Thursday, October 20, 2016

Lawrence J. Potesta

 Mr. Lawrence Potesta brings to life a story of challenges, war 
and romance in his novel Paris to Saigon

Paris to Saigon Kindle Edition
by Lawrence Potesta

Genre: Historical Fiction 

Print Length: 191 pages
Publisher: La Maison Publishing, Inc.; First edition (July 17, 2016)
Publication Date: July 17, 2016
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English


Book Description:


It’s 1966 and Mickey Van escapes the jungles of Vietnam for a cushy post in Germany. While traveling, making deals and courting ladies through all of Western Europe – James, Mickey’s best friend, is black, alone, afraid and not so lucky as he fights for his life and sanity in the daily terror of the Hell known as Rice and Dice Land.

Dealing with the anguishes and challenges of both Romance and War, the mix will satisfy the reading thirsts of both genre enthusiasts. Liaisons with a General’s daughter in Paris, an Oxford educated brothel Madam in Stuttgart and finally an angel of mercy Army nurse in Vietnam, all find our lead character’s life of Love, Lust and Guilt blended Cuisinart style and it all makes for an intriguing Historical Coming of Age Novel.

The letters that the two soldiers share are horrifying, bloody and brutal as well as life preserving and morale boosting. Following a long and treacherous battle fighting the North Vietnamese, James is cut down by friendly fire and sent home to his sobbing Mother in a flag draped coffin along with thousands of other sacrificial lambs.

Mickey Van, suffering from survivor’s guilt, trades his sexual escapades in Paris, Germany, Italy and Amsterdam for likely death as a Medevac Helicopter Pilot in the country that took James’ life. These choppers bearing giant red crosses taxi maimed and bleeding soldiers screaming for their gods and mothers to healing hands providing that they might someday see their grandchildren.


Letter from Cecilia Powell (Chicago) to Michael Van Degna (Stuttgart, West Germany)

March 25, 1968

Dearest Michael – It is with tears on this paper and an aching heart that I have to tell you that James was killed by friendly fire on March 8 in Xo Dong My, Vietnam just weeks before he was to rotate back to the states and home to me. My beautiful, strong, loving son has gone to his Maker and out of my life forever. This letter will be short because it hurts far too much to think about my boy laying in pain and bleeding without me. A Mother’s heart never heals from this type of tragedy and I don’t know what I will do without my only son.

I realize that you and James were best friends even after you went your separate ways in this Army thing. He wrote of you often and said that you truly were the brother that I was never able to give him. He told me that your letters were the only things that kept him going in the Hell that finally took him from me.

Your last letters were forwarded to me along with his personal belongings. I have sent the letters to you unopened.

I must close now. I’m sure that you will understand

Thank you for being such a good friend and brother to my James.

Sincerely, Cecilia Powell

My name is Michael Van Degna AKA Mickey Van. It was 1963 and at Northern Illinois University that I met James Powell, the first black I ever shook hands with. We met in the pool hall of the student union. It was a large room full of red and green felt tables smelling of chalk and powder. 

After three semesters of poker games, hustling pool, wooing the ladies, cutting classes and failing exams James and I decided it was time to face the reality of war and headed to the local Army recruiter’s office. Marines were a death sentence, James couldn’t stand the thought of wearing Navy bellbottoms, we didn’t know what the hell the Air Force did so the Army was the choice of the whim. Sergeant Happyday greeted us with open arms and assured us that we would get the best survival training available, money for re-entry to the World and College, a house for future wives and toddlers and the satisfaction of knowing that we would be protecting our country from the threat of Communism. Of course none of this was even on our radar but it all sounded good except the Communism bullshit. That went out the door with Joe McCarthy. Oddly enough no mention of desk jobs in California. We knew we were being duped but had little choice except to cut and run to Canada.

We had “career” choices of course. I calculated and chose the Military Police thinking I would have some sort of control and James signed up to be evaluated for Special Forces.His research assured that these boys received excellent combat training which postponed having to cross the pond for close to a year following basic training. This was a self-preservation decision for James. We both thought that our strategy would keep us alive on our trips to Da Wherever. It was 1966 and both the Sun and the North Vietnamese were keeping our boys roasting on a red hot spit.

Four women, four different experiences: Paula for partying and wild sex, Trudy for business and uninhibited sex, Suzanne for comfort and making love and now Regan for understanding and a platonic love. This was 1968, however, and in the era of “Free Love” platonic love was considered to be an oxymoron. Regan gently reached for my hand and we stood in silence for what seemed like hours.

I had never and didn’t want to start killing people. Trusting in a God that I was finding as a first time ally, I counted on this to be a sound risk. I hesitated to get others’ opinions becauseon the surface it seemed to be a reckless solution. When thinking about it though, I realized thatI had made many reckless decisions in my confessed life so why not for the turnaround.

When I honestly reviewed those sins that I had confessed, I saw service to my fellow soldiers as an exit plan from that “superior prick” image that I had been looking at in the mirror.

About The Author

After a career in Marketing and Radio, Lawrence Potesta settled in the Land of “Let-It-Be” and unexplained U-Turns on the Baja Peninsula of Mexico. Using his forty years of experience, he’s now a writer and proudly presents his first published work of a trilogy dealing with the life’s journey of Mickey Van . Lawrence has owned and operated his own Restaurant and Restaurant Franchise business, owned and operated a sales training company and most recently had a 17 year nationwide marketing consulting firm for commercial and healthcare insurance brokers.

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