“Better to drink life in one flaming hour
and reel before the sun than sip pale years
and cower before oblivion.”
— A Jack London quote on the wall of a head, Marble Mountain Air Facility R.V.N. (1969)
The story of Jerry Blackbird is the kind that haunts. Most especially if you’re his brother. But to one degree or another, it will if you’re simply an American.
Raised in the northern Idaho mining country, Jerry Blackbird joined the war in Vietnam. His letters home – many of them reproduced in this book – show a transformation through the fierce intensity of his experience there, into depression and resignation, to the point of hopelessness.
He did not quite cross over that line, partly because he found new meaning in his life, and a new set of skills as well, in the area of politics and government. An area of endeavor which many found as disillusioning as war was for Kerry Blackbird a means for improving lives and generating useful change.
And then, just as his new promising career was getting underway with several significant accomplishments already, he died in a helicopter accident.
Jerry’s brother Mike Blackbird tells the story, from the early days to the end, about the influence Vietnam and then politics had on his brother, and the effect his brother had on many other people.