, I am. And, I would bet my life on it.”
“Those are pretty strong words, Lieutenant. Prove it.”
The petty officer handed the Chief of Naval Operations a photo from the second row of the closest pyramid. “Sir, look at the letters. This one was taken about a month ago. It clearly shows the letters N and M and the numbers 310 along with the letters N and F with the numbers 302.” The petty officer pointed to the second pyramid. “Then, a month later, the same area had SE 04.”
The admiral looked at the photos. “Interesting. Very interesting.”
Hendricks spoke up. “Sir, Petty Officer Gastonbury looked up the tail numbers of planes that were shot down. NM is Power House 310 that went down on October 22, 1970. The pilot of the A-7 was Lieutenant Randall Pulaski. SE 04 turned out to be Misty 04. The pilot First Lieutenant Greg Christiansen is MIA and his back seater—Jim Robbins — was rescued. NM 302 gave us some problems, but it turned out to be Beefeater 302 that was an A-4 flown by Lieutenant Jeffrey Ritchey. All these guys landed alive and were known to be taken prisoner.”
The admiral rested his knuckles on the table and studied the pictures for a few seconds. He turned to the young intelligence officer. “So, Lieutenant Hendricks, you think these guys are still alive and being held by the North Vietnamese.”
“Yes sir, I do. Here’s another reason why. Over time, the modex numbers changed. We have one more to decipher that is NF 515. We know it is not an A-6 so we’re looking at Air Force records. We’re pretty sure it is Nail 515 that went down in 1970. We know there was a rescue attempt but we’re still waiting on the details.”
“Who else have you shown the material to?”
“No one, sir.” The lieutenant nodded to the rear admiral. “The head of the photo interpretation unit took it to our boss and he brought it to you.”
“Lieutenant Hendricks, get all your facts together and then put together a bullet proof briefing that supports your analysis. Make sure you can show the history. How long will it take?”
“Sir, I’d like a week.”
“Lieutenant, I have a meeting with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs on Monday afternoon. I need it by then. Can you do it?”
“Yes sir. It will be on your desk Monday morning.”
“No, Lieutenant, I want you in my office on Monday morning with the briefing, ready to take me through it. Then, you get to deliver it to the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
THE AVIATOR, Magazine of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilot’s Association
March/April 2017 Issue 36-02
“This book is a page turner full of intrigue, taking the reader inside a dark world of protesters, sex, weapons violence, big money, drugs, shady characters, covert operations and cover-ups. While Liebman ties up some loose ends from his earlier novels, he leaves an opening for more of Josh Haman adventures.” READ MORE »
The VVA Veteran: Books in Review II
March 19, 2017
“This is a giant whopper of a sex thriller with violence and bloodshed on most pages, along with that nymphomanical ex-antiwar activist turned assassin. If you love books like this, it’s the one is for you. It is predictable, however, as I was not surprised when Janet, the hit woman, was contracted to kill her own husband. Forgotten is well written and held this reader’s attention throughout.” READ MORE »
Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews and Award Contest
Reviewed by Anne-Marie Reynolds for Reader’s Favorite
Forgotten by Marc Liebman is a military thriller. When the Vietnam war ended, the American POWs were sent home – all except for six. These men were never listed as being POWs and were never listed as being MIA. Instead, they were kept captive by Pham, an NVA Lieutenant Colonel. He put them to work in his heroin factory with one goal in mind – to use the men as a ransom for millions of dollars. Janet is the wife of one of the prisoners, an anti-war activist who became an assassin, paid handsomely for the high-value targets she takes on. The six prisoners are declared dead in 1978, but in 1982, their existence comes to the attention of the US and they are rescued. Two men don’t want anyone to know what their role was and they want all six dead. What the prisoners know will spell long prison sentences for these men, a CIA operative and a former POW, so they hire Janet to take them out. But one of those prisoners is her husband. Will Janet do it or are the two men about to get a nasty surprise?
Forgotten by Marc Liebman is a great read. It’s one of those stories that grabs hold on page 1 and takes you on a rollercoaster ride. The plot is amazing, something quite unique, and is full of twists and turns. Mr. Liebman has mastered the art of writing an attention-grabbing story perfectly and, although this is a fictional tale, you kind of feel that it isn’t, that it’s being written from a personal point of view, from someone who was there. The character development is excellent, bringing the main characters to life in an instant, giving them substance and personality. Overall, an excellent story, well-written and perfect for fans of military tales, be they fact or fiction.
