About If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home
If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home is a memoir of the Vietnam War written by Tim O’Brien. The novel chronicles O’Brien’s experience as a soldier in the Vietnam War, from his initial decision to enlist, to his tour of duty, to his return home.O’Brien begins the novel with a brief history of his life up to the point of his enlistment. He was born in 1946, the son of an Irish immigrant father and a Norwegian-American mother. He grew up in a small town in Minnesota and attended college at Macalester College in St. Paul. It was there that he decided to enlist in the Army, despite his parents’ objections.O’Brien describes his basic training at Fort Polk in Louisiana, and his subsequent deployment to Vietnam. He arrived in Vietnam in December of 1967, and was assigned to an infantry unit in the Central Highlands. He describes the conditions he and his fellow soldiers faced in the jungle, as well as the terror and violence of combat.O’Brien was wounded by a grenade in 1968, and was sent home to recuperate. While he was in the hospital, he learned that his best friend from basic training, Curt Lemon, had been killed in action. This event had a profound effect on O’Brien, and he began to question the purpose of the war.After he was discharged from the hospital, O’Brien returned to Vietnam. He served out the rest of his tour, and was eventually assigned to a position at an information center in Saigon. He remained in Vietnam until 1970, when he was finally able to return home.O’Brien ended the novel with a reflection on the experience of war, and how it changed him. He expressed his belief that the war was ultimately pointless, and that it had caused him to lose faith in the government and in humanity.