Donnie DeAngelo was a force to be reckoned with in the jungles of Vietnam. Faced with explosions that came close to taking his life, he was a young Marine filled with passion and purpose, willing to do whatever was necessary to eliminate the enemy. Now, years later, he is faced with a darker enemy at home—the wolves of Wall Street.
In "Gold in the Coffins," bestselling author Dominic Certo reveals the story of a tight-knit band of retired Marines who bonded during a bloody tour of duty. After returning from decorated combat service in Vietnam, Donnie became the CEO and founder of a successful upscale restaurant chain that he builds into a major corporation. When he and his combat-weary comrades are persuaded to take their company public, they enter a treacherous journey through the battlefields of American business. Faced with bankruptcy, jail, and an even darker demise, the three friends are forced to take on the system they once fought to defend.
In this taut tale of greed, murder, and revenge, readers discover:
The struggles of survival and readjustment as veterans strive to attain the American Dream and transition to civilian life.
How experiencing extreme tragedies can make you stronger, more committed to succeed, and establish unbreakable bonds.
How the American system is broken, often exploiting the people who believe in it and defend it.
How the integrity of loyalty and courage is earned, developed, and strengthened over time.
“THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE ….”
By Dominic N. Certo
Though well-intentioned and important for today’s returning combat soldiers to hear “thank you for your service,” this polite expression of gratitude has lost its luster – at least in the eyes of Vietnam combat vets. To understand the lack of enthusiasm shown by this group of ex-military fighters from yesterday’s generation, one must first understand that these Johnnies came marching home from their war some 40 or 50 years ago – a very long time to wait for a simple expression of appreciation (that never came) from one’s fellow Americans.
At the moment, TV shows are broken up by many heartwarming commercials, showing support for today’s returning vets, physically disabled, with PTSD making everything even worse. These well-intentioned ads are sadly necessary, and in most cases characterize the Iraq-Afghanistan military returnees.
Sadly, it misses the mark for Vietnam combat vets -- and there are statistics to prove the point: The VA suicide study shows that of the 22 combat vets who commit suicide -- almost one every hour of every day -- the average victim is in his 60s. Men in their 60s aren’t former WWII or Korean soldiers and, conversely, they can’t be troops sent home from any Middle East conflict. These men are clearly Vietnam combat vets. Taking it a step further, 71% of combat vets committing suicide are in the mid-50s to 70s age range, again indicating they are Vietnam combat vets. Only 6% fall in the age range of late teens to 20s. Why, because unlike Vietnam, we are doing the right thing and seeing past our own political ideologies and self-righteous attitudes and embracing the damaged warrior coming home.
Well, clearly, the boat has departed for the Vietnam combat vet who came home to scorn, rejection with the label of being a war criminal or baby killer. There were no happy welcome signs for the Vietnam Marine or Soldier. No Wounded Warrior Project or Operation Homefront to help pay the bills, support the family or embrace the post-traumatic stress impositions of war.
Somehow the self-righteous youth of the 70’s found satisfaction in condemning the young military that served their country. As we died in Vietnam or returned with missing limbs and other disabilities, we at least expected to be left at peace or maybe even appreciated; instead of becoming the poster image of baby killers. The politicians, who sent us there, retired on hefty pensions or wrote their best seller books but the traumatized combat vet was left to find an impoverished family waiting to pay the mounting bills and a broken system unwilling to navigate him back into society.
For those combat vets, like me, fortunate enough to find work in jobs to move forward, there was a chance to put it all behind us.
For those that did not, they retreated to alcohol, drugs and other components to hang on. Over the 50 years, those that chose substances that would alter or mitigate their emotions, memories and guilt would eventually find themselves bankrupt, homeless, drug or alcohol addicted, or worse, death by their own hands.
There is sense of isolation for the Vietnam combat vets. During the Vietnam War we, as an American society, chose to underscore any individual atrocity of war and magnify it to a generality, as if we expected war to be a nice thing that is done like the Queens rules for boxing. Easy to do when we are safe at home watching TV and drinking beer or martinis.
We expect that our own combatants, not the enemy, retreat to the neutral corner when there is the slightest infraction and ignore all the good they do in any combat situation.
With Vietnam we chose to ignore the countless med-caps performed by soldiers, Marines, corpsmen and medical military to go into villages and vaccinate the young and old against diseases, while facing the enemy when defending the millions of South Vietnamese who wanted simple elected rule in their villages and cities.
There were thousands of orphaned children whose parents were murdered by the vicious Viet Cong guerrillas – the latter recruited by the North Vietnamese government who brutally murdered and maimed thousands, if not millions. Those children of the fallen became our responsibility as we provided them orphanages and hospitals that exist to this very day.
Who did all this? The hard labor and execution was completed by your Vietnam combat vet who cared enough to make a difference--the same Vietnam combat vet that was scorned and insulted--or at best, ignored --when they returned.
As an advisory board member of Operation Home Front, and as a Vietnam combat vet myself (with the 7th Marines), I’m working together with many others to make sure we provide the support and guidance to eliminate some of the problems that the Vietnam, and all combat vets, face when returning home.
Dominic Certo, author of Gold in the Coffins, is a decorated war veteran who served with the 7th Marines in Vietnam, receiving numerous medals of valor. Certo is an advisory board member of Operation Home Front, working with the non-profit to offer stability for military families by providing food, housing, and ongoing support. One of Certo’s sons is currently in the military, and has served Afghanistan and Iraq with the Blue Angels.