Vietnam veteran Michael March is living his second childhood. He writes, goes to the gym, spends time with his family and girlfriend, and sings in the choir at his church.
He’s also an author. March has written a fictionalized tale of serving in Vietnam and describes his book, “Each One a Hero: A Tale of War and Brotherhood,” as a war novel in the tradition of “Catch-22” or “M*A*S*H.” It’s based on his year as a member of the 11th Armory Cavalry Regiment.
Many mornings, March sits at one of the large chairs in the corner at the Panera Bread restaurant on Dunwoody’s Mount Vernon Road writing, editing his books, and hashing out more ideas.
A loquacious 70-year-old, March has piercing blue eyes and long sandy hair peppered with grey. He moved to Sandy Springs five years ago from New York City to help his brother with their 90-year-old mother. Two of his children soon followed, as did his ex-wife. Now March is happy to talk about the accomplishments of his children and the two other books he’s in the midst of writing.
March wrote an early draft of his novel more than 22 years ago when he lived in New York, but life and raising a family seemed to get in the way.
After he moved to Atlanta, he unearthed the floppy disk holding the story, and decided to revive it. He spent many months rewriting and trying to find the right publisher before partnering with Hellgate Press, a publisher that specializes in military history and veteran memoirs.
March grew up in the 1960s and describes himself as a “peace and love hippie.” His father urged him to go to Fashion Institute of Technology for industrial engineering so he could manage a knit shirt factory in North Carolina, but Marsh followed his passion for music.
“It was all I lived for,” he said.
In 1965, March competed in a battle of the bands at the World’s Fair in New York and took seventh place.
March was drafted into the 11th Armory Cavalry Regiment and spent a year in Vietnam coordinating artillery fire. At the base camp, he remembers, he played guitar for his fellow soldiers. He eventually went through four guitars while in the army, he said.
“I did my year and got out, but I also needed to write about it,” he said. “The experience taught me about God, life and how to be a better a person and use the experience to do good. My parents thought I was out of mind when I came home, because all I wanted to be was a good person and God wanted me to represent good.”
He said a stranger, who had been a sniper, sought him out, saying, “I’ve been looking for you. I’m a messenger from God. He sent me to find you. If God can forgive me, he can forgive anyone. Our generation is going to save the world.”
March used that encounter as the climax of his book. His military service, he said, “taught me how to live life and be appreciative.”
Writing his book and its related spinoffs, he said, has brought a different sort of fulfillment. A fellow veteran told him he thought he was reading about himself, truly making the “blood and guts” of war into a story of connection, brotherhood and shared experiences.
“I don’t believe in hurting others and taking lives,” Marsh said, “but you do what you need to do when your country calls on you.”
For more information about “Each One a Hero,” see hellgatepress.com.