Reviewed By Christian Sia for Readers’ Favorite
A gripping military book, Forgotten by Marc Liebman is an unforgettable story featuring six men – two Naval Aviators (Randy Pulaski and Jeff Richey) and two Air Force pilots (Karl Kramer and Greg Christiansen who were shot down and known to be captured and two Green Berets – Captain Ashley Smith and First Lieutenant Hank Cho – are thought to have disappeared. All are slaving under one of the top colonels from the People’s Army of Vietnam, transforming opium to morphine while waiting for the time when their captor would exchange them for a huge ransom. Meanwhile, a woman, whose husband is among the six American soldiers who never returned home, still hopes against all hope that her husband is alive. When news finally gets out, years later, that these men are alive, Janet Pulaski gets worried about her husband, Navy Lieutenant Randy Pulaski, who may be targeted by two men who don’t want them alive. One is in the CIA who is afraid that his past misdeeds ay be uncovered. The other is a former POW whose traitorous collaboration was witnessed by Pulaksi who wants him court martialed. If found guilty, he will get sent to the hangman.
Marc Liebman has a great gift for both plot and character development. The story begins in the midst of action and the reader can feel the adrenaline. But it’s just the beginning and the whole story is punctuated with intense action and powerful scenes. The setting reflects historical and physical places that soldiers, especially those who have served in Vietnam, will be familiar with. Well-written, this is a book from a new author that features such elegant prose and detailed, absorbing descriptions of scenes and characters. Janet Pulaski is a character who won my heart from the start and it was interesting to see how she developed throughout the story. Forgotten is a masterpiece, a well-written story with great characters and a not-so-easy-to-put-down kind of plot.
Reviewed By Romuald Dzemo for Readers’ Favorite
Forgotten by Marc Liebman is a brilliant entry in the military genre, a story that explores the mystery of six American soldiers presumed dead during the Vietnam War and a woman’s undying love for her husband. After the war, Navy Lieutenant Randy Pulaski, Navy Lieutenant Jeff Richey, Air Force Captain Greg Christiansen, and First Lieutenant Karl Kramer were known to have been captured while Army Captain Ashley Smith and First Lieutenant Hank Cho were considered completely missing.
What most people never imagined was that these heroes had been captured and were being used by a People’s Army of Vietnam lieutenant colonel, converting new opium into morphine. Years later, the US government will learn of their existence. But there won’t be the chance of a hero’s welcome home. With the prospect that her husband, Randy, could be killed by a former POW turned collaborator, Janet Pulaski has to make serious choices and use her skills to protect him.
The first thing that struck me about this novel is the author’s writing — crisp and excellent. The sentences are tight and the diction is overflowing with words that make the reader imagine the action and the setting of the novel. The historical setting is beautifully explored. Marc Liebman has written a military fiction that makes readers think he was one of the characters in the story, and readers will be pleased with the wonderful use of military language. Here is a story that is so beautifully written it will have fans of this genre utterly enthralled. I enjoyed the wonderful cast of characters and the compelling plot. Forgotten is a great read, indeed!
Reviewed By Ray Simmons for Readers’ Favorite
I’m not sure if the name of this novel is Forgotten or Forgotten POWs. I saw both names used. I personally like just plain Forgotten. It somehow feels stronger. Anyway, I liked this novel about the war in Vietnam by Marc Liebman. Surprisingly, what I think I liked most was how well the wives and other women of the era were represented. Janet is every bit as strong and interesting as her captured husband, Randy. The Vietnam era was a very complex time politically for the United States and the complicated characters Marc Liebman gives us in Forgotten represent that complexity well. I came of age in the ’70s and there was a lot of disagreement about the war, even among friends.
I like the way Marc Liebman shows us two tracks that are uniquely connected. I like the way the tracks are connected. The first track is the actual captured POWs. They went through hell and are understandably the heroes of the story. Randy is such a hero and I related with him immediately. I expected this. It is what I was looking for when I chose the book. The second story arc is the one that surprised me, and I believe every good book has a good surprise in it. Randy’s wife, Janet, was so cool and delightful! I loved this Navy wife. She is so practical about her situation, but finds interesting ways to spend her time, as well as some interesting people to spend it with. I think her story, combined with her husband’s, is what makes Forgotten great.
