About The Word Hunter


Mississippi Author and Writer Rick DeStefanis

writes below about the motivation behind his award-winning Vietnam War Series.

Rick DeStefanis, The Word Hunter
Rick DeStefanis, The Word Hunter

A military veteran and former paratrooper who served with the 82nd Airborne Division from 1970 to 1972, Rick brings a wide variety of life experiences to his writing. While his Southern Fiction, such as his novel Tallahatchie, is qualified by his lifelong residence in the South, it is his military training and expertise that informs his Vietnam War Series. These novels include Melody Hill, the award-winning novel The Gomorrah Principle, Raeford’s MVP and the latest, the 2018 Best Indie Book Award winner for Literary/Mainstream Fiction, The Valley of the Purple Hearts. An avid outdoorsman, Rick lives in rural Mississippi with his wife Janet, five cats and three dogs. And when he’s not photographing wildlife, he writes. Learn more at his Amazon Author Page.

Rick DeStefanis Writes About The Word Hunter and his Vietnam War Series

I grew up in the South, and though I write fiction, my stories are true reflections of my experiences and the people I know. Writing southern fiction without denying the truth requires care inasmuch as it can easily offend neighbors and friends. Southern writers seldom cross that line with cheap exhibitionism, while mimics from other parts of the country do so with relish in cliché-filled creations that come off like a Hollywood actor imitating a Southern accent. When I laugh and cry, it is not at or about my fellow southerners, but with them. We are a proud people, and because we speak slowly and appreciate a less chaotic lifestyle does not mean we are not intelligent or self-driven.

Paratroop Drop 82nd Airborne scan0014

I served as a paratrooper in the military, and although I am not a combat veteran, I know the Vietnam era and have many personal friends who served in that war. After jump school at Fort Benning I was separated from most of my classmates and friends who went either to the 173rd Airborne Brigade or the 101st Airborne in the Republic of Vietnam while I was ordered to the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg.

Upon their return, many of my buddies rejoined me at Fort Bragg where I had gone through extensive and continuous training while they had stared the beast in the eye for a year. Most of them would talk about their experiences only after a few glasses of bourbon, but none would speak about them to anyone outside the military. And when I offered to write their stories as nonfiction accounts, each one to a man refused. They did not want to relive those horrific experiences and also because they were humble heroes who had left behind some of our buddies in those mountainous jungles. The “fiction” I write is closely based on the stories these men shared with me in bars around Fayetteville, North Carolina and during reunions years afterward.

With these men in mind, as well as all veterans who have given of themselves for their country, I attempt to produce the best Vietnam War Stories possible. And as with my southern fiction, when I write Vietnam War fiction, it is with the knowledge that I am telling the stories of these men with an unvarnished truth that reflects their experiences. These combat veterans have earned that along with my unfailing respect.

Rick DeStefanis books can be purchased at Amazon.com or ordered through a bookstore near you.

Please enjoy these articles about my books

Valley of the Purple Hearts

Rawlins: No Longer Young

Tallahatchie

Recent Posts

I Bid Farewell to a Friend Today.

Robert Cord Foster

1966 – 2021

I bid farewell to a friend today. I’m not quite sure what should be said, but one thing is certain: A writer’s responsibility is to face and recognize his friend’s departure with carefully chosen words. It is a responsibility owed to his friend’s family and to others experiencing the same grief.
Cord’s wife called very early one morning this week, and when she said, “This is Roxanne,” I knew at that moment what I faced—grief so deep that words would be but weak vessels to describe it. He had died in the crash of his crop-duster aircraft. I am fortunate in as much as God has blessed me with several such friends as Cord Foster, people closer to me than many of my own family. This long ago left me with the selfish wish that they might all outlive me. Cord did not.
There are so many things, so many emotions, so many thoughts I want to express, but the task exceeds my abilities as a writer. To know Cord—that is to truly know him beyond the grumpy old façade that hid his heart—was to know the man to whom Roxanne had given her heart. I knew that Cord Foster.
Roxanne called me from Cord’s cell phone. She was able to call because she is the kind of woman only Cord Foster could have loved. I say this, because Roxanne went to the crash site where her husband died only days before, searched, and found Cord’s cell phone so that she might call his friends. Think about the courage this took.

Cord’s wife, Roxanne, bids him farewell as ag-pilots from across the South do the missing man fly-over.

Cord’s Spirit Soars

 

 

 

 

 

 

I met Cord only a few years ago, but we have sat in the deer stand together, and watched the sun set on the Mississippi Delta, while sharing a flask of Evan Williams. We also shared a lot of personal thoughts on everything from God to our families, and our friends. Cord also helped me with the technical aspects of my soon to be published novel, something that now seems trivial compared to the reality of his loss. I’ll dedicate it to him when it’s published. It’s a weak gesture, but it’s all I can offer.
Many years ago, Cord, like his father, flew aircraft for the United States Department of State. His father flew in southeast Asia. Decades later, as a young man, Cord flew in South and Central America. They didn’t get to wear uniforms with ribbons and medals, and frankly, much of what they did in the service of their country was considered classified. I speak from a position of knowledge and my intent here is only to express to you, his friends and family, that Cord deserves no less respect than any decorated military veteran.
To say goodbye to a friend is never easy, but I say so with the knowledge that someday we hope to share with him again those same blue skies, tailwinds, and blessings we wish for all our departed friends. Cord, I say to you, and I say to Roxanne, you will be my friends always and forever.
Fly high.

Fly High

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