The Sweet War Man by Paul Barcelo
A Love Story
About the Author

from the book cover

Paul Barcelo flew over 800 combat hours in Vietnam. He did this with 30 days emergency leave, one week of R&R to Austrialia and a week down with a twisted ankle from playing softball. He also fought being put at a desk because his college degree was in English.  

Picture at right was taken when I had brown hair. Note water jug. It went everywhere with me. Ahh cigarettes! Gave them up 1992.


            First Sequel NEWGUY, the continuing Saga of The Sweet War Man


            At the end of The Sweet War Man, Andrea returns to Randy Thayer as he is preparing to board the plane taking him to Vietnam. Her return marks the completion of the circle of their relationship begun in the first book. There is much more to their story. There is Faith Beckwerth, the neighborhood girl who also has a deep feeling for Randy. The story of these three characters, Randolph, Andrea and Faith continues in two sequels.

            In the first, NEWGUY, Randy begins the first half of his tour as a helicopter pilot. For military enthusiast and Vietnam veterans, the trip over is the beginning of the 365-day tour. Arrival in Vietnam for replacements in the latter part of the war took twenty-four hours by plane. Randy uses the refueling stops to communicate with the two women in his life. With Andrea back in his life, he wonders why he telephones Faith. Is it to apologize or tell her to go on with her life beyond him? Instead, he hooks her with temptation. He admits he is being selfish, but given where he is headed, isn't he allowed? He wants to know Faith as much as she seeks him. This is the major conflict of the first sequel.

            The first sequel is about Faith Beckwerth, the other girl. In The Sweet War Man she is introduced and her relationship with Randy provides an intriguing backdrop to his deep and sensual affair with Andrea. There was a beginning with her, which lead to their consummation in her cellar playroom. That incident ended their physical relationship together but did not end Faith's quest lasting through adolescent and young adult years. Why has she kept this quest alive? She loves Randy and has an iron determination to win him. Here is an excerpt from NEWGUY, their first telephone conversation on the day he leaves for Vietnam.


"Didn't get a chance to say good bye. I owe you that." Faith did not answer him and he strained to hear her breathing. "Shall I end this conversation now?"

                 "Of course not."

                "I could say I'm sorry."

                "You could, but that seems to be happening too frequently. I start to get there and then get thrown back."

"You took off!"

                "What would you expect me to do? Go give her a kiss?"

                "It's time to break away from me."

                "Is that what you want?"

                He hesitated and felt his heart accelerating as he strained to hear her breath in the receiver. "No. These last two weeks meant something to me," he stated honestly. Faith did not answer as she seemed to ponder what he had said. "When you ran out of the house, where did you go?"

                "To the rock." Her tone was low. "I could feel you there."

                "God Faith, you know where to hit me where I can feel it."

                "If you were standing next to me, I would hit you in a place where you would feel it. Really feel it." Her short, snickering chuckle sent sensations through his body. Her laugh dissipated some of her tension. "Why can't I hate you?" Now there was a clear resolve in her tone. It frightened him momentarily.

                "You don't want it to end, either?" He probed.

                "I got kicked pretty hard this morning. There seemed to be nothing left."

                "I've always known you to be tough."

                "It's an occupational hazard being around you." She paused and he realized she wanted to say something. Again he became suddenly tense in anticipation. "I knew you were hurting." Her tone indicated she had suppressed an angry thought. "The best I could think of to do was help you get over it. That certainly didn't work."

                The operator cut in to announce the call time was nearly over. Randolph said he had no more change. Quickly Faith asked for the phone number of the booth. After giving it and hanging up, looking at the second hand of his watch, it had not made the first rotation when the phone rang.

                "Do you remember anything of your sister's wedding?"

                "The tent!" Randolph giggled unevenly. "Haven't I earned the right to be a little selfish?"

                "No! Maybe if you had been sober, you couldn't have stood being with me."

"You never complained. Maybe you should have. You're the only one who really understands me."

"When are you going to realize that?"

"Maybe now when it's too late."

"Don't you dare talk like that. You must be positive. You are going to get through this year." Randolph did not answer her, immediately. Silently, he listened to her breathing, very faint from the phone connection. He felt as if he was gaining something from her and he wanted that feeling to continue. "When you walk naked in front of a man and that doesn't turn him on, something is wrong."

"That wasn't you, Faith."

