Local Alamance County writer Jerry Woodlief penned his first book, Staring Down the Beasts: A Combat Veteran Remembers, based on true events as told to him by his cousin Ron Woodlief. The book is a vivid recollection of actual experiences Woodlief recalled during his time fighting in the Vietnam conflict.
“I wrote this book in the hope it would inspire those in distress who feel that life is often too hard to carry on,” Ron Woodlief said. “I do not pretend to suggest that I have had challenges on a higher level than others, but my hope is that this book will show how the grace of a merciful God is sufficient for you to persevere and stare down your beasts…whatever form they might take in your life.”
According to his website, Jerry Woodlief always had a love of the written word and enjoys wordplay up to the present day. He graduated with a degree in English in 1970 at the level of cum laude. Despite this educational background, Jerry chose Industrial Engineering as his vocation instead, making his way back to writing after spending considerable time discussing Vietnam and his cousin Ron Woodlief’s first-hand recollections of the various battles and experiences.
Though “Staring Down the Beasts: A Combat Veteran Remembers” is Jerry’s first published book, at the age of 72. He has been published in travel blogs for major tour companies and newspaper documentaries of his extensive travels with his wife, Frances. Jerry loves writing about his religious convictions and experiences. He has a prolific collection of these treatises which he has never gotten around to publishing, but just might someday.
The author writes in his introduction, Killing…the jungles of Vietnam were rife with the mutilation of human life. We were given honors if we were prolific at destroying our fellow man. It all seemed completely antithetical to what I had been taught at the seminary. It was there that I was taught to nourish life and revere the commandments from God. Like so much of my life, this was filled with contradictions such as kill or be killed and, “thou shalt not kill.”
If you kill the enemy, you are serving your country and protecting your loved ones and your fellow citizens. Yet, the command of God is eternal. The dictates of man are, in reality, ephemeral and in a continuous state of flux. Why am I being tested this way? What does God have in store for me? So, there I was, in the middle of a war, thousands of miles from home, disobeying God’s commandments. How could I reconcile this enigma?
“I dedicate the book to all the people who have shared my life and played a part in helping shape me into the man I am today,” Ron Woodlief continued. “My life, like so many others, has not been easy. It has seemed as though there was a demon lurking behind every door as I have passed this way. Sometimes I have had to acknowledge that the beast was, indeed, myself and not someone else causing all of my problems. But, I clarify that by recognizing that there have been so many positive chapters in my life. After all, this is a book which extols the grace, love, mercy and deliverance by almighty God.”
For more information about the book, visit acombatveteranremembers.com. It can be purchased on Amazon.