Reviewed By Ruffina Oserio for Readers’ Favorite
Military fiction isn’t one of my favorite genres, but when I read the blurb of this book, it sounded irresistible and I picked the book up out of sheer curiosity. I am glad I did because Forgotten by Marc Liebman turned out to be a really good read with great characters and a wonderful plot line. Imagine men who could have been celebrated as heroes being completely Forgotten, laboring as slaves under a ruthless military colonel for years, and doing what? Making morphine from opium, in a very secluded area, far away on the Vietnamese borders. This is the lot of six American men who never returned from Vietnam. After many years, news gets out about their existence and, feeling the threat that hangs over her husband’s head, a woman has to find a way, the only one she knows, to protect the love of her life.
Forgotten is a highly creative work and I found it intriguing from the title, to plot, to character development, and the masterful integration of literary elements such as suspense, contrast, and conflict. I was hooked from the very beginning of the story and knew I would have to read this one to the end. Yes, I was hooked with the great writing — polished and beautiful. Marc Liebman writes with confidence and the reader has no doubt that he masters the military world so well — or he must have done his research thoroughly. I enjoyed the well-developed characters who find themselves in a powerful conflict, especially the couple, Janet and Navy Lieutenant Randy Pulaski. This is an engrossingly entertaining story with relevant historical references. A must-read for fans of military fiction.
I read a lot of action and thriller books, so this is a genre I’m familiar with. I’d never read anything from Marc Liebman, but the premise seemed intriguing and I’m always on the lookout for fresh new talent, so I was curious to see how he would deliver in this one “Forgotten”. Mr. Liebman is unarguably a very talented and creative writer, but more than that he genuinely impressed me with his thorough world-building and interesting characters and inventiveness on many levels. Great detailing gives this story authenticity on many levels. We genuinely feel transported into this complex, epic tale from the brutal, violent warzones and POW camp, to Julia/Janet’s sexy and dangerous ‘activities’. And speaking of sex there is plenty here and it is very hot! All too often I read works that feel clearly derivative of other books (especially in erotica), and although I appreciate literary influences (as is felt here as well), when something this original comes along it is a refreshing change of pace from the norm! It wasn’t predictable or cliché, and sometimes it was cutthroat and harsh, and other times I was nearly breathless from the intensity and violent passion. Other times I was chuckling aloud at the witty banter. For such a long book I finished it in less than a week, and went through so many highs and lows, it felt like a rollercoaster. I enjoyed the ending and was actually hoping that this might be the beginning of a series but this appears to standalone novel. Wraps up well and the glossary at the end is handy too. Actually feel like I learned something! I recommend it for adults only as it has graphic language, violence and sex scenes, but they work well with the storyline and do not feel gratuitous. (5 stars) Leo Gregory—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers
I really enjoyed “Forgotten” by author Marc Liebman, even though ‘erotica’ isn’t usually one of my more preferred genres (don’t dislike it, just don’t generally gravitate). But I liked the sample and the style of Mr. Liebman’s writing…. This felt more like a unique character drama with heavy thriller/erotica elements to me than anything, so I gave it a shot. I was really impressed! I really liked the world he created here and thought that he did such a wonderful job with the descriptions of the storytelling of the events and the different characters – all felt very genuine, like he’d done his research (his bio indicates his military service and it definitely shows). We see the story unfold through different characters perspectives – From Randy, the captured POW in Vietnam to his wife back home, “Janet’, the lesbian assassin with quite the spicy sex life and it covers the span of several years. I thought the main characters were very well done, but some of the supporting cast felt a bit thin, and I did question the need to have such a focus on Janet’s sex life, but I think that is for the ‘sex appeal’ of the book. But there was great action, and was so shocked at some things that happened. Emotionally engaging and with lots of intelligent military/political action. The story bounces around from different locations but each chapter is clearly labeled, which helps. It is very long and I think it could have benefitted from some trimming at times, but I liked how easy it is to read and this is such an unusual book I can’t even compare it to anything else. Some harsh language, violence and graphic sexual situations. So best suited for adults only. (4 stars) Jhonnie Parker—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers
