Amberlyn Parker

Raw Man Review

History 112 – Meyers

Raw Man is a brutally honest book showing the reality of the Vietnam War and the aftermath of the people involved. It is a glimpse into Fred Rivera’s life during the war, in the battlefield, and on the home front including the good, the bad, and the ugly, but mostly the wildly ugly. This book gives us insight on coping with tragedy and fighting for life and our country through a writing style we can relate to without even being present during this time.

One of the major aspects of war that is really highlighted in this book is how death becomes sort of meaningless while amidst battle and a how a person becomes numb during constant stress and chaos. While writing a letter to his mom, Rivera admits that when a person is shooting at you, you don’t realize it because that is commonplace in the day to day. In response to that, it seems that life is cheap because casualties never cease and there will always be a person to fill a void in need. Rivera’s dear comrade Herman puts this comprehension of life and death into words with the small line on the bottom of page 23; “Same o’ same o’. Lose one nigger, get another. Uncle Sam just keeps ‘em coming.” The value of life by itself was not appreciated in the monstrous setting of the Vietnam War. Value was determined by work done, and enemies killed. An example from Rivera’s life in the jungle that demonstrates this thought is when he brings up Dale Darnel, the hyper weird guy, on page 66. Rivera recaps a night where he was playing cards with fellow soldiers to relax and forget the stressful day and Dale persistently asked for water with no luck. Getting frustrated, Dale pulls the pin to a live grenade and asks for water again. Obviously panicked, the boys beg for him to put the pin back into the grenade but he gave them no break and handed them a live grenade to dismantle before detonation instead. If not properly dismantled, the grenade would have killed them but it was just used as a pawn in a game. This is a near death experience that people genuinely fear for and it was just part of their ordinary day. If the grenade had gone off, they would just be another casualty of war and replaced because the show must go on. This is their outlook on the value of life that is regarded so highly today.

Another one of the major themes that is present throughout this book are ways of coping for people in the war, post-war, and families of the war. During the war, the struggle was evident and multiple methods of ‘clearing the mind’ were used. Rivera, and men just like him, clung to the idea that if there was at least one good thing about Nam, it was the great weed. Smoking was considered a way to get out of ones body for a moment or two after a long day of battle. It was also a ceremony for those that were dear and lost during the daily struggle. A passage from page 73 really sums up the way they feel about coping and drugs and that is, “We talked about Doc Lewis not being with us anymore and we smoked a bowl to him. We smoked a bowl to Bobby Haynes and one for Wayne Saunders. By then we started losing guys, as they had smoked so much weed they were passing out left and right.” Drugs ranging from alcohol to opiates, and probably even worse, were rampant among these men and became a crutch to ease the pain and heartache. Obviously, Vietnam was a very different time but this is a relationship that carries on into today’s society with heavy homeless drug addiction and marijuana becoming legalized. Drugs will remain a societal crutch, always have and always will.

Rivera talks about how coping on the home front required a different approach than abusing substances, although it was practiced as well. With the Vietnam War being publicized through media more than ever before, people could see the horrific events taking place in South East Asia. Citizens supported, and many opposed, returning troops just trying to make it home. Rivera writes about his return where a young woman spat in his face and deemed him a ‘baby killer.’ This woman had no evidence that Rivera was what she had said but the war was a very negative subject to society and anti-war protests were growing rapidly. Groups like Mothers for Peace, Students for a Democratic Society, Black Panther Party, Chicano Anti-War Group, etc. had a very large role in the states at that time. At home, Rivera joins the Vietnam Veterans Against the War to cope with the aftermath that he had found himself in. “I had mixed feelings about taking part in an anti-war demonstration after just over a week of being back in the World. But now that I was home, I could not see any good reason for the war and the killing to continue” (pg. 231).