"I gambled everything on that! It didn't work. You keep wanting me back, but not for that. What the hell kind of relationship does that give me?"

"Where are you now? Can anyone hear you?"

"I'm in the john with the door pulled shut, just like I used to do when I talked to Judy when we were teenagers. No one can hear me. For Christ's sake, Randy, give me some credit."

"I don't want to upset your mother."

"It's OK to rip my guts out, but make sure my mother doesn't hear me say I want to sleep with you."

"We were brought up that way. That's what we are."

"That still doesn't cut it! You have to give me the opportunity. How the hell have I got a chance, if you won't?"

"That night you came out of that bathroom has come back to me a lot of times. I've studied the memory of seeing your body," he lied.

"Nice to know you have any memory. I want something a little more substantial."

"Why can't you just be Faith to me?"

"That one time in our cellar so long ago has colored my memory, too. I've earned the opportunity to see if that still is real. You owe me, big time! Nothing else will do." More echoing breathing separated them. "How do you feel, now?"

He hesitated with his response. "Apprehensive." She did not answer and seemed to be waiting for him to continue. There were the reassuring sounds of her breathing. "A little while ago a strange feeling passed through my whole body. Never felt anything like that before. It was like a mild electrical shock. What do you suppose it means?"

"Just what you said. You're apprehensive. You aren't going to a knitting convention."

"Is that fear?"

"Probably. You can control it. I know you will, not like my brother!" At this moment he did not feel truly afraid, but he wanted something to continue molding her attitude more strongly toward him. Suddenly, that seemed very important to him. Tactically, he had always played his fears on her sensitivity. It had always worked and suddenly every advantage with her seemed very important, if only to keep her on the telephone. "That's normal and healthy. You should feel that way. That will make you careful." It was a response he could have predicted, but also desperately wanted.

"Faith, why do you know what's in my mind all the time?" He decided to stay on familiar ground with her.

"Because I'm there all the time. You are me. That's why I insist you stay healthy."

"How can I be a coward if I'm strapped to the seat of an aircraft? There won't be any place to run." He laughed, flippantly. Feeling exhilarated and stingy, he had her.

"This is what you've lived your whole life for. Maybe for my life, too. You'll be brave and strong. I'll be proud of you, even if you aren't a Marine."

"How about an Army Aviator?"

"We eat them for breakfast."

"With cinnamon or just plain toast?"

 "I know how important being a pilot is to you. Why do you think I wanted to be there when they gave you your wings? Randy, you can be dense at times." She laughed softly, a light and resolved sound that he felt in his toes.

"You knew and understood that. Some didn't."

The stimulating laughter stopped and she was silent. "If you hadn't made this call, maybe I would be free."

"Is that what you want?" Panic returned to his thoughts.

Her silence returned. Randolph discovered he was gripping the receiver of the phone and willing a response he wanted from her. "No. God be my witness, I wanted this call." There was a powerful resignation in her voice. It erased Randolph's sudden apprehension


            Midway through his year tour, Randy receives thirty days of emergency leave. His brother Teddy has been in a terrible accident. Once his condition is stabilized, Randy is faced with a difficult decision. Should he return to Vietnam, his unit and his desire to become an aircraft commander? He knows his unit lacks pilots since the withdrawal has slowed the flow of replacements. He knows he can easily request a compassionate reassignment. Andrea knows this also and pressures him to accept it. Faith understands his reasons and eventually tells him he should go back. He returns to Vietnam.

            Word count,  is 60,000 words.

            The second sequel will deal with the second half of Randy's tour as a helicopter pilot. He seeks the coveted title and authority of aircraft commander, the height of his training as a pilot. During a period of decreased American involvement, the enemy begins to make his present felt. This sequel will be about his relationship with Andrea and Faith. At first, because of his decision to return, Andrea again casts him out. She has the ability to get to Vietnam due to her step father's influence in the Nixon Administration. She uses it to get to him and reestablish their bond. In the meantime, Faith still waits, feeling she has a relationship that is still salvageable. Still undetermined is which woman Randy will go to.

            This sequel is again about the complicated love affair of three people set in the backdrop of a war that is slowly winding down. The books are about characters. The reading audience will be people who are interested in love relationships and military aficionados who want to know what it was like to be a helicopter pilot in Vietnam when there were few friendies beneath you.