This past spring I carried a book with me into the turkey blind to help pass the time, and the story was so gripping I often found myself hoping a bird would NOT show up. The book is called “Pointman” and is written by Robert “Doc” Owens. I heard about the book because one of my father-in-law’s hunting buddies, Dennis Evenson, served in Vietnam with Doc. I’ve met Dennis many times during the past 15 years, so when my father-in-law gave me the book as a gift, he said, “See if you can figure out which character is based on Dennis.”
You see, while this book is a work of fiction, it’s based on actual events.
Two days ago I had the pleasure of sharing dinner with Doc and Dennis (left and right in photo below), and for 2 hours they captivated me with stories of their experiences in Vietnam. These soft-spoken humble men are true American heroes. Doc, who lives in California, was visiting Dennis’ hometown of Clear Lake, South Dakota, to pursue pheasants and give the keynote speech at the town’s annual Veterans Day ceremony.
Doc Owens served as an U.S. Army medic (hence his nickname) in the Mekong Delta and in the Cambodian invasion with the Ninth Infantry Division. He was awarded the Bronze Star, Combat Medical Badge, and Purple Heart medals. He started writing about his experiences after leaving Vietnam in 1971, and while the story began as a diary, it evolved into its current form through time . . . lots of time.
”I began a diary as a first-person account of what happened in Vietnam,” Doc said, “but I didn’t like having almost every sentence start with ‘I’, so I changed it into a story based on true events with fictional characters. That way I could blend much of what happened to me and our platoon into a story that someone would enjoy reading. I finished much of the book a few years after leaving Vietnam, but then it sat for more than 40 years while I became busy with family and work.”
After his tour of duty, Doc worked as a teacher, school administrator and county superintendent of schools. “Once I retired from working,” Doc said, “I started messing around with the story again, and because of computers, it was a lot easier to modify. When I was happy with the finished product, I started looking to get it published.”
As you can see from the photo of the back cover above (and the pic of Doc from 1970), “Pointman” is the story of one man’s fight for love and survival in a world of drugs and violence. There is conflict among the servicemen, including Sergeant Mike Brooks (the fictional character based on real-life platoon Sergeant Dennis Evenson), trigger-happy and glory-seeking Lieutenant Gomez, and a wide cast of other interesting individuals.
I won’t tell any more of Doc’s amazing story. You’ll simply have to shop Amazon and read the book for yourself.
”And stay tuned for the sequel,” Doc told me as we shook hands goodnight. “I’m almost done with the first draft. It begins right where ‘Pointman’ ends; I think you’ll enjoy it.”
Special note: A heartfelt thank you to Doc, Dennis and the millions of other veterans who have served our country. And thanks, too, to their families for their sacrifices as well.