In the year 1968, it was a different time for Americans in the military. Unlike present times when members of the military volunteer to fight for their county, Americans in 1968 were drafted to fight for the United States.


In the year 1968, it was a different time for Americans in the military. Unlike present times when members of the military volunteer to fight for their county, Americans in 1968 were drafted to fight for the United States.

Barry Popkin was one such individual who was drafted into the military at the age of 18 while living in New York. Even though he was drafted, Popkin still gave his all to the military and just over 40 years later, he has written about his experiences fighting in the Vietnam War.

“My Year in Vietnam” is a book Popkin decided to write about six months ago. With the help of his friend John Reardon, Lt. Col., USAFR Ret., he wrote the book in hopes of informing people about the year he spent fighting in Vietnam with the 5th Infantry Brigade in 1968 and 1969.

“I was searching the web but came up with nothing on us fighting in North Vietnam,” Popkin said, “There were stories of other soldiers in the area but not ours. Our division never sent anyone except for us.”

Popkin fought in Con Thien near North Vietnam from Sept. 16, 1968 to Sept. 15, 1969 and spent an average of 240 days of the year in combat in the jungle.

“They call it a triple canopy because day turns into night when you walk into the jungle, it’s like day and night,” Popkin said, “It’s a kill zone 365 days a year. There’s no villages, no people, no towns and if anybody moves you’re fired upon.”

The American soldiers were fighting against a North Vietnamese army that had everything the Americans had from tanks to planes. For the soldiers there, they had one goal and one goal only…to survive.

“It’s wasn’t a moral war but from the boots I was in, I just wanted to survive and get home to my loved ones.”

After serving his time in the military, Popkin used the G.I. Bill to go to college and get an associates degree and a bachelor’s degree. He then spent the next 40 years working as a white-collar accountant/operational manager and now lives in Dover with his wife and three children.

When he decided to write a book about his experiences in Vietnam, Popkin contacted Reardon. Reardon had already published two books, one on the Civil War and one on World War II. The two held weekly meetings in which they would edit and re-write the book. In April, “My Year in Vietnam” was published.

A section in the back of the book features documents that support the stories Popkin talks about in his book.

Thus far, Popkin said he has received a lot of good responses on his book. They originally printed 500 copies and only have 43 left.

Even though he didn’t volunteer to be in the military, Popkin said he was no better than anyone else so he went and did his duty the best that he could.

“There’s no way I wanted to go but I had a very successful life,” he said, “I adjusted very well when I came back, everything worked out for me.”

As for his book, Popkin feels it’ll be an important part of history.

“From now on it will stand the test of time because it’s real,” Popkin said.

Email Jennifer Dailey at jennifer.dailey@doverpost.com