FeaturedHistorical Fiction

Follow His Lead


Loved it! 😍

A coming-of-age story about a minister’s son's time in Vietnam as a handler for a scout dog that checks for danger during field missions.

As a soldier moves slowly through the jungle, a shot rings out and his partner leaps to protect him. The other American soldiers in the unit return fire and kill the sniper. In the silence that follows, a young boy wails, “Ba, Ba.” They signal for a helicopter and return to base with the wounded. It is 1970 Vietnam.

Meanwhile, Charles Anderson Jr. has reported to the medical unit to have his German shepherd checked out. Staff ask him to find Chaplain Li because they need him to interpret and deal with the soldier so they can operate on his partner.

As Anderson soothes his dog, Zeke, he observes the chaplain persuade the soldier to stay outside the surgery. Li speaks with the injured Vietnamese boy and asks Anderson to bring his dog over. It amazed him that Zeke allowed the young boy to hug him because normally the dog won’t allow it. The dog’s first instinct is to serve and protect, not only the handler but anyone in need.

The close relationship between a handler and their dog makes them indispensable in the field. The scout dogs can find tripwires, foxholes, and detect hidden snipers. In order to do that, the handler must remain consistent in caring for the dog’s daily needs and stay alert to the dog’s subtle cues.

That’s what makes the book so special. This coming-of-age story focuses on quiet acts of kindness which help Anderson recognize that bravery wears many faces.

Rather than spend the night with a flower, the brothel owner strikes a bargain with Anderson that in exchange for teaching him the rules of baseball, he can watch the Baltimore Orioles on the man’s television.

A lesson is found in each chapter with a few bible scriptures that highlight the message. They are not a distraction. I feel they strengthen the themes of service.

The details of the story were so vivid I was sure I was reading a memoir. The end notes supplied an explanation. The author's father had served in Korea and some of the stories were based on his father’s experience.

By making it fiction, the story has a happy ending for the dog Zeke. Over half of the service dogs were euthanized when the war ended because it was too costly to bring them home.

Anderson's plan to give Zeke a home is carried out by Chaplain Li, the brothel owner, and a grateful soldier. It brought the story full circle in a way that real life can't.



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I read everything but high-level science and engineering textbooks. When I write on Medium, I write mini-memoir, poetry, and book reviews. I'm working on an urban fantasy series. I produce and do interviews for a podcast called "STOMP! with Debbie Walker." I am open to feedback.


About the author

Richard LaMotte is the author of "Pure Sea Glass," a Writer's Digest 1st place award winner, and "The Lure of Sea Glass." His first book sold over 100,000 copies and was featured in Parade magazine, NY Times, Washington Post and led to an appearance on Martha Stewart Living. This is his debut novel. view profile

Published on October 24, 2023

Published by Koehler Books

80000 words

Genre: Historical Fiction

Reviewed by