The Other Side of the World By Dean Moss
I’ve had The Other Side of the World by Dean Moss on my reading list for quite some time and finally picked it up to give it a try. Now I wished I’d read it earlier because I thoroughly enjoyed it. Here’s why.
Dean Moss served in the Air Force in Vietnam from May 1968 through May 1969 on the U.S. airbase in Nha Trang. Just sixteen days before he departed for the war, he married the love of his life, Barbara. Over the course of Dean’s year in Vietnam, he and Barbara wrote each other every day and saved their letters. Forty years later, they pulled the letters from the attic and read them to each other throughout 2008 and 2009 on the same days they were written. That process sparked an idea – Dean needed to document his service for his family.
Using the letters and supplementing them with historical background, Dean reconstructed his assignment with the 21st Tactical Air Support Squadron in Nha Trang. His book, though, is more than just an historical record. It’s an honest portrayal of Dean’s thoughts and fears, his emotions and perceptions, and his love for Barbara. What I found particularly poignant was the loneliness Dean felt upon arriving in Vietnam. Because he was a replacement Airman, he traveled to Vietnam on his own and instead of support, he found bureaucratic coldness (frigidity might be a better word) all along the way until he finally integrated into his unit. As Dean describes his experiences, you can’t help but think there had to be a better way.
Dean also does a great job of describing what life was like as a junior Airman on an airbase in Vietnam. I felt like I was with him working on the airplanes and sitting next to him when the pilots grabbed him to fly on check flights to make sure the work he’d done was satisfactory. I also could sense his fear during mortar attacks and the enjoyment he got from spending time on the beach or reading a letter from Barbara. I also really appreciated his insight into his supervisors and squadron officers. Anyone in a leadership position, or seeking to enter into one, would do well to take his observations to heart.
The Other Side of the World is quick read and well worth the effort. Best of all, it’s available on Amazon – you can purchase a copy by clicking here.