This book was great… lots of fun to read and very sexy. Describing it is a hard task! All sorts of interesting characters, and a terrific mix of hardcore military/war action, thrilling suspense, romance, intellect, hot sex scenes, high stakes drama, profound and introspective philosophical conversations, life and death situations… you name it! I was totally hooked from the beginning where Liebman wastes no time in getting right to the action (which is great because I hate when books have long ‘setups’!) and keeps our attention the whole way through which is pretty impressive considering the length of this book (nearly 500 pages). I liked that it was so descriptive that we can really put ourselves inside the various characters’ perspectives. Fabulous narrative prose and the dialogue and conversations with the characters were very authentic. Great chemistry and tension throughout, and while there are some upsetting/weird scenes that I didn’t expect, overall I liked the fact that this was really unpredictable and kept me wondering what would happen next. I was also impressed with the near flawless editing – really rare for ebooks these days. Janet is so badass and I liked watching her character evolve. I feel like she should get her own series! The other characters are good too and I like how the author lets us know how everything ends up for them. Recommend for mature fans who want a complex, yet engaging literary read. Firmly in the ‘erotica/thriller’ category, so not suitable for anyone under 18. Looking forward to reading more from Marc Liebman! (4-5 stars) Marcella Gonzales—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers
Fast-paced, well written and extremely creative, “Forgotten” by Marc Liebman is an absolute must-read for fans of military action, thriller/suspense, and erotica. This is pretty much the first book that I’ve read that has these elements, but they work together (and complement each other) perfectly. This novel holds its own with the top-notch writing and plot structure and an exciting, varied cast of ‘colorful’ characters and plenty of intrigue and thrills to go around. There were some times where I felt it could have benefited from some editing, as there were frequent places where there was needless information, scene repetition, or chit chat. Occasionally things happened that I wondered if it was crucial for the plot, of just for the sake of titillation (aka ‘cheap thrills’). However, I feel Marc Leibman did a great job of bringing in a unique voice and making the story wholly his own, and giving it a fresh feel. I certainly didn’t feel like I’ve read this million times before. In fact, I can’t think of anythingI’ve read like it before. This is definitely a “high stakes, action-packed’ thriller because how it is set up, but it also has a softer, more human side that really puts us in the different characters hearts and heads (Janet and Randy) and the others. A great, riveting combination of thrills, suspense, powerful and sexy women, strong men, action and romance… an engrossing story with and a fun cast to take you along for this very interesting and exciting and dangerous ride. Recommend for ages 18+ (4 stars) Stephan Beacher—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers
I honestly had no idea what to expect when reading this as I went into it pretty blind (only read the quick description). I was in no way prepared for how totally addicting this novel would be, and the sheer magnitude of the world, the characters, the multi plots, the steamy sex, and the life-and-death action… I was really impressed! The way Marc Liebman writes is captivating from the beginning and you just want to keep reading and reading and not stop. It is both descriptive and has great world building (important for a believable novel) but also is fast moving so that you aren’t bored. I was reading as fast as I could, and even though it’s a REALLY long book, I was disappointed when it was over. I wanted more!! The detailing is so authentic it really pulls you into the story, for better or worse. But the ending is amazing as is the rest of the book. Recommend for fans of thrillers and suspense and definitely has lots of sex so adults only. (5 stars) Darlene Cupp—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers
Fantastic! Wow what a perfect ending! Actually the whole thing was pretty great, but I don’t think I put my kindle down once after the 60% mark. I almost feel like I just read 5 different books instead of just one – So much happens, it would be impossible to sum up (I don’t do that anyways). This is an impressive effort from author Marc Liebman, and it is quite clear that he is an author we can expect great things from. While this book wasn’t perfect, as I do feel the pacing needed tightening and an editor needed to use the red-pen over many trivial details and some occasional scene repetition, there is the spark of something wonderfully inventive here (rare for this genre!) and the writing felt as natural as it did effortless. You can’t fake or even teach that, in my opinion. Marc Liebman has a natural literary voice, and I could totally see this being a movie (or it should be!) It’s quite intense, and has that big “epic” feel to it which I love, but without all the bloat that can sometimes weigh down books like this. Solid cast of characters that are intelligent, believable, and complex, just like this book. A great read that will appeal to fans of many genres, as it encompasses so many different aspects of literature, not just erotica or action-thrillers. It is most appropriate for adults as there is sex, language, and violent scenes, as to be expected. But a powerful, entertaining read that far surpassed my expectations. Recommend. (4-5 stars.) Carla Biggins—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers