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Ronald G. Goddard grew up seeing Hollywood movies that showed American troops boarding ships and going off to World War II with bands playing and well-wishers swarming docks to give soldiers rousing sendoffs.

But when his troop transport ship left San Diego Harbor for Vietnam in March 1967, there were no patriotic farewells.

It would be a chilling wake-up call for Goddard and the fellow marines of Golf Company, 2nd Platoon, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines. He shares an accurate account of their experiences in this autobiography.



Book Reviews


The VVA Veteran, “Books in Review II’’

When you first open The Band Never Played for Us: The Vietnam War as Seen by a Marine Rifleman in 1967 (Lulu, 425 pp. $31.49, hardcover; $19.99, paper: $7.99, e book), turn to the chapter titled “Battle at Phu Oc.” It culminates all that came before.

Ronald G. Goddard, who was nineteen when the battle took place, examines that day with frightening clarity. Thirty-one Marines were killed in action and 118 wounded. The order that sent Marines into battle at Phu Oc was “the stupidest tactics I had ever seen for the terrain we were in,” Goddard says.

“There were almost no enemy soldiers visible even though they were all around me. I did not see any recognizable NVA soldiers today; except the shadowy figures I saw running deep in the jungle. I saw muzzle flashes, hands, arms, but I never saw a face or anything that looked like a human being. No one was out in the open.”

Based on his experiences as a squad leader in the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment from March to October 1967, Goddard concludes: “The problem every American infantry leader had in Vietnam, from a battalion commander to a fire team leader, was that we didn’t know the terrain as well as the enemy, and we never knew what we were getting into until we were in it.”

Wounded three times, Goddard saw more than enough action to validate his opinion. He understood that Marines were both “the hunter and the hunted,” and recognized the “fine line between aggressively pursuing the enemy and getting yourself sucked into an ambush.”

The core of his book describes and analyzes on-the-ground warfare in Vietnam based on Goddard’s experiences and day-by-day accounts of his squad’s activities. Even a reader familiar with Vietnam War infantry operations should find interest in Goddard’s efforts to devise tactics to protect his men and to outwit the NVA. He brings to life what he learned firsthand.

Throughout the book, Goddard’s honesty pleased me, especially when he went off on a “Fuck it all” tangent. Otherwise, he is a life-long, truly proud and dedicated Marine.

The final pages of The Band Never Played for Us contain several maps of his operating areas along with photographs of Marines in Vietnam.

Henry Zeybel, The VVA Veteran, “Books in Review II’’

Review Link:

The Band Never Played for Us by Ronald G. Goddard


Leatherneck Magazine

THE BAND NEVER PLAYED FOR US : The Vietnam war as Seen by a Marine Rifleman in 1967. By Sgt Ronald G. Goddard, USMC. “Please don’t dominate the rap, Jack, if you’ve got nothing new to say,’’ the Grateful Dead sang in 1969. There have been scores of books about the Vietnam War, from Michael Herr’s quirky “Dispatches,’’ to Philip Caputo’s ensnaring `A Rumor of War, to Gustav Hasford’s memoirs thinly veiled as fiction, “The Short Timers. Ronald G. Goddard has something new to say.

Leading the life of an all-American boy growing up on a farm and wrestling and playing football, Goddard was instilled with a traditional view of war. As he relates in the prologue, “The Band Never Played for Us,” is “a history of my service as a Marine rifleman during the Vietnam War in 1967. My war experience was totally different than what I expected after growing up in the 1950s and ’60s and seeing Hollywood movies and TV documentaries of my father’s War … All of us sons of World War II veterans grew up Seeing Hollywood movies that showed American troops boarding ships and going off to war with bands playing, friends and well-wishers swarming the docks to give the soldiers a rousing send off. When my troop transport ship left San Diego harbor in March of 1967 there were no well-wishers, and no patriotic send off.’’

After the de rigueur chapters about boot camp and training, where Goddard relates a very amusing anecdote about a clash with some Marine Corps newbies, he gets down to the heart of the matter. He ultimately ends up a Recon Marine Stationed in Da Nang in March 1967 and is assigned to protect Hill 55.

Goddard makes it easy for the reader to stay oriented as chapters are labeled with both the location of each action, as well as the date.

Goddard has the skill to make the complex simple and easy to understand. He is adept at providing comprehensive descriptions for the reader to assist in their understanding of complicated maneuvers.

Sgt Goddard confirms what most servicemen experienced in Vietnam—long periods of boredom spiked with periods of extreme terror. ‘’The VC/NVA never initiate a fight unless the odds of success are very much in their favor. They don’t believe in fair fights. When they choose to attack, it is because they had studied the situation and knew they had all of the resources in place to give them an excellent chance of success. The VC learned long ago that ambush, booby traps, and sniper fire was the best way to negate the material and technological advances of Western armies. The military leaders of North Vietnam knew time was their greatest asset.’’
Goddard has an interesting twist on the results of the War. He considers it a success in a way, “The American statesmen and politicians who committed the United States to defend South Vietnam did so as a long term strategic effort to contain the spread of communism in Southeast Asia, and in that effort we were partly successful. We lost the war in Vietnam, but the other countries in the region did not fall as expected partly due to the 10 years effort the U.S. made in Vietnam.”

Fans of “edge of your seat” battle action will not be disappointed. The narrative is as concise as it is cogent. Unneeded sentences are as hard to find as a cheeseburger in India. As far as writing style goes, if Sgt Goddard went into business, he would corner the market on down to earth. Goddard’s Vietnam War memoirs weave a fascinating web. It behooves you to get caught up in it.

More infomation about how to order the book is available on Goddard’s website,

Joseph D’Alessandris, Leatherneck Magazine


“Reprinted with Permission from Leatherneck Magazine.”