I am a military brat. My dad was a career Marine Captain during the Vietnam era, and I grew up in military culture.
Reading Perry’s memoir of his father, the Master Sergeant, was both like finding a new friend and discovering an old one. The book’s title is You Are So Far Behind, You Think You Are In Front which is one of the Master Sergeant’s many sayings. The Master Sergeant served in the Army. Though of different ranks and different branches, the Master Sergeant reminds me of my dad in some respects–primarily in the sense of duty they both felt to their country and their refusal to tolerate nonsense.
Perry’s memoir of his father provokes both laughter and tears as many military stories do if told well.
Perry has brought his father back to life on these pages and oh how I wish I had had the opportunity to meet the Master Sergeant. Matthew Perry tells his father’s story very well.
Unlike me, the author did not grow up a military brat. He came along after his father had ended his service. The Master Sergeant served in the Pacific Theater of World War II and Korea. My dad named my brother after MacArthur. It is clear the two men had things in common. Perry acquired his middle name after General Douglas “I Shall Return” MacArthur. You will need to read the book to find out why.
In fact, I encourage you to read the book to find out many whys. Military service and military culture are important to the American experience. This book will give you some insight as to why.
I am writing my memoir about growing up as a Marine Corps brat while my dad did four tours of Vietnam. The first fourteen years of my life match up to the timeline of conflict in Vietnam to its final days. It’s been hard going working on the manuscript. Perry’s book gave me the kick in the rear I needed to get going again as well as some ideas on how to make my father come alive on my pages.
I have a feeling my father, Captain C. L. Kinsey, would have liked the Master Sergeant very much. My dad often wove tales of his Gunny Sergeants. He especially admired ingenuity and the can-do spirit–two things the Master Sergeant had an abundance of.
My dad was very much a proud Marine, perhaps the quintessential Marine. He admired Army personnel and when my son wanted GI Joe for his birthday, my dad saw to it that the wish was granted. The Captain would have said Semper fi to the Master Sergeant. Lord only knows how the Master Sergeant would have responded.
The book, You Are So Far Behind, You Think You Are In Front, is available at Amazon here.