LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- A writer, author, educator and former warrior living in Las Cruces is getting some well deserved national recognition for sharing his experiences fighting in Vietnam.
Retired Lt. Col. Bob Worthington's book, 'Under Fire with ARVN Infantry' has earned him the Gold Medal for Excellence in Literature award from the Military Writers Society of America.
Worthington's writings center around a considerable unique perspective of that conflict, differing from the mostly American centric point of view.
When Worthington arrived in Vietnam as a young Army combat officer and advisor to America’s south Vietnamese allies in 1966, he was much more than just another soldier.
He was already completely fluent in Vietnamese and experienced in counter-insurgency tactics.
Over the next three years, he completed two-tours of combat duty consulting with the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, trying to help them fight off their communist neighbors in the north.
“They knew the culture, the customs, they really knew what was going on," Worthington said. "I was much safer with them than with an American unit.”
In his work as an advisor, Worthington helped oversee several ARVN units on special combat missions, fighting alongside the south Vietnamese and also taking time to meet their families.
“I remember a little girl, maybe 3 years old. When I went to visit the family, she would climb in my lap. I thought to myself that I would do whatever I could to make the future safe for her,” he recalled.
Soon, his work came to include flying low-level helicopter missions to seek and destroy enemy positions and rockets near the Cambodian border.
It was on one of those runs that anti-aircraft fire hit back at Worthington's helicopter with a bullet striking his leg.
'Under Fire with ARVN Infantry' is also just one of a planned trio of books that Worthington is currently working to publish as he continues to share his experiences from that conflict with the world.