Chuck Smith, a native of Flint Hill whose parents were very active in the Rappahannock County community, has written and just released his second book, “Vietnam: Stories from a War.”
Smith will be at Quievremont Winery Jan. 13 from 1 to 5 p.m. for a book signing of the collection of ten short stories that take the reader into the everyday lives of American soldiers serving in Vietnam.
According to Smith, who graduated from Rappahannock County High School in 1963 and was drafted in 1966, “These are stories about young Americans caught up in a war they don’t understand, fighting an enemy they couldn’t always identify.
“They are not stories about battle, but are stories of people in trying situations — a wounded warrior patched up and returned to the war zone, another invalided out and back in the world before he’s old enough to vote. These are stories set during that place and time.
“While the stories are my fiction, the characters are not. I have met, spoken to, and shared a beer with each of them. They are soldiers, deserters, truckers, dopers, drinkers, veterans and Teamsters. You’ll find them to be philosophical, erudite, crude, likeable and possibly despicable. Few are identified by their real names and many are a composite of more than one person.”
Smith was drafted into the Army and, as he puts it, “given a free trip to southeast Asia.” He served from 1966-67 in First Logistics Command and 1967-68 in the First Infantry Division, and was in Di-An during the Tet Offensive. While in-country, he was a radio operator and jeep and truck driver.
“Whether it’s a two-war vet who needs medical attention, or a farmer who walks away from basic training, each deserves a level of understanding and respect. War forms or informs us but should not, by itself, define us,” he concludes.
Smith’s first book, “Stories from Potomac County — Truths, Half-Truths, and Lies from Rural Virginia and Someplace Else,” is based on experiences during his upbringing in Rappahannock County. Again, the characters are familiar, but fictionalized.
His father Galley W. Smith, Jr., was in the hardwood lumber business and operated several saw mills in Rappahannock County, and was a long-standing member of the school board. His mother, Eva, an entertaining storyteller herself, was active in an array of community and church activities and retired as deputy clerk of the circuit court. His brother, Galley III, was a high school athlete, obtained a physical education degree at the University of Virginia. and, while in the U.S. Army, was commissioned to coach the British basketball team.
Smith’s cadre of colorful characters have been crowding his brain and competing to get out and on paper for many years. He began writing seriously in 2013 and, after retiring in February 2016 from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, he took it up full time.
According to Smith, his series of occupations — soldier, long-haul Teamster truck driver, radio announcer, broadcast engineer in radio and television, Emmy-nominated sound mixer, and satellite uplink operator for broadcast programming — exposed him to people of diverse backgrounds and interests and have greatly enriched his writing.
Smith is married and, with his wife Sharon and their two dogs, lives in Williamsburg. They have two adult children. In addition to writing, he enjoys his family, their dogs and traveling in the U.S., Great Britain and Canada.
Vietnam: Stories from a War is available in print or as a download through http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/potomaccounty