This notion identifies a new theme in Rivera’s book where the atmosphere of America was changing and there was a new type of war to deal with: anti-war protesters and the law. Rivera talks about the day he joined an action at Griffith Park where the VVAW were throwing their badges, medals, and ribbons they earned into a coffin as an act of defiance. This is day that he realized his war was not over, for the law enforcement of Los Angeles (which he refers to as East L.A.’s occupation army) retaliated against all of the individuals’ involved, whole families and all, for exercising their First Amendment rights. After being beaten, pepper sprayed, kicked, cuffed, and jailed, Rivera gives insight to the protester’s basic concept while talking to his father which is: “there is a war going on right here, in this country, in this community. Until today, I never saw the strength of opposition to the war I just abdicated. I believe the American people can bring an end to this vicious war” (pg. 231). This is a war that didn’t require violence but inherently possessed it because of opposing views on what is right and what is law. The key slogan: struggle is not in Vietnam but in the movement for social justice at home.

When Rivera realized that the war had shifted drastically in the US, he was on the receiving end of brutality. What was supposed to be a Peace Movement guided by the teachings of Martin Luther King and Gandhi, turned into an attack on thousand of non-violent protestors. The war he had helped fight for was now fighting against him and the echoes of Vietnam rang like a bell. The transformation from the beginning of the book to the end, from the ally to the enemy, is the major comparison that needs to be addressed.

Rivera’s writing style makes this book worth the time because he is great at recapping his past in a very fluid manner. The information he chose to include grabbed my attention and made the book hard to put down. I felt as if I was in the jungle myself from all of the detail he provides. He had a way of balancing all of the gruesome, bloodcurdling events that took place during his draft with all the positive insight he took from the war and people around him. By including his own letters his mother kept, the reader is able to look at this era through his eyes and interpretation. This is a way to analyze history that isn’t focused in any textbook. Raw Man would definitely be considered a great read.


You know I said I would help fight bad paper. This is the first salvo hooking up with the Vet Centers around the country and joining in the fray helps my own PTSD.

A Veteran came to my house and said another Veteran came to his house and took him in to file his disability claim. He told my guy that once he got his, he was to go and grab another Veteran and bring him in and I was him. In turn I have brought several people into the VA and told them the same thing.

Next big battle is Bad-Paper.


► Bad-Paper Discharges Impact on Treatment

Veterans groups claim in Federal Court that the military is trying to keep a lid on “bad-paper discharges” it handed tens of thousands of service members who likely suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder before
the medical community recognized that condition. Vietnam Veterans of America and the National Veterans Council for Legal Redress brought the complaint on 4 MAY against the U.S. Department of Defense and
three military branches. They say that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs denies disability compensation and other benefits to veterans who received other-than-honorable (OTH) discharges, but that many who received such “bad-paper discharges” are the tens of thousands of service members suffering from undiagnosed PTSD. PTSD was not recognized as a medical condition until 1980, according to the complaint. While Congress has created internal boards to consider applications by veterans seeking to revise their discharge papers, the veterans say these boards “have collectively failed to prioritize or take seriously discharge upgrade requests from veterans diagnosed with PTSD stemming from military service.” From 1993 to 2014, the Boards for Correction of Military/Naval Records approved fewer than 5 percent of these type of applications from Vietnam veterans, according to the complaint. Crediting a class action they filed last year,
the groups note that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel issued a memorandum in September 2014 that instructed the boards to give veterans with PTSD “liberal consideration.” The groups say they in turn filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act for records showing how the boards adjudicated PTSD related applications before and after Hagel’s so-called “PTSD Upgrade Memo.” Disclosure of these records is essential for the public to assess DOD’s compliance with the directive and
assist veterans seeking to apply for discharge upgrades,” the complaint states, but the government has thus far allegedly failed to provide responsive, non-exempt records within the statutory time period. “Without
information about how DOD, Army, Navy, Air Force, and their respective boards have handled PTSD-related discharge upgrade applications, the public cannot hold these entities accountable for the fair and just 14 treatment of veterans,” the complaint states. The groups note that the records implicate an estimated 80,000 Vietnam veterans, many of whom are elderly, indigent and suffer from medical problems. Without records
showing whether these veterans’ discharges are being reconsidered, the groups say that Hagel’s memo is “merely a symbolic gesture.”
The last communication that the groups had with the Defense Department was on Dec. 29, 2014, when the agency said it was working on the request. The Air Force allegedly urged the groups to narrow the scope
of their request. The Navy told the plaintiffs it was closing the request as duplicative of the one filed with the Defense Department, and the Army declined to process most of the request as “unduly burdensome,”
according to the complaint. The groups say they narrowed their Dec. 8, 2014, requests to the military branches in March and April, but have not received a response. They are represented by Michael Wishnie of the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization. [Source: Courthouse News Service |

