Letters from Lee

One Man's Story of Vietnam

A soldier’s experiences in times of war are as varied and filled with impact as the cause he or she fights to defend. The collection of soldier memories in Letters from Lee: One Man’s Story of Vietnam are those of one man, Lee Heckman, who took up arms during the Vietnam War.

It’s been more than 40 years since Lee Heckman was called upon to fight that war. Although he has spent the years since in a peace-filled Nebraska town, his nights have been anything but. The effects of posttraumatic stress disorder have brought the war back to him in waves as deep as the South China Sea, couched in dreaded nightmares, panic attacks and flashbacks.

The Letters from Lee contained in this book were written to a girlfriend back home during the days of a young man’s life when all he longed for were a fast car, a girl on his arm and a cold beer. These dreams were crushed by an Army ticket to a tropical country in Southeast Asia. Lee’s letters, written from the viewpoint of an H-13 Loach helicopter during the terror of war, mix with Heckman’s memories in a look back at the war from a perspective of four decades.

Whether you are a seasoned veteran or can’t locate Vietnam on a world map, you’ll find Letters from Lee to be a sometimes irreverent but always honest story of Vietnam.


I grew up during this era, and felt that there was a confusing barrage of information about the war and our role in it. Lee's letters show us the point of view of a lonely, typical young man working to do his best in difficult circumstances, and show us the horror of war first hand. The author fills in the history of the war in a clear, informative way. I felt like this book gave me a greater understanding of PTSD, and the damage that was done by the negativity and criticism that the vets received when the returned home. A good read!


I could not put the book down! Not only is it captivating, it is an important link to help us understand some of what happened during the Vietnam War. No historical account can sink in without the words pressed on a page by someone experiencing it firsthand. LaRayne Topp skillfully fills us in with the harsh realities between the modest lines this young soldier writes to ease the minds of loved ones back home. His earnest work ethic and intelligence won me over as he does the life threatening job he promised to do during an unpopular war, causing long term affects to himself.

Profile Photo LaRayne Topp

About LaRayne Topp

LaRayne M. Topp has enjoyed the world of freelance writing since she began putting words together for the local newspaper in 1987. A journalist and English major by education, Topp is a member of the Nebraska Writers Guild, a writing organization founded in 1925 by Nebraska writers of note: Willa Cather, Bess Streeter Aldrich, John G. Neihardt, Mari Sandoz and others. She is a stringer for a daily newspaper; has been a contributing editor for a number of regional and national magazines; and is also both a novelist and non-fiction writer, both traditionally published and an Indie author. Her books are available in digital or print on Amazon. They include the following:

Her most recent: Just Go: The Idea Book, Discovering What You Have to Offer;

Eighty-one Seconds: The Attack and Aftermath as Tornadoes Hit Pilger, Stanton, Wakefield and Wisner, Nebraska;

Letters from Lee: One Man's Story of Vietnam;

Women at the Reins: Farm Memories Based on the Collection From Mules to Microwaves

Images of America: Cuming County, Nebraska, by Arcadia Publishing

All books by LaRayne Topp

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