By Thomas A. Ross

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Privileges of War is a collection of positive stories about wartime service during one of the most negative and controversial periods in American history.  While the stories told here are relatively simple and straight forward, they are also powerful, with the potential of changing viewpoints, opinions, and even lives.

Soldiers did not commit the U.S. military to war in Vietnam.   However, they did bear the brunt of that commitment on both foreign battlefields and in their own hometowns when they returned.  Not only did they fight battles against an enemy who hated them, but upon returning home they often faced countrymen who seemed to hate them as well.

Events of September 11th bound our country together, while events surrounding the Vietnam War nearly tore it apart.

Few Americans who served in Southeast Asia were pot smoking, cursing, killing machines, as they have so often been portrayed.  The great majority of the more than three million men and women who spent time in Vietnam were decent people who either felt they were fulfilling their patriotic duty or simply believed they were serving their country.  Most of them were young, either still in or scarcely out of their teens when they were asked to shoulder heavy responsibility and face life-and-death situations, some of them on a daily basis. I know, I was there . . . I was one of those soldiers.  Privileges of War is a firsthand account of the many acts of selfless heroism and courage I witnessed during my tour of duty as a military advisor in Vietnam.

Many of the books about Vietnam currently in print tell provocative stories with messages that are often dark and brooding.  And while there were without question many repulsive and brutal occurrences in Vietnam, with the atrocities at My Lai being perhaps the most notorious, this book dares to tell a very different story about the war in Vietnam and those who served in it.  Privileges of War treats neither the politics of the war nor the conflict itself, but depicts some of those who were there and shows the spirit lifting manner in which they served. It is a detailed, action-filled account that will give readers a real, often frightening, idea of what it was like to be on the ground, or in the air over the Vietnamese jungle during that conflict.

PART I of this book documents day-to-day life in Vietnam, which could be both gut-wrenching and exhilarating. PART II presents the obscure and relatively unreported story of the "Rescue in the Valley of the Tigers."  The story of the rescue recounts a life saving mission mounted by a small group of daring Americans determined to give the gift of freedom to inhabitants of a mountain village who had been held and used as slaves for more than eight years.  It is an American story of resourcefulness, integrity and courage that demonstrates the true nature of those who represented our country on the Vietnam battlefield.

While this book shares many bright stories of the dedication and patriotism that the author was privileged to witness in Vietnam, they are not presented as a goody-goody gloss over of ugly occurrences that took place there.  They are, however, presented as a vital piece of the American historical puzzle that has been missing.

About the Author

Click here to visit Tom's Special Forces detachment Thomas A. (Tom) Ross was raised in Pensacola, Florida where he lived with his family until he enlisted in the U.S. Army. Compelled to serve at a time when our country's involvement in the Vietnam War was escalating, he left college and entered the service as an Enlistee in 1966 at the rank of Private. As a result of completing Basic Training number one in his class scholastically, he was sent to an Army Leadership Training School, where he was named Honor Graduate. Before completing his next assignment, he was accepted and sent to OCS (Officer Candidate School) where he received a Commission as a Second Lieutenant. Upon graduation from OCS he applied to and was accept by the U.S. Army's elite Special Forces, also known as the "Green Berets".  After more that a year of intensive unconventional warfare training, which included a unique military intelligence course, he was assigned to an operational "A" Team, Detachment A-502, with the 5th Special Forces Group in South Vietnam.

His late January 1968 arrival in Vietnam coincided with the infamous Tet Offensive. He was immediately assigned as the Operations and Intelligence Officer of the largest Special Forces "A" Team ever created. The team, which normally operated with twelve members, had more than fifty men and advised a large Vietnamese military force posted at a main base and throughout five outposts. His position, responsible for the Team's intelligence network and its military operations, provided him with a unique vantage point from which he was able to observe both men and women as they coped with their wartime assignments.

During his tour of duty as a military advisor in Vietnam, he was also given the unique opportunity to organize and lead a prisoner rescue mission that liberated 165 mountain villagers. The rescue mission was documented by CBS Television and aired on the morning news, afternoon news, and The Evening News with Walter Cronkite in August of 1968. The mission received additional national and international coverage through other news media, including United Press International, the Reuters news agency and Scripps-Howard. After completing regular active duty service at the end of 1968, he joined the family jewelry business, but remained a Reserve Officer.

During his final reserve assignments at Special Forces headquarters, the JFK Center for Special Warfare, at Fort Bragg, he was assigned the task of reviewing and/or re-writing classified SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) or training programs for hazardous special operations. His commitment to military service continued in a Reserve capacity until 1991, when he requested and was given his third honorable discharge as a Major in the Special Forces branch of the Army. While he is no longer a member of the active or reserve military service, his commitment to country continues today and is as strong as ever. He is currently a "Lifetime" member of the Special Forces Association as well as a member of the Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Association.  He was, however, committed to both community and country long before entering military service, having served as an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America.

Upon returning from Vietnam he joined the family business in a management position and returned to college, where earned two undergraduate degrees and a Master's degree. He graduated with honors and was a member of a national honor society. Currently, President & CEO of a small upscale custom design jewelry company, he has served in key executive positions since leaving active military service in 1968. He began his career with his family's small jewelry design and manufacturing company located in Pensacola, Florida.  Later, in 1983, with his family's blessings, he sought a larger arena and was recruited to both nationally and internationally recognized luxury goods companies. Returning to family roots in 1999, he reestablished the family business under the name The Ross Jewelry Company in Atlanta, Georgia.

See What the Author Does Now - Huge Change His career in the luxury goods industry provided unique opportunities to meet numerous celebrities and public figures with whom he worked on a wide variety of community events and charitable affairs.  Among these international celebrities was Audrey Hepburn, for whom he hosted a unique "Breakfast at Tiffany's" . . . very different from his wartime assignments. Receiving recognition as a result of his community and humanitarian efforts, he was presented with the Georgia Outstanding Citizen award as well as the People of Vision Award.  He received professional media training in New York, he has been a platform speaker, has lectured at university level and served on numerous community boards. He has been invited to provide media interviews and has been profiled in various social and business publications. He has appeared on local, national and international radio and television, including CNN, CNBC, NBC, CBS and ABC.

While he continues to manage and develop the regenerated family business, he also works on other business ventures. He and his wife, Amy, are involved in family and community interests.  In addition to Privileges of War, his inspirational story of men and women who served in Vietnam, he is currently working on a closely related fictional book, A Black Tie Affair.

Ordering Information

Privileges of War  - by -   Thomas A. Ross

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376 Pages | ISBN: 0975485903