Christine Stuart | May 06, 2015

Victor Diaz

Post 3918 Service Officer

Vero Beach, Florida 32962


Okay everybody, I have been doing a blues show every Sunday Evening on 94.9 the Bridge that goes live in the Pacific Northwest but you can catch it on the internet on the site below. I have kept it low key as I have been catching up on new technology with the help of my friends Billy Holder and David Kraklow Jr.. Things have changed since I used to have the Nightcrawler Blues Show on KRTM 13 years ago. This week I finally (I think) found my groove and I invite you all to listen. I get down with some funky shit. You know I got busted two weeks ago by the FCC for saying shit? I love it. Yet another new adventure for a 67 year old man who thought he had done and seen it all.




Fred Rivera 1st and 2nd Place

The San Francisco held Award Ceremony of the International Latino Book Awards this last weekend of June 27 is one of those fantastic memories that will stay etched in the minds of my wife Lynda and mine for the rest of our years. (Baring Dementia) But I believe that somewhere in the folds of my brain, they will remain.

We stayed at the Park 55 18th floor with a beautiful view of the bay and the fireworks after each Giants game. Lynda secured a wheelchair as soon as we arrived and it was to  be my method of transportation back and forth to the Mascone Center where the ALA, American Librarian Association was having a their annual convention. What luck! My publisher Thornton Sully of A Word With You Press took a booth all four days of the convention and on Sunday, after I won the Mariposa Award for Best New Author and placed second as Best Novel, a feat more prestigious than it might sound, as the contest had over 1800 entries and 192 judges and still ranked Raw Man that high.

As he has since my book release party, Victor Villasinor kept close eyes on me and along with Jonathan and Isabelle Friedman, he a Pulitzer Prize winner and both, the most loving and nurturing two people I have met since my first encounter with Thornton Sully who gave me the confidence, and team to make this manuscript at first titled Youth In Asia, into Raw Man, the book that has propelled me into the world of literature.

As I write in the epilogue, “Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day in this country. If this book helps touch one life, it has done it’s job.



I’m sitting here listening to the greatest War song. The Pogues, The Band Played Waltzing Matilda. As time goes on, the men who fought in each war march together each year. Eventually there is only a few left to march until the last survivor dies and the people are left to forget the war. “And I watch my old comrades, how proudly they march reliving old dreams of past glory. And the old men march slowly, all bent, stiff and sore. The forgotten heroes from a forgotten war and the young people ask, “What are they marching for?” And I ask myself the same question.

Memorial Day carries great sadness for the American fighting man. Pick your war. The WWll Veterans are disappearing. The Korean vets have lived a life of neglect from an ungrateful nation. And the Vietnam Vets, well ask a person under the age of 40 what they know about Vietnam. They say, “Oh, the war we lost? More likely than not, they will admit that they know little or nothing about it. “I had an uncle that fought there.” They may mutter.

Memorial Day is not a day that we celebrate with cheerful greetings of “Happy Memorial Day!” There is nothing happy about this day. Hopefully, it will be an occasion each year for the American people to recognize and honor those who paid the supreme price defending this country.

