A lone fourteen man US Marine rifle squad finds itself isolated behind North Vietnamese Army forces during the 1968 Tet Offensive. They must survive despite not having supplies, and while avoiding numerous deadly booby traps and being hunted by a far larger North Vietnamese unit. All the while dealing with conflicts within the squad. More
Tet, 1968. That was the Vietnam War's D Day, Battle of the Bulge, Iwo Jima, Crossing of the Rhine. In a series of battles in all parts of the country, condensed mostly in a three day span - although a few fights (Khe Sanh, Hue City) lasted longer - the Viet Cong were effectively destroyed as a fighting entity, and the North Vietnamese Army was severely damaged. Tet, 1968 was also when the United States lost the Vietnam War.
In THE SQUAD one fourteen man US Marine Corps rifle squad led by Sergeant George Bingham is in a routine ambush outside a remote fire base in northern I Corps, close to the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Vietnam. This is the night before a scheduled cease fire for the Tet holiday; they don't expect any problems. When their fire base is unexpectedly hit by a superior force of North Vietnamese, the squad loses communication, and the Marines on the fire base are driven back. Unfortunately, the loss of communications means the squad doesn't get the word to pull out of their ambush and rejoin the rest of their company for the withdrawal. Their failure to rejoin their company leaves the other Marines thinking they were found and wiped out by the North Vietnamese. Morning finds the fourteen Marines not dead or even wounded, but alone deep behind North Vietnamese lines.
Without knowing what's going on, or where friendly units are, Sergeant Bingham and his Marines must find a way to evade contact with the thousands of enemy soldiers, and reconnect with other Marines. Complicating matters, they started out with only enough supplies on the ambush to last overnight.
Who are these Marines? How do they relate to each other? In order to tell their story properly, LtCol R. W. Thoreau, the fictional narrator whose After Action Reports and historical analysis are spread throughout the novel, begins the story on March 9, 1965, the day Bingham learns of the Marine landing at Da Nang, which was the beginning of the American ground war in Vietnam. Bingham drops out of college at the end of the term and enlists in the Marines.
The members of this squad, as is the case in all squads, have strong friendships - as well as conflicts among the Marines.
In its review dated May 21. 1991, the WASHINGTON TIMES said of THE SQUAD "[it would have been] ...a classic had it been published 20 years ago..."