An exploration of heroism, friendship, and war's aftermath
David and Lee Roy (cloth)
David L. Nelson and Randolph B. Schiffer
They were little more than boys in the turbulent 1960s when Lee Roy Herron and his high school buddy, David Nelson, signed up for Marine Corps officer training. Decisions during college took the pair in different directions—Lee Roy to the infantry, language school, and the cauldron of Vietnam, David to law school, the JAG office, and eventually to Okinawa.
When Lt. Lee Roy Herron was killed on the front lines in February 1969, only two months into his tour of duty, Nelson mourned the tragic loss. Haunted for years afterward, he questioned his own choices, his relative safety, and his backstage role in the conflict while his friend paid the ultimate price.
A chance encounter with a retired officer in 1997 spurred Nelson to delve more deeply into Lee Roy’s death. What really happened that day on the hillside above A Shau Valley on the Laotian border? A quest to understand his old friend’s experience and sacrifice led Nelson to military archives, to the homes of friends and family back in West Texas, and even to battle sites in Vietnam. What he learned caused him to rethink the nature of fate, friendship, and heroism—and touches lives even today.
The final chapter in Nelson’s journey to honor his fallen friend, David and Lee Roy will resonate with Vietnam veterans, their families, and survivors of any war who carry the memory with them.
A gripping chronicle of character and commitment. David Nelson’s account of how Lee Roy Herron became the recipient of the Navy Cross in Vietnam is a reminder of why American heroes still matter. —Lt. Col. Oliver North, USMC (ret.)
Dave Nelson was a classmate of mine in the early seventies. In David and Lee Roy he has told a poignant story of two Marine officers: one who served and died heroically in Vietnam, the other who refused to let his memory die with him. — Gen. James T. Conway, 34th Commandant, USMC
From the times of wars come special friendships—friendships stronger than death. . . . Here, in David and Lee Roy, new generations of Americans can read the story of the bond between these two buddies—one who died a hero’s death, and one who lived a hero’s life. —Col. Wes Fox, USMC (ret.), Medal of Honor recipient
Every day of the year you can find “Lee Roy Herron, 1LT-02 Marine Corps Reserve” on Panel 32W, Line 78 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. In this searing book describing the troubled times America endured in the ’60s, David Nelson and Randolph Schiffer portray the faith, hope, and love of country and of mankind that was Lee Roy Herron. —Col. Jack Glasgow, USMC (ret.)
David and Lee Roy is . . . a story of a time in America when young men had to make hard choices—and live with the consequences of their decisions. Those who lived through this period will recognize parts of themselves and their friends, and those who did not will gain a deeper understanding of those on whom the Vietnam War had the greatest impact. —Maj. Gen. Walter B. Huffman, U.S. Army (ret.)
David L. Nelson, a graduate of Texas Tech University who holds the J.D. from Southern Methodist University, spent three years as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, attaining the rank of captain. He currently works as a tax consultant for major nonprofit organizations in Texas, and lives with his family in Houston.
Randolph B. Schiffer graduated from Yale College in 1969, fought with the 1st Marine Division in Vietnam, and returned to become a physician. He currently hunts extensively in Northern Michigan, manages investments in Santa Fe, and writes fiction in both places.
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