Yes, in 1969 I was fighting in the jungles of Vietnam and Memorial Day fell on May 30th. I had already lost three friends. Since that horrible day, I take an hour out of whatever day Memorial Day falls on and I take the time to honor them in my own way. I hope that you never forget.



I had a wonderful day yesterday with my IT guy Billy Holder setting up my “radio station” at my house. Starting the 4th of July, I will start broadcasting my new blues show, the Raw Man Blues Show. It will be a two hour show broadcast on KBGE  94.9 THE BRIDGE  ever Sunday evening from 6-8pm. The show will be broadcasting all over the Pacific Northwest and also on the internet. I am ecstatic with the gifts coming to me from my book. I will keep you informed as we prepare for the initial show.

I also want to clarify just what I am nominated for by the International Latino Book Awards Committee. There were over 1800 books submitted with 192 judges. The Award ceremony will be held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco on June 27th.


Best Latino Focused Fiction Book—English

A Falling Star, Chantel Acevedo, Carolina Wren Press

Raw Man, Fred Rivera, A Word With You Press

The Book of Unknown Americans, Christina Henriquez, Alfred A Knopf Publishing

The City of Palaces, Michael Nana, Terrace Books

The Deportation of Wopper Barraza, University of New Mexico Press

F: Mariposa Awards

Best First Book—Fiction—English

Covering the Sun with My Hand, Theresa Varela, Aignos Publishing, Inc.

Divine Sight, Eduarda Amondragon, Create Space Independent Publishing

Raw Man, Fred Rivera, A Word With You Press

The 16 Rule, Evelyn Gonzalez, Friesom Press



It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.
Julius Caesar

On January 22, I had a device implanted in my back that sends a signal to my brain, blocking my back pain from communicating with my brain. In simplest terms, the Pain gets a busy signal. If you read Raw Man, you know what happened to me in Nam. I have lived the last 17 years in pain that sometimes drove me to the edge. So far so good. I’m not 100% pain free yet but this is an 18 month study. Thank God for the VA and UCSD. If nothing else, I have learned to live one day at a time. Here is an excerpt from my book:

“I lay in the mud and watched him march off to issue more orders to try to keep his men safe. I would not miss him.
Sykes came and pinned a note on my shirt and an hour later they brought a stretcher and put me on it. Two grunts carried me through the blaze of burning vehicles. I bounced amid the acrid smell of burnt rubber and flesh, each bounce turning the roar of the battle engulfing the men of C Troop into my own naked hell.
When I reached the Medevac chopper, I was shoved into the middle slot of a three-stacker rack. The whirlwind of the blades spattered rocks and dust up inside the helicopter. The crew medic read the note on my shirt and injected me with morphine. He helped the door gunner secure the other casualties in place. As before, the morphine had little effect on my pain.
Above me was a grunt from the 1st Infantry Division who had a catastrophic chest wound. His blood spilled over my body in a steady drip. I could not move. The chopper rose and I turned my head sideways and surveyed the scene below me.
It was chaos.
At least five vehicles were blown or burning and as we moved higher in the air the men looked like ants after a kid lights a fire to an anthill. The guy above me moaned. Now the blood flowed a little faster. It was pissing on my neck and chin. He started sobbing. The medic attached an IV to the poor guy and sprinkled a yellow powder about his wounds. I was miserable but grateful that I at least was in one piece.
I don’t know how long the flight lasted. It was chaotic and I was more worried about the guy above me than anything else. Now he was crying out some woman’s name. His wife? Girlfriend? I knew he was dying. The medic knew this as well and he soothed the kid by rubbing his good side and running his hand through his hair.
I felt the chopper start to descend and looked out the open door at a familiar sight, the billboard of the Negro shaving. Things started to look familiar as Saigon came into focus. Wow! Back again so soon?
We landed at a pad inside the Third Field Hospital. A group of orderlies and nurses were at the pad to greet us. They took my severely wounded comrade down first. A priest started administering the last rites as a doctor started giving him CPR. As they rolled him away I knew I was witness to another death. When they finally got to me, two orderlies grabbed my stretcher and put me on a rolling gurney. The guy at my head looked down at me and said, “Hey man, didn’t you go to Montebello High School?”
“Class of ‘66,” I whispered.
“Me too! I’m Tom Fuentes. Remember me? You used to hang out with Scott Seidman and Lance Goto, right?” “I remember you,” I mumbled. “Yeah, so how you doing?”
I passed out from the pain.



