At a pivotal moment of the final battle in This Corner of the Universe, Heskan tosses a compliment to Lieutenant Vernay. Anelace had taken numerous losses as several missiles had slipped past the corvette’s point defenses yet Heskan attempts to boost the confidence of his weapons officer.
“Stacy,” Heskan said, “you tell your folks they’re doing great. You forget about those near misses now; you’re keeping Ana alive—”
Not only is this consistent with Heskan’s personality, it was a homage to Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (ret). When I attended Officer Training School, my class was fortunate enough to have General Moore speak to us as a guest. At the time, I truly didn’t have a full understanding our how lucky we were, I just knew this gentleman was a retired general who served in Vietnam. Much later, I would read his account of the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley which would, even later, be made into a movie starring Mel Gibson, “We Were Soldiers.” Both are riveting even if the movie takes quite a few liberties with General Moore’s account of what really happened, especially at the end of the movie.
If you’ve read the book or seen the movie, you probably now recognize the homage to General Moore in TCOTU. During some of the most desperate fighting at Ia Drang, General (then Lieutenant Colonel) Moore’s liaison with the Air Force (AF First Lieutenant Charlie Hastings) was coordinating multiple, near continuous close air support missions on the battlefield. One such strike resulted in a horrible friendly fire incident (recounted in the movie and the book). After witnessing the devastating results, you might expect Moore to have severely chastised Hastings but instead, Moore showed a tremendous understanding and encouraged Hastings to forget about the last strike and keep up his good work.
General Moore spoke of this event when addressing my OTS class. He was, after all, lecturing a group of Air Force officer trainees. What he said has stuck with me nearly twenty years later.