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“The Vietcong blew up the radio station a couple of times and they blew up hotels where we lived,” recalls Cronauer. “It was a guerilla war so no matter where you were, you were in danger.” And Cronauer had a few close calls. One night, shortly after he and three or four mates finished dinner and left a floating barge restaurant, the Vietcong exploded a mine that raked the side of the boat and sprayed shrapnel everywhere. He saw heads detached from torsos — the gore of war.

While Cronauer came home in one piece, some of his buddies did not. Of the 58,000 Americans killed in the Vietnam War, more than 8,000 died during 1965 and 1966, the years Cronauer served.

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