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Noel Hernandez II

I just want to start by saying thank you, truly. COT helped my dad immensely. He told me that telling his story for you "was a release and is finally at peace". Some people may take old war stories for granted, but I am glad you don't and that you cherish them enough to shed light on one of the overlooked duties in the military at that time. I've never heard my dad speak on what he really did in Vietnam, I never really expected him to because of how much it affected him.  Now I have a chance to read into it thanks to you. Again, you are great for sharing this story and helping my dad as well as anyone who had to go take on this duty. Please keep in touch, it's been an honor having you in our network and I'm sure my dad would say, part of our family.

Theresa Fuess

"I found the book completely gripping.  I read it in two days and couldn't put it down."

Noel Hernandez Sp. 4th Class Army May 1970-December 1970

"First of all, I want to thank Mr. JC Handy for putting together "Coffins of Tin". I especially want to thank him for his time, effort, research and determination to publish Coffins of Tin. Mr. Handy is a one of a kind that only comes along once in a lifetime. He was all ears and had full attention, when listening to stories that no one else wanted to hear. For some people the details of my duties were too morbid, too gross and very depressing. For me, it was an outlet like no other. I was extremely honored the day I received a copy of Coffins of Tin. It was an emotional moment, I breathed a sigh of relief and felt the pain go away. Furthermore, I experienced a strong feeling of being at peace."

V. Thomas Oltesvig, Viet Nam Veteran and Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander

"I have had the privilege and honor of being a proof reader and personally knowing the author of this extraordinary book of which is an account of what happened to our hero's' of the Viet Nam War that gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in service to their country.

This account is also recognition of those military outcast of whose duty was to care for the "Hero's, killed in action (KIA) or died as a result of their wounds received in combat action, who gave all. The personnel of GR (Graves and Registration), these dedicated individuals in my opinion as a Combat Veteran had a harder, more tedious and honorable task than I and my fellow Combat Veterans had.

The author's sources and investigative techniques, were to contact and have input from the Combat Veteran who witnessed their fellow unit members' being dusted off and carried away, always wondering what remaining journey their comrade was undertaking.  And for those that performed the heroic task and duty of honoring our fallen and return them back to their loved ones, the forgotten personnel of Graves and Registration.

I highly recommend this acknowledgement and documentation of another aspect of WAR, we never think and or thought about.

James L. Beecher Sp. 5th Class Army February 1969-September 1970

"I never thought I would see anything written about the duty I had in Vietnam. All these years later, knowing now what that effects of that duty would have on me. I would still serve in GR again."

Shyann Dentice

"Thank you for telling this story I believe my son-n-law and grandson will learn the realities of war by reading Coffins of Tin"

Wesley Watt

"I just finished reading your book, I must say It's the only book that has ever brought a tear to my eye. I haven't been this emotional since visiting the wall in D.C."

Joyce Rice Denke Donut Dolly October 1970-October 1970

"I sincerely thank you for Including us in your book Coffins of Tin, for your service in Vietnam and for sharing the story of these brave men and their awesome story."

Dan Hursh

"A story that has been needed to be told since the beginning of Grave Registration during the American Civil War. One of the most moving books I have ever read."

