by Roger Zotti
It took Higganum’s Arthur Witnik, Jr. 36 years and 34 rejections to get “Nam-sense” (Casemate), his superbly written memoir of the Vietnam War, published. Now three years after its publication, it sold out in hard cover. “A few weeks ago, the second printing came out in paperback,” Arthur added. But Arthur wasn’t surprised his memoir took off: “I was confident I had a solid story about what the Vietnam vet had to endure while in the service that resonated with a lot of people. It’s not a story about wallowing in self-pity or atrocities. It’s about being in a war zone, keeping your sense of humor, and trying to survive.”
Reactions from readers about “Nam-sense” are overwhelmingly positive. “Several Vietnam vets wrote to amazon.com,” Arthur said, “and said they remembered some of the events about which I wrote, and that of course gives the incidents added authenticity.” Rob Simmons, a Vietnam veteran and former member of the Connecticut House of Representatives (2000-07), called Arthur’s work “one of the best books I’ve ever read the on Vietnam War,” and Lee Elci of WXLM FM said, “It’s an honest and realistic account… I feel honored to have Arthur as an occasional guest on my radio show and listeners are the better for it.”
Before reading “Nam-sense,” Arthur said, readers should be aware that “it’s not a history lesson, or about tactics or strategy. It’s about day-to-day events. It’s got humor and you meet a lot of people along the way.” Arthur stressed that, “the book’s focus is on surviving. You see, unlike the war we’re in today, where the guys go over in a unit, and they serve together and come back as a unit, we went over as individuals. You didn’t know anybody and you bonded with just a few people. Then you leave. You didn’t have that camaraderie of a unit. For us it was do the time, do what you can to survive, and get back home again.”
Since the book’s publication, Arthur added, “a lot of neat things have happened.” Just over a year ago he was invited to Hollywood and interviewed for the twentieth anniversary of John Irvin’s 1987 film “Hamburger Hill.” Arthur appears in one of DVD’s special features. “It’s called ‘Medics in Vietnam,’” he said. “I wasn’t a medic but that was the segment I was in. They flew me out. We did an interview. The whole thing really lifted my spirits. “ And there’s more: “This past year Scholastic – they do textbooks for high schools – is doing a series on significant American battles and one picked out was Hamburger Hill. So I and two other Hamburger Hill veterans are having our stories told in this history book. It’s available in schools and libraries.”
Visit Arthur’s website, www.namsense.com, for additional information about him, his book, and where to purchase “Nam-sense.” Arthur is available to speak at functions and can be reached at email@example.com.