The Third Tour

Fiction - Military
176 Pages
Reviewed on 03/28/2017
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Trenton, New Jersey native Bob Stockton left high school in 1957 to join the Navy, where he served for 20 years, sailing the seven seas. His duty assignments sent him to serve aboard destroyers, diesel electric submarines, aircraft carriers, auxiliary vessels, reconnaissance attack squadrons and patrol gunboats in Vietnam. Bob, who retired as a chief petty officer, went on to receive undergraduate and graduate degrees. Since retiring from the Navy, Bob has worked as a shipyard welder’s helper, epidemiologist, adjunct graduate instructor, small business owner, pharmaceutical trainer and international radio host.
Exposure to Agent Orange while in Vietnam led to the Veterans Administration declaring Bob fully disabled. He now lives near his three children and four grandchildren in Jacksonville, Florida.
The Third Tour is the final book in the Zack Martin Navy Trilogy, following Stories from the US Navy I: A Suicide in the Mediterranean and Stories from the US Navy II: Friendly Fire.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Ray Simmons for Readers' Favorite

The Third Tour is an action/adventure novel by Bob Stockton. This in the third novel in a series called Stories from the U.S. Navy. Though I did not read the first two books, I plan to go back and read them. The Third Tour is great, so understandably I want to know the rest of the story. The protagonist, Zack Martin, is a fascinating character. I served in the Army, but I’m guessing there are complicated guys like Zack in every branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. I am always interested in tales of modern day military service, no matter which branch. As an Army man, I am most interested in guys from our friendly competitors in the Navy. Before I read The Third Tour, my go-to guy for reading stories about the Navy was the late, great Tom Clancy. Since he won’t be writing any more books, I will be looking for Bob Stockton books.

I loved the depiction of military life and how it changes a person. This is spot on. The Third Tour starts with Zack Martin having terrible combat related dreams. You would think that he might want to get away from combat and the military. You might think he would want to find a good woman and focus on wife and family. You would be wrong. Bob Stockton is the real deal, and in his writing you can see how the military becomes the central focus for anyone who stays in over that first tour. The characters are real. I have served with them. They are me and my buddies. The action is beautifully and realistically written without that “over the top” quality that ruins a lot of books by guys who haven’t been there. A great novel all the way round.

Sarah Stuart

Bob Stockton’s novel, The Third Tour, opens with a dramatic prologue. Radarman First Class Zack Martin is aboard USS Stroud, a ship patrolling the coastline of the Ca Mau peninsula, when she is mistakenly attacked by a friendly aircraft. He is injured, but his friend, Campbell, has his legs blown off. Zack is treated for his physical and mental wounds, but flashbacks of the horrific incident continue to haunt him. Zack refuses to apply for the psychiatric help available; he has invested over nine years in the career he loves, and knows he would be discharged on medical grounds. How does he cope when his next ship, USS Ralph James, is subsequently ordered to Vietnam, and his duties include fighting from the rivers? Zack must battle not only with the enemy, but to control his panic attacks. Zack Martin ignores his girlfriend’s pleas to ask for help in controlling his frightening panic attacks, boards USS Ralph James, and loses her love and support.

The Third Tour is interesting and easy to follow, with well-drawn characters. Told from Captain Thomas’s and other officers points of view, specialist activities aboard ship are easy to follow and I found them extremely interesting; it’s clear the author draws on personal experience. Zack reenters the story in “Rolling Thunder” or “rolling blunder,” but comes into his own as the action hots up, literally with a fire aboard! Then there’s Zack’s adventures onboard the gunboat, Bay St Louis… Bob Stockton’s characters come vividly alive, and in The Third Tour, he has created a story to captivate a wide audience. I recommend it to any reader who enjoys stories of realistic, fast-paced action.

Jack Magnus

The Third Tour is a military fiction collection written by Bob Stockton. Stockton was in the Navy for twenty years and served on "destroyers, submarines, gunboats and aviation reconnaissance squadrons." He retired after twenty years of service with the rank of Chief Petty Officer. The Third Tour is the third book in his series of novels featuring Zack Martin, a young enlisted man, but it can be enjoyed on its own. Zack, and the other Navy personnel the reader gets to know in this story, are all fictional characters; however, they are representative of the many soldiers, sailors and marines who served their country during the Vietnam War. After being injured aboard the USS Stroud, Martin was home with his girlfriend, Camille Moore, but he repeatedly relived the horrors of that attack in his dreams. Campbell, who had been on duty with him, had been mortally injured and he kept seeing the man as he begged for Martin's help; that scene had become the focus of horrific nightmares. Camille wanted Martin to go back to the doctor at the Balboa Naval hospital, but Martin felt that any sign of distress would result in his being discharged. Martin had already put in nine years in the Navy and wasn't about to jeopardize his Naval career over a few bad dreams. He began to feel as though Camille was trying to mold him into someone he was not, someone who would go off to college with her and then settle down to raise a family. Martin returned to the USS Ralph James and waited to hear what his next tour of duty would entail.

Bob Stockton's military fiction series of interconnected short stories, The Third Tour, is a gripping and suspenseful look at the efforts made by Navy personnel during the Vietnam War. As I began reading, I became increasingly involved in Martin's life and that of the other servicemen in the story. Stockton makes each aspect of this tale vividly come to life. You can hear the sounds of helicopters as they arrive with reinforcing fire and sense the tension and hidden dangers they were exposed to in the country parts of the story. There are some unforgettable moments in this story, especially when Martin and Gunny acknowledge the fear they all feel and how to cope with it. Stockton weaves a psychological element throughout these tales as Martin and other servicemen seem to increasingly feel that there is no life for them outside of the military and grow increasingly alienated from American culture as well as their families and friends. Stockton's writing style is perfectly suited for military fiction, and his characters are authentic and memorable. As I read The Third Tour, I was reminded yet again of the tremendous acts of duty, service and self-sacrifice performed by our veterans; reading of their acts of heroism is an enriching, if humbling, experience. The Third Tour is most highly recommended.