Bob Lendi Sp 5th Army 1967-1970

"After finishing J.C. Handy’s novel, COFFINS OF TIN THE UNSEEN ANGELS OF VIET NAM, I can honestly say that it is the first book I’ve ever read that I ABSOLUTELY COULD NOT PUT DOWN! My copy was a gift and I didn’t know what to expect, but honestly, knowing he was self-published, I didn’t expect much. To my surprise, COT is an EYE-OPENER and BEST SELLER material. Handy speaks the truth about Vietnam that no one, until now, has had the guts to talk about. Handy, a Vietnam vet himself, exposes the stark truth about the Vietnam War through the eyes of Mitch McCasey, an emotionally wounded nineteen year old draftee, who has been granted conscientious objector status. McCasey, who mistakenly believes that serving his country as a supply clerk will keep him out of trouble, soon finds out how wrong he is. After a three day’s journey from Kentucky, where he was handing out fatigues to new recruits at Fort Knox, he’s dropped off on the airstrip in Da Nang during a break in an enemy mortar attack. McCasey, the epitome of a green and clueless “new puke”, stands alone and confused on the airstrip, un-aware the base is under attack. A battle-savvy sergeant races to his rescue under enemy fire and leads him to the safety of the nearest bunker where he learns his first lesson in staying alive in the middle of war-torn Vietnam. McCasey, is determined to prove he’s a good soldier despite the prejudice of his commanding officer, and agrees to work in the Graves Registration unit. The GR people retrieve, sort out, and identify the remains of fallen soldiers and prepare them for repatriation to the United States. McCasey accepts his position, as disgusting as it is, as a welcome alternative to infantry duty. By now you should begin to realize that COT is not a typical war novel. It is not about the heroes and their battles in the bush, but of the remains of the fallen heroes and of the people who deal with them. This is what separates COT from most other war novels.  Amid the horrors of war, McCasey finds a sense of worth, pride and honor in his duty. He develops a deep reverence for the casualties of war and their families. Along the way he finds true love and begins making plans for his future back in the States. As if this isn’t enough material for a captivating story, somewhere deep inside of McCasey a greater war is raging, a war that began years earlier, a war that extends beyond the battlefields and rice paddies of Vietnam, beyond the mountains of remains in the GR, and beyond the grasp of time. In the letters that McCasey writes to his mother we find clues to his truth. In the GR we find clues to the truth about the Vietnam War. I was very comfortable with Handy’s easy going, third person narrative style. However, what he did with my emotions was anything but easy going and comfortable. His stereotypical military characters bemoan their situations as they move the story along with barrages of stereotypical Vietnam War clichés, complaints and insults. In one scene, Captain Everett, who was relieved of his infantry command and given a desk job, reared back in his chair and yanked the cigar from his mouth, spitting a tobacco shred to the floor, “Well, let me tell you something, trooper, I don’t give a rat’s ass for COs or yellow-bellied cowards and even less for you.” Less than predictable are Handy’s GR characters, experts in the field of forensics, who educate and enlighten with laser-fine attention to the smallest of details. In one morgue scene a subject’s eyes have been covered for the examiner’s relief, prompting the question, “Why don’t you just close ‘em peepers?” “A fair question since we watch actors do this all the time in movies, they swipe the dead eyes shut. In Handy’s GR the answer is abrupt. “Can’t, what you see in the movies is bogus.” It was EASY TO READ! Even with my vision issues I comfortably finished the three hundred and eighty-seven, soft cover pages over the weekend. EASY TO READ does not mean it was an EASY READ! Do you remember what I said about emotions? The sheer volume of blood and guts details often times made me put the book down, look away, and take a few deep breaths. Other times I closed the book and said a prayer for all who were wounded or died as a result of the Vietnam War. On a number of occasions I would jerk my head up and away from the book with my eyes wide open, only to jerk my head back down a second or two later and pick up where I left off. Then there were the number of times that I slammed the book down and delivered my own barrage of vulgarities and insults. To that regard I took no prisoners. At times my anger was directed at a particular character or characters, or their situation, war in general or the US involvement in Vietnam. On one occasion I even cursed J.C. Handy for writing COT.  If you’re catching the hint that a few scenes could evoke a catharsis from within you, you’re absolutely right, so be prepared for thunderstorms. Am I better for having read COT and would I recommend it? I’m happy to say YES to both questions without reservation. I now have an even greater respect for all those who served in Vietnam, and a much deeper understanding of the unseen wounds that EVERY Vietnam Vet carries with them. Thank you in advance and THANK YOU TO ALL WHO SERVED!"

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