A Different Side of Vietnam: A look at life and experiences of a naval officer in the Vietnam War
Vietnam. It’s perhaps one of least known yet most controversial wars in American history. What’s even more obscure are the tales of Americans serving in the country and interacting with the culture of war-torn Vietnamese civilians. Pass Me the Rice shares these experiences with readers.
In Pass Me the Rice, author Robert G. Kay reveals the everyday life of an American advisor during the Vietnam War in a true, historical and often humorous account of his experiences while serving the first two of his eventual eight years in country. The book provides a unique perspective on the early Vietnam War by offering a glimpse of Americans’ encounters with Vietnamese armed forces and civilians.
As an expert in Vietnamese culture, Kay’s novel also sheds light on the value of casting off ethnocentric worldviews. It offers an inside look at a country in a prolonged war for survival and a period of history frequently cast aside.
“The book shows how to deal with another culture in the most dire of circumstances and why we shouldn’t judge other cultures by our own standards,” Kay says. “It is necessary to be aware of culture and avoid making mistakes that are viewed as insulting.”
A former U.S. Naval Lieutenant, Kay’s story begins aboard a destroyer in Rhode Island and traces his assignment to a Junk Force base in the South China Sea, reassignment to Saigon during the Tet Offensive and second combat tour with the Vietnamese River Assault Groups after his medical evacuation to the United States.
Kay is currently writing a sequel that continues the story told in Pass Me the Rice, taking readers to the last days before the fall of South Vietnam in 1975.
About the author
Robert G. Kay is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and currently resides in Pensacola, Fla. with his Vietnamese wife. He retired from the US Navy as a lieutenant in 1969 after being wounded and losing his leg in Vietnam. He returned to Vietnam as a civilian advisor to the Vietnamese Navy at the request of the commander of US Naval Forces in Vietnam. He held this post until the military left the country in March 1973. He then worked for the Defense Attaché Office in Saigon until the fall of South Vietnam in April 1975. He retired from Civil Service in 1997, where he worked as a supervisory repair engineer for PERA (Surface) in the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.