Book Review: Hook Up! U.S. Paratroopers From the Vietnam War to the Cold War


Hook Up! U.S. Paratroopers From the Vietnam War to the Cold War

By: Antonio Arques, Alejandro Rodrguez 

Publisher: Andrea Press 

Pages: 160

This well-written and printed book highlights the equipment, tactics and uniforms used by U.S. paratroops during the 60s and later. The informative photographs are well integrated into the text which describes each item briefly. It is also very detailed when it needs to be. 

For example, the book lists three uniforms worn at different times and lays out changes in design and material during the item’s history. Some may not be interested in this much detail, but I find it adds to interest in the book overall. I can already see this book will be of value for collectors of Vietnam militaria who need to identify items in their collections.

The book covers the training of a paratrooper and moves on to the various types of equipment they use, such as the parachutes, boots, helmets, rucksacks and so forth. People who model U.S. paratroopers will really love all the detail in the photos which will enable them to build more authentic figures or portray the proper use of equipment. 

Of interest to me was how paratroopers carry their weapons on the way down, which is very important. Paratroopers need to get into fighting condition as soon as they land and they need to get settled ASAP. How they handle water or tree landings is also covered.

The book also covers the various badges and insignia U.S. paratroopers wear and what they mean.

Vietnam and U.S. military enthusiasts should also have a healthy interest in this title, especially readers not already familiar with airborne troops and their operations. Dive on in!

When reality intrudes

Scale modelers are dedicated to modeling history as accurately as possible, for the most part. War, however, is something which has brought down entire nations and changed history, as well as affecting generations of people who survived. Those who did not survive also leave a hole in their families that is difficult to bear at best. 

So how much of this reality of war should modelers reflect in their work? I thought about this as I was looking at a modeling forum and spotted a post from someone looking for dead soldier figures. They are out there and you can also convert your own figures. 

The post immediately brought comments about not overdoing death in a diorama, which I agree with. I am not one to tell people what to model in their dioramas, but I think some subtlety is called for. 

We have plenty of photos and films about what goes on during a war and how weapons affect the human body. It’s not necessary to model every detail like it’s a body horror movie.

But I also believe in the educational factor of dioramas. Take for example, the opening of Saving Private Ryan. I can’t image being one of the scared soldiers who struggled up the beach. That scene shows how serious the job was that day and some were not bound to make it. It also shows the bravery of those who did make it and paved the way for those to come.

Some people can’t take that kind of graphic representation, which is understandable. If you talk to a veteran who’s seen action, he or she might tell you about similar things they’ve witnessed in their career. They might not. It’s not pleasant reliving experiences such as those.

I have a neighbor up the street from me who somehow survived the second wave of D-Day. I thanked him for his service, but I did not press him for details. I can only imagine what he saw and experienced and I am content to leave it at that.

All wars have situations that leave unpleasant memories in people’s minds for years. I prefer to think if I am modeling a serious scene, I am educating the viewer and honoring those who fight for us, as well as showing the high cost of war.