Promises Kept: How Once Couple’s Love Survived Vietnam
Book Group Discussion Questions
What did you know about the Vietnam era before you read the book? Did your perceptions change?
How would you feel if your spouse were unexpectedly drafted into a war? How would you feel if you were drafted and had to leave your young spouse?
Len says, “One thing I learned was not to make close friends.” Do you think this works as a mechanism to keep from being too emotionally involved if one of your comrades is seriously injured or killed? (pg. 46, paragraph 6)
Len describes the lives of the villagers on page 53. Did you ever consider that war was taking place inside the villages and its effects on civilians’ daily lives?
Len describes how being under fire the first time feels. Can you imagine how you would feel? (pg. 62)
The US sent the troops in many helicopters to give the impression that there were more troops than there actually were. What are your thoughts on this military strategy? (pg. 106)
Do you think differing abilities, experience, and standards of each LT, CO, and Top played a part in the safety of the soldiers? (pg. 115, 116) (i.e. The conditions of Jeannie and Fishnet when Bravo arrived, the sweep missions Len’s CO ordered, the length of stay of the patrols, the wear & tear on the men, the attempts on the CO’s life…)
How much joy a bunch of books and a football brought to the group! What else might have done the same thing? (pg. 116-117)
Night watch is described as dark, silent, full of fear. How would you have coped? (pg. 123)
Survivor guilt is real and haunted Len for years. Why do you think this is so? (pg. 124)
How do you feel about meeting quotas of body counts, stated or implied? (pg. 198)
Why do you think Len felt the need to get back to his group in the jungle while recovering in the hospital from his high fever? (pg. 204)
How would you be able forget the death of a fellow GI and be able to get on with the war? (pg. 226)
Read Len’s letter as to why he served in Vietnam. Do you understand his reasons? Agree or disagree. (pg. 262)
Luanna describes receiving the news of Len’s injury. How do you think you would react? Would it be different today? Why? How? (pg. 259)
If faced with the decision to stay or leave knowing only what she was told, as Luanna was, what would you choose?
How vital to Len’s recovery and accomplishments do you think Luanna was? Could you be that strong?
What do you think were some of the reasons Len made such a remarkable recovery?
Luanna describes how she and Len had to reverse roles. How difficult would that be for you and your spouse? (pg 317)
How difficult would it be for you to leave the house after suffering a handicap or disfiguring injury? Would you more likely become a couch potato or get on with your life? (pg. 338)
Reminders of ‘Nam: Trees and bushes along the path at Saddleback College, starting gun at Sandra’s swim meets. Do you ever encounter reminders of a life-changing, extremely frightening experience? How do you handle them? (pg. 349)
Nightmares. Do you suffer from recurring nightmares of a tragic experience?
How did Len regain his sense of purpose after he thought he would never be able to overcome disabling obstacles in his life? How would you? (pg. 350)
Have you ever believed something to be true for an extended period of time which played a major role in your life, only to realize what you had believed was false? Discuss how Len’s life might have been different if he hadn’t suffered from the guilt of thinking he had been responsible for the death of his entire company. (pg. 385)
Do you suffer from a “handicap” which has kept you from achieving the most your life has to offer?
Have you ever been shocked by seeing something you used as a child or as a young adult in a museum? (pg. 391)