About The Word Hunter-Rick DeStefanis

Mississippi Author/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.

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. Paratroop Drop 82nd Airborne scan0014

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

 Connect with Rick on:

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Recent Posts

Light to Moderate Tornadoes with Scattered Cats

Light to Moderate Tornadoes

January 11, 2020

Sometime Around 5:00 a.m. Saturday Morning

The Cedar View Community, DeSoto County, Mississippi

My yellow male labrador retreiver busted out of his laundry room digs Saturday morning and ran back to our bedroom where he jumped on the bed and began licking my face and whining. Do you know what it’s like to be awakened from a deep sleep with a big mutt licking your face? I cussed him, but my wife Janet said she thought she heard distant thunder. Blondie (yes, my dog is named after a big Swede paratrooper army buddy who had that name) has experienced many thunder storms without acting like a wussy, so I got up, stumbled into the family room and turned on the TV.

And of course, while I’m trying to punch up the TV channel, my cotton pickin’ cell phone starts some kind of screaming claxon warning. Technology! Damned it, Jones. Gimme a break. Anyway, sure enough, there it was, a tornado warning with a big red cone coming our way—Hernando, Lewisburg, Cedar View and Olive Branch. I went to the back door, opened it and got stampeded by a heard of cats running between my legs. All this before my first cup of coffee…D#~!!! What can I say? I am NOT a %&$ morning person…at least not before a half-pot of coffee.

So anyway, shortly thereafter the TV and the power went blip and we were suddenly and irrovocably left in the inky black predawn darkness. I told my wife to get into the interior hallway and close all the doors.  I went to the front door and walked out on the porch (It’s something us rednecks do when we ain’t sayin’ “Here, hold my beer.”). Yeah, there was a little lightning, but it seemed quiet…..at first.

Only then did the tornado sirens begin wailing. We hear them test once a week, every week, but there’s no comparison when you know it’s the real thing. Kinda makes the hair crawl on your neck. The practice sirens remind me of sniper school back at Fort Bragg–no comparison to the real thing. Back in my railroading days, I once had to jump from a speeding locomotive when its brakes failed. Never since has there been a roller coaster or carinval ride that can increase my heart rate.

So, I’m on the porch, and a warm and somewhat pleasant wind is blowing in my face and I’m thinking WTF? This is pretty nice for January. The wind chimes are tinkling gently…but then from the somewhere down to the southwest I hear it. At first, it was distant. It was an ominous thundering roar, and it sounded like an F-4 Phantom fighter jet on continuous afterburner. It was a long way off, but enough to convince me standing on the front porch might not be the brightest thing I ever did. So, I joined Janet in the hallway. With pillows over our heads, we waited and she began talking, but I told her to wait! I thought I could hear it. Yes, even though we were now in the interior hallway, I could hear it. It was getting closer.

Within a minute the roaring thunder was upon us, that fast, the house literally quaked, our ears popped and loud thumps began coming from debris hitting the outside walls and roof. I was pretty certain we were about to view the night sky minus our roof. And that was when my dear wife said it. Yes, she really did.

“It sounds like a freight train,” she said.

I looked out from beneath my pillow at her.

“I can’t believe you really said that.”

“Well, it does,” she said.

I stood and tossed my pillow at her.

“Where are you going? You can’t go out there!”

“Listen,” I said.

The only remaining sound was the now fading roar of the tornado as it moved away to the northeast.

“It’s over.”

And it was…that fast.

I switched on my flashlight and went to take a look. As I went to the front door, I noticed one of the cats huddled on a dining room chair. She looked like she had been plugged into a wall socket.

“Buttercup?” I said.

She let out a long and pained, “MEEEOOOOOWWW.”

I opened the front door, but that was a ‘no-go.’ The topmost limbs of an oak tree, that only moments before had been sixty or seventy feet off the ground, were now blocking the door and porch, along with a pile of rocking chairs and such. The root-ball of the same tree had also torn a gaping hole in the driveway when it fell. A four by twelve foot section of asphault was gone.

Nothing but a mess.

After a few minutes checking things with the flashlight, I realized we had barely escaped a major disaster. The roof remained largely intact, although it appeared to have been ‘sand-blasted.’ We were unhurt and the critters, although somewhat frazzled, were all accounted for.

I checked on several neighbors and everyone was okay. In our front and back yards, at least four huge oaks, three of them at least four-feet in diameter, were down, along with a big elm and several mature cedars. The fences were gone. The ceiling fan on the back deck was stripped and what trees that were left were decorated for tornado season with strips of pink home insulation. Even my Jimmy Buffet, “It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere” sign was shattered.

It’s Five O’clock Somewhere…..

There’s a three-foot diameter oak tree about sixty-feet behind the house. Its trunk is twisted like a giant cork-screw. There is another that is at least four-feet in diameter that is snapped off thirty feet above the ground. I’ll be chain-sawing when the cows come in, but I absolutely refuse to whine. NO! No way. We’ve got neighbors in the area whose homes are flat as flitters.

Pink Insulation…the decoration for Tornado Season

I had two life-long friends, Ted Spence and Mike Thron, drive down from Memphis and after a day’s work clearing debris and puttin up temporatry fences, we didn’t put a dent in the damage, but we celeberated with a bottle of Evan Williams single barrel bourbon. I’m gonna buy a couple more chains for the saw and celebrate more in the coming weeks. There’s nothing like the adrenaline high of dodging a bullet.

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