Bare Feet, Iron Will - Stories From The Other Side of Vietnam Print E-mail




Speaker: Lt. Col. James Zumwalt (Ret.)

Date: Thursday, December 8, 2011

Time: Membership Social at 7:30
Program at 8:00 p.m.

Location: Coastal Georgia Center, 305 Fahm St. (behind the Visitor's Center) Directions and Map
Access: Open to the public and free for members, students and accompanying family members, educators and active military and their dependents. $10.00 charge for non-members.


Lt. Col. James Zumwalt (Ret.)


For a conflict that so deeply affected our nation, little has been written about the Vietnam war from our enemy’s side of the battlefield. That changed when James Zumwalt found himself compelled to present that perspective.

A retired Marine officer who served in Vietnam, Panama and the first Persian Gulf war, Zumwalt began returning to Vietnam in 1994. Still harboring animosity toward the Vietnamese due to his brother’s death he had absolutely no idea how that visit would change his life forever. He became friendly with a North Vietnamese veteran and that bonding caused him to accept an aspect of warfare he never before contemplated, one which also presented a bitter irony to his family. The aspect was that the hardship, the suffering, and the tragedy that occurs in warfare is universal to both sides of the battlefield.

In his book, “Bare Feet, Iron Will—Stories from the Other Side of Vietanam’s Battlefields,” Zumwalt shares these insights, as told to him by hundreds of former enemy veterans he interviewed. One such interview proved especially unnerving as he found himself talking to a general who had targeted his father, Navy Admiral Elmo Zumwalt.

His interviews included the well known—such as General Vo Nguyen Giap, the Commander of the North Vietnamese Army, General Dong Si Nguyen, Commander of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and General Tran Van Tra, Commander of the Viet Cong Forces—as well as the lesser knowns who endured most of the hardship. The collective story they had to tell was one of intrigue, of patience, of ingenuity, and of dedication to the idea that defeat was not an option.

The stories include insights about medical conditions, about the use of “invisible roads” along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, about the massive tunnel system network in Cu Chi outside of Saigon that became an underground city affording users concealment as they moved from one part of the network to another, and about another enemy Americans never realized they were fighting.

“Bare Feet, Iron Will” was the No. 1 Amazon Kindle bestseller, and when it was released in Vietnamese earlier this year it became an instant best seller in that country.



James Zumwalt is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the 1989 intervention into Panama and Desert Storm. He currently heads a security consulting firm named after his father—Admiral Zumwalt & Consultants, Inc.

An internationally acclaimed best-selling author, he writes extensively on foreign policy and defense issues, having written hundreds of articles for various newspapers, magazines and professional journals, including:

  • USA Today
  • The Washington Post
  • The New York Times
  • The Washington Times
  • The LA Times
  • The Chicago Tribune
  • The San Diego Union
  • Parade magazine

His articles have covered issues of major importance, oftentimes providing readers with unique perspectives that have never appeared elsewhere. This has resulted, on several occasions, in his work being cited by members of Congress and entered into the US Congressional Record.

His thoughtful perspectives earned him an invitation to join the prestigious Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), of which the honorary co-chairmen are Senator Joe Lieberman, Senator Jon Kyl, former Secretary of State George P. Schultz and former CIA Director R. James Woolsey. The CPD is a non-partisan organization with one goal—to stiffen American resolve to confront the challenge presented by terrorism & the ideologies that drive it.

He is the author of "Bare Feet, Iron Will ~ Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam's Battlefields". He is also a contributor to Rear Admiral Greg Slavonic's book, "Leadership In Action | Principles Forged in the Crucible of Military Service Can Lead Corporate America Back to the Top".



Sponsor for This Month's Program - The Eliza Thompson House

The Eliza Thompson House is an exquisite 1847 inn located in historic Savannah. Recommended by Conde Nast Johansens and known for superior service, the inn is just a short walk from Savannah’s best-loved historic attractions. Many of our speakers choose to stay at this lovely inn and they are always delighted to have done so.





SCWA Board Member Jose Da Cruz Awarded Scholarship To Teach Abroad

(Savannah, Ga., November 10, 2011) Jose de Arimateia da Cruz, professor of political science at Armstrong Atlantic State University, has been selected as a European Union Erasmus Mundus Visiting Scholar at the University of Stavanger in Norway. He will spend two weeks in the country during March 2012, teaching and researching Nordic migration to Latin America, specifically to Brazil, Argentina and Chile.

"It means a great deal to me since this is an important scholarship given to about 12 scholars from around the world,” said da Cruz. “It gives me an opportunity to advance my scholarship in the area of Nordic migration to the Americas, which is a topic that has been minimally researched and has a great deal of potential for future collaborative projects with colleagues at Stavanger University.”

The European Master in Migration and Intercultural Relations (EMMIR) consortium, hosted by Stavanger University, is a master’s program that draws faculty from European and African universities and awards Erasmus Mundus master’s courses scholarships to third country scholars. Awardees come from institutions that are neither located in one of the 27 European Union member states nor in one of the European Free Trade Association
member states of Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

To qualify for the award, scholars were asked to document outstanding professional or academic experience and to demonstrate their specific contribution to EMMIR teaching, research and/or student tutoring activities. Scholars also need to hold a doctorate and have published in English.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Dr. da Cruz whose scholarship on International Relations has been published in many venues, including Latin American Politics, National Social Science Journal, and Journal of Third World Studies," said Laura Barrett, dean of the College of Liberal Arts.