The Bookstore in Kilgore: Wars and the Men Who Fought Them

On Saturday, May 19, two books recalling the trials, tribulations, hardships, and courage of those soldiers will be on display with a special book signing at the Bookstore in Kilgore.

America has always found itself at war.

It fought a revolution to become a sovereign nation.

It fought an uncivil war that tore the country apart.

It fought a war against the evils of a German empire to bring the country back together again.

Through the years, it was fought wars both just and unjust.

And the heroics of the men who fought those wars have found their way into the best of American literature.

Their stories are our heritage.

Their stories give us a reason to stand tall when the flag passes by.

We may not always agree with the war.

But we salute to honor the men who carried our freedom and their bravery into battle with them.

On Saturday, May 19, two books recalling the trials, tribulations, hardships, and courage of those soldiers will be on display at the Bookstore in Kilgore. The event will take place from noon to four in the afternoon. The bookstore is located at 1012 Houston street, just across from Kilgore College.

Vietnam Vet Leonard Reese of Tatum will sign copies of his Vietnam memoir, The Nam Within. He may also take to the mike and read a few passages of a powerful, raw, and gritty story told by the man who lived it.

William Burgdorf of Tyler, who writes historical fiction, will introduce his new release, Humps and Hooves,the little-known story of the U. S. Army’s decision to build a camel corps in its efforts to explore, tame, and perhaps even civilize the vast and forbidden American frontier.

Leonard Reese

The Nam Within

By Leonard Reese

The Nam Within, by Leonard Reese, is a narrative non-fiction memoir that speaks to veterans from all wars and others who deal with PTSD, depression, and the feeling that they may be “going crazy,” and their families and friends, so that they can see that survival is possible and that they are not alone, despite the battle scars that keep rising to the surface long after the physical combat ceases.

“I did the best that I could to tell my story with all of the truth that I have within me. Almost fifty years have passed since my thirteen-month tour of duty in Vietnam from 1969–1970. I still see some of those images as clearly as if they were happenings within a blink-of-an-eye past. While others, partially confused and shaking like a pile of pick-up-sticks awaiting the next attempt at success or tragedy, arrive within the shadows of the night, blurred and weighted by the evening’s dew.

“Incorrect names and misplaced trails, rice paddies, and small areas of high ground dot these pages as if they were paint sprayed across canvas. Yet, in my mind’s eye, they are accurate and certain in their descriptions, and even more clearly, in their grip upon my scared soul. Please know that these lines are much less about the fight than they are about the emotions of the men who did the fighting. We were more than just sand-box warriors moving from one pile of windblown up-turned-bucket encampments to the next moment’s instant rebirth, within a new pack of forest green plastic men preparing for counter-attack or ambush.

“It is the feel for the war as it happened, and continues to happen, to this one man trapped within his memories, and that, I pray, might open at least one lone person’s eyes, or increase a loved one’s ability to understand his self-imposed blindness. I want you to experience the loss of self that many like myself went through so that you might more accurately understand the ghosts that continue to walk a kill-radius behind, or to our front.”

About Leonard Reese:
Leonard Reese is a retired school-bus driver who makes his home in the country outside of the small, East Texas town of Tatum. During his time as a bus driver, he taught English and History at Tatum ISD for thirty-five years to supplement his bus-driving income.

He is married to his college sweetheart, Cynthia Jameson Reese, and they have two children, Elizabeth and Downs, who rule their world.

Leonard was a rifleman in Quang Nam Provence, Vietnam with the 2nd platoon of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment, 1st Marine Division from 1969-70.

Humps and Hooves

By William Burgdorf

Bringing history once again to life, William Burgdorf shares a tale of the 1850s U.S. Army Camel Corp in Humps and Hooves. This tale recounts adventures on the Texas frontier proving the viability of utilizing camels for military purposes

“Corporal, you are standing at a moment in history,” replies the Major breaking into a smile. “The beginnings of this experiment can revolutionize the movement of supplies and communications across the Southwest.”

“Well, Sir. What might that be?” asks Sam. He flicks a quick questioning look at Billy.

“Camels, Corporal. Camels.” The hack stops in front of the tavern and the Major exits, walks inside, and leaves both Billy and Sam sitting and staring at each other.

Into the pages of Texas history walk thirty-four Dromedary and Bactrian camels for the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps, and Corporals William Roberts and Samuel Adams are dispatched to escort them from Indianola to Camp Verde, Texas.

What they aren’t prepared for is a lovely German emigrant, Comanche and Apache Indians in West Texas, camel caravans across Northern Arizona, the approaching Civil War, or a maniacal, stalking French murderer.

Billy sums up their camel experience in the last line of the book: “You know, Sam, did have it right. These critters ain’t nothing but humps and hooves.”

William Bugdorf

About William Burgdorf:

William A. Burgdorf is a writer and storyteller of historical fiction. He and his wife, Nancy, live in the piney woods portion of East Texas in Tyler. He is a graduate of Nova Southeastern University with a doctorate in education and melds his education with forty years of corporate training and human resource development expertise to write exciting, engaging, and adventure-filled stories.

He began his career as a secondary education teacher and taught, among other subjects, history. A double major in this field in his undergrad studies left him with his unquenchable love and respect of historical characters, locations, and events.

This passion is what now contributes to the richness and details of his writing, and through his well-defined characters breathes life into history. His other novels about the American frontier are The New Mexican, Company A, and The Arizonan.

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