Today is Mothers Day. I wish every mother a Blessed Day and hope you find peace and happiness with your children today. My mother has been dead for many years now. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her and my father. They both lived to 82. I wish my Mother was around to read Raw Man since it is based on the letters I wrote to her from Vietnam. She saved them all and gave me the material to write this book. She loved to read. I think that is where I got my love of literature. So to honor her memory, today, I post an excerpt from my novel. I know she is smiling down at me and my sister Barbara today.

I arrived back at the USO and started using my camera. There was a line of guys waiting to use one of the three phones they had set up to call the States. I found my place in line and struck up a conversation with the fellow in front of me.

“You been in line long?”

“About an hour and twenty minutes. It’s not too bad today.”

Shit! What day was it? What time was it in Montebello, California? I thought about this for a few seconds and decided that whatever the time, my parents would be happy to hear from me, given the last letter I wrote to them told them I was in the hospital. They had no idea what was going on over here. I better call.

It was called a MARS station. I forget what the acronym stood for but it was a decent, cheap way to call the United States from Vietnam. I picked up the receiver and gave the operator the number I wanted to call and waited. Halfway around the world the phone rang in the bedroom of Art and Marina Rivera. It scared them to death, having a son in Vietnam fighting a war, and it crossed my mind that if they got a call at an odd hour in the morning they would be sure it was bad news. Someone picked up the phone on the second ring.


My eyes misted over as I heard her voice. This was Mother— the one the boys and men cried out to as they lay dying.

“Mom? It’s Fred.”

“Oh my God, mijo! How are you?” I could hear her calling out to my dad in the darkness, “Arthur! Arthur! It’s Fred!” I heard him stumble around and make his way to the other room to pick up the extension.

“Mijo. Where are you? Are you hurt?”

They were both on the phone now and I was overwhelmed with emotion.

“I’m fine. I’m at the USO in Saigon and they let me call home. Sorry to wake you but I had the chance to call and I took it. Don’t worry about me. I just hurt my back. I’ll be fine with a little rest.”

Memories of childhood swept through my mind and that quiet little suburb of Los Angeles seemed like heaven to me—right now out of reach, but with luck, I would one day be there again.

We talked for about five minutes. I don’t remember exactly what we said, but by the end of the phone call we had assured each other that we were all fine and in good spirits. We were looking forward to my homecoming in six months and that word, homecoming, finally became a reality that seemed obtainable.

Yes, I was halfway there.

We said goodbye, and as I hung up the phone, I realized that I was weeping. Could I finally drop my guard? Better not. Better to keep sharp till that day comes when I am sleeping in my own bed once again.



The Wounded Warrior Project’s latest target is the Keystone Wounded Warriors, a small, all-volunteer charity based in Pennsylvania. …

How small? Keystone Wounded Warriors had a total annual revenue of just over $200,000 as recently as 2013. That’s less than the $375,000 that Wounded Warrior Project executive director Steven Nardizzi was personally paid in 2013. …

Keystone Wounded Warriors Executive Director Paul Spurgin is dumbfounded as to why massive Wounded Warrior Project would spend the resources to sue them. Spurgin is a Marine Corps veteran who served two tours in Southeast Asia in the 1960s. (Wounded Warriors Project head Steve Nardizzi, on the other hand, has never served.)

NEVER SERVED? I am dumbfounded by how such a large organization such as this can fool the American public.