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September/October 2021 -   -  

Photo courtesy of Michele Willson David Willson, one of the most prolific and accomplished Vietnam veteran writers, died July 6 at his home in Maple Valley, Washington, at age 79 of multiple myeloma, caused by his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam.

His novels, poetry, bibliographic work, and thirty-year stint as a reference librarian and professor of Vietnam War film and literature at Green River Community College were strongly influenced by his service in the Vietnam War. Following his retirement in 2000, he contributed hundreds of book reviews to The VVA Veteran, as well as a memorable series of feature articles on Vietnam War poetry and poets, Agent Orange, and other subjects.

“David was one of the smartest, wittiest, knowledgeable, and most productive writers I’ve ever known,” said Arts Editor Marc Leepson. “I cannot overestimate the importance of his books, educational work, and his prolific work for us on Vietnam War literature and film. Remarkably, David kept writing insightful and perfectly crafted book reviews for The Veteran’s Books in Review II page throughout his long illness. He only stopped when he wasn’t able to move his hands on the keyboard of his computer. Everyone who cares about Vietnam War literature and film is in his debt.”

David Willson trained as an Army stenographer and served at USARV Headquarters in the Office of the Inspector General of the Army on Long Binh Post from 1966-67. That experience became literary fodder for his three REMF novels—REMF Diary (1988), The REMF Returns (1992), and In the Army Now (1995)—and much of his other literary output.

“His REMF Diary series is a very important contribution to the Vietnam War literary canon,” said novelist D.S. Lliteras. “David owned the depiction of the American rear-echelon military culture during the Vietnam War—there is nothing like it in the literature of this period.”




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