In the Company of Decent Men

By Andy Horne

“In November 1969, a large raiding force of American Swift Boats enters a deadly waterway of Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, the Bo De River. Unaware of a trap set by a diminished but still powerful force of North Vietnamese Army regulars specially trained for this ambush, the patrol boats enter the river in full battle array. Within minutes one boat is destroyed, another is severely damaged, eight Americans are dead and several are wounded; ninety percent of the NVA force, however, is also erased.

In the aftermath of battle, as American wounded and dead are evacuated, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Commander of all naval forces in Vietnam, summons the raid leader, Commander Edward Lewis Stroud to Saigon.  While flying over the jungle ambush site, the Navy Seawolf helicopter carrying Stroud is shot down and destroyed resulting in two more deaths. Stroud and his second in command of the operation, Lt. Robert Hampton, enter the jungle moving away from the crash site. Later Commander Stroud is captured by the remnant of the NVA force and Hampton, known to his fellow Swift Boat officers as “Pastor Bob,” is killed.

More than thirty-five years later, Stroud, who escaped his captors, is now a United States Senator and recognized hero of the Vietnam War. He seeks to become a Vice-Presidential nominee for his political party, in the upcoming fall elections, perhaps an end-run to the Presidency.

A State Department emissary to the present government of Vietnam concerning lingering POW/MIA issues, David Armstead, a Naval Academy veteran of the war, becomes entangled in allegations about Stroud’s capture and escape.  Fearing another calculated interference by his former adversaries with the American election process, Armstead unravels the truth behind the allegations.”