About The Book & Author

The book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive , covers the bloodiest year of the Vietnam War, 1968, including the 1968 Tet Offensive, but many of the stories in the book are actually very funny. They were after all a bunch of American boys long before they were soldiers. John Harrison was commissioned as a Lieutenant at 20 years old for example.

Like the original Band of Brothers from World War II, his unit was formed and trained in the States specifically to make a combat parachute jump, this time in the Vietnam War. Officially they were the 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 506th Infantry Regiment, of the 101st Airborne Division.

The book starts with John attending Jump School and ends with a case he had as a lawyer long after the Vietnam War was over defending a former 173rd Airborne trooper from criminal charges related to his use of marijuana while undergoing cancer treatment at Walter Reed Army Hospital.

John's story is told episodically with each chapter capable of being read alone. Many of the men that served with John have read and commented on the stories. Some of their comments appear at the beginning of each chapter. My Mother's Machine Gun is John's favorite chapter, but others prefer Staying Alive by Being Inept, or the one about the magnificent fart. John believes that you cannot tell the truth about American soldiers without telling the funny stories along with the rest. Even in a war zone it seems they actually did have fun sometimes.

In Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive we met "rock apes", tigers, elephants, snakes, peacocks and many other animals, great and small, in the wild, sometimes with deadly results for the animals. However, other than snakes, the Army mentioned none of them in training. While the unit trained mostly for combat patrols in the jungle, it fought mostly in pitched battles in cities, towns and villages in II Corps.

Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive, is about American men doing the best they could in a war they did not choose, in a place America never really understood. They managed to be there on the bloodiest day, the bloodiest week, the bloodiest month and the bloodiest year of a long bloody war. The 1968 Tet Offensive is a big part of what John and his men saw and did in their year in country.

War never really leaves you, it brings out the best and the worst in men and because of those two facts normally the story of a war is well told. However, the Vietnam War was different. Never have there been more myths reported as facts. Never has the actual story of the war been more ignored. If you read almost any history of the Vietnam War at some point it will say something like: "The enemy attacks during the Tet Offensive were quickly beaten back except in Khe Sanh, Saigon, Hue and Phan Thiet." Then the history will go on to describe the fighting in Khe Sanh, Saigon and Hue, but Phan Thiet will never be mentioned again. This is that story.

CLICK HERE to contact John Harrison to order "Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive.".

John Harrison

was originally assigned as a rifleman in Company A, 3rd Battalion, 506th Airborne Infantry, 101st Airborne Division and became the Public Information Officer (PIO) for the Battalion shortly after its arrival in South Vietnam in October of 1967. His task as the Battalion Combat Photographer and Reporter was to chronicle the Battalion’s tour of duty in South Vietnam through pictures and newspaper articles for the period of October 1967 to October 3, 1968.