This really is a special book review for me because I know the author! Mike Dingman has served the military community in Virginia Beach, Virginia for almost 10 years. It was at a small coffeehouse ministry on Little Creek Naval Base in 2012 that I met him. I was attending the Musicians Basic Music Course at the Naval School of Music that, on a whim, I attended the Sunday night coffee house where Mike taught on occasion. He mentioned that he was meeting with young men for discipleship and I asked him if we could get together. From then on, we would get together most every Saturday while I was at the school for breakfast at Ihop. I have very fond memories of these times together. I remember one meeting he was asking me questions (the subject is a little fuzzy) and he told me that through all his years no one had given him the correct answer. It was around this time he asked me if I ever considered a career in ministry, to which I say to him today that I am well on my way.
Mike is a Vietnam Veteran and served as a Combat Medic and a conscientious objector in the 1960’s. In this book, he gives an account of his life as he saw it through letters and memories. Being awarded the Bronze Star with a combat V, Mike excelled at his position and talks in depth about his tour in Vietnam. It was interesting, knowing Mike, to read about his experiences because I had already heard many of the stories told in during the time we spent together in Virginia Beach. One in particular that stands out was the “oxymoron” of military intelligence. He was given Vietnamese Bibles to place along trails and at one intersection, he placed a Bible on a stump. After seeing enemy soldiers with the Bible, the Army thought this information could be used to gather intelligence on troop movements, not knowing that it was an American Soldier who left the Bible there in the first place! I also remember being quick uncertain about moving to Japan before I left. Mike had assured me that Japan is a country that is full of generous and polite people and that my anxieties should be squelched. He told me of the story of his own experience in Japan where a man invited him into his train car and then called a hotel for him in Tokyo and called him a taxi. I was really pleased to see this in the book as well!
I started this book and quickly became so enthralled with it that I soon was half way through. I finished the other half sometime later in one sitting as well. Mike is an excellent story-teller and the vivid descriptions of events are transcribed if they had happened yesterday. In addition, the many letters he utilizes throughout the book are helpful to get a first hand look at what being a Soldier in Vietnam was really like.
Most importantly, Mike leaned on his faith throughout his tour in Vietnam. Each chapter has a Bible verse that relates to the story. Mike talks consistently on the dredges of war and his letters reflect his unwavering dedication to the Gospel as well as his reliance on the will of God to bring him through the most traumatic experiences of war. He was a carrier of the Gospel message to the men he served with and provides details about subsequent conversions at the end. There is no doubt in my mind that God watched over him in Vietnam and provided him with protection to see his ministry flourish throughout the years.
A warrior could be defined as, “a person engaged in warfare,” and from a certain point of view, Mike would be the most likely warrior: the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not fight against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
Lastly, Mike’s book was self-published, so if you find this topic to be interesting to you, please think about buying a copy of “Unlikely Warrior” here: