We were honored to have the opportunity to serve as the editor for Bleeding Spirits: A Combat Soldier’s Memoir of the Vietnam War 1968-1969 — a post-humously published journal by Helena native, beloved teacher, and veteran Bob Jewell.
Synopsis: While working a summer road crew job in Glacier National Park in 1967, Robert Jewell was handed papers drafting him into the Army. Soon he’d find himself in Vietnam, carrying an M-16 at the start of the Tet Offensive. Jewell’s fourteen-month tour exposed him to the horrors and complexities of war and his journey to reconcile these experiences with his civilian life. This memoir is an honest, raw, and moving testament to Jewell’s belief that the events of life “are our teachers.” Jewell would survive the war and become a respected teacher himself, educating generations of youth in Helena, Montana throughout a distinguished career. Written to help himself come to terms with how Vietnam changed him, Bleeding Spirits is a window into the workings of war and its warriors, and an inspirational story of the struggle and beauty involved in the search for a sense of peace.
The book is published by local business Sweetgrass Books and is available online and at various bookstores. We also have some copies in our office; If you knew Bob and would like a copy, please contact us at [email protected].
Excerpt from Aaron Parrett’s book review in Montana Senior News
“He was just a kid—18 or 19—suddenly forced to live for more than a year in a foreign jungle.
He was at the mercy of the U.S. Army and whatever luck emerged from the hell he found himself surrounded by.
About midway through the book, you realize that Jewell undertook the enterprise of writing his memoir as a way of coping with his own PTSD, which he successfully suppressed for almost 20 years.
What makes this book so readable, and so believable, is the author brings the reader along as he sorts through his own fractured memories and his own moments of self-doubt and guilt and terror.
If you want a book that describes the full infantry experience—not just the rigor of boot camp and the horror of war’s inevitable carnage, not just the thrilling excitement of combat, but also the aftermath, the night terrors, the lost memories, the itching shrapnel wounds—you won’t find a more real book.”