by Jon Hovde and Maureen Anderson
Left For Dead, A Second Life After Vietnam received the Minnesota book award for Best Non-Fiction for 2006. Actor Fess Parker said it was the best Vietnam account he’d read in twenty years. The book describes co-author Jon Hovde’s journey from a fully ambulatory young man to a double amputation. Left For Dead is the 59-year-old veteran’s poignant memoir. Hovde wouldn’t talk about his experiences in Vietnam before he visited the Vietnam War Memorial. Yet he says that after his visit to the wall “you couldn’t shut me up.” Hovde was one of thousands of Vietnam Veterans at the commemoration of the Vietnam Memorial on November 13, 1982. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger’s words at the time echoed what many of the veterans felt but rarely said out loud.
“When your country called you, you came. When your country refused your honor, you remained silent. With time our nation’s wounds have healed. We have finally come to appreciate your sacrifices and pay you the tribute you so richly deserve. Welcome home.”
These words reflect Hovde’s life story. On January 8, 1968, at 19 years of age, his tour of duty came to an abrupt end. An anti-tank mine explosion ripped through the Armored Personnel Carrier he drove. As he was pulled from the burning wreckage, he wasn’t expected to live. His injuries were extremely severe and he lost a lot of blood. “When I woke up six days later…I wanted to die. I knew right away I’d lost an arm and a leg, but that wasn’t it. Everything hurt so much. God it hurt.”
The medical treatment he was given sometimes felt worse then his injuries. Hovde wasn’t sure he’d live, but if he did he wanted to keep his three-part pledge with God: “I will have the fastest car in Polk County, Minnesota; I will not be dependent on the government (I didn’t know how I was going to become a productive member of society given my amputations, but I knew I could figure that one out.); and, I will make a difference with my life.”
Hovde met the first two, and he’s still working on the third.
Left For Dead is a powerful story about what it took for one man to move forward as he healed from physical and mental disability. Now an author, Hovde is also a much sought-after public speaker. To get a copy of this book and to know more about the author, go to www.jonhovde.com