The Killing Zone Summary

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The book, ‘The Killing Zone’ by Frederick Downs, is an autobiography of his own experiences in the war of Vietnam 1967. He splits the book into multiple sections and is in the format of diary inserts describing his journey from start to finish of his time in Asia and his physical and mental incidents. The first chapter is titles ‘The Bridges’ and his journal entries start September 8, 1967 when he arrives to Vietnam. He describes looking down at the war zone and being surprised by how many lights were actually illuminated and that the aircraft to be shot down. Downs didn’t expect the war zone to look so inhabited and visible from the skies. He thought that he was physically prepared for what he was getting himself into, but mentally he struggled. Downs was very confident in his abilities but didn’t know where he would fit into the war and what toll it would bring onto him.

Frederick Downs had recently graduated from the United States Army’s Officer Candidate School, OCS in Georgia. He was eager to see real combat and didn’t want to settle for anything less than that. Volunteering to enlist and be away from his wife and children was difficult, but he wanted to make his time away mean something to his country. As a lieutenant he would be in charge of a group of men later on in the book and is responsible for their well being and making sure they come back home to their families in one piece. He would be stationed in Pleiku in the central highlands of South Vietnam in Division Four, but he had never heard of that Division. As he got to Pleiku after another flight, he learned more about the environment that he will now inhabit.

Vietnamese were all around the military base, which was very surprising to him. The native people were referred to as “gooks” and “dinks”, because they started calling Americans it first, and just turned it back onto them. The crew chief from the flight explained to him about ‘Sin City’, which was a place for Vietnamese prostitutes and...
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