The author, Tim O'Brien, was awarded the Purple Heart during the Vietnam war, given to American soldiers who have been injured in the line of duty. After the war, he attended Harvard University, and later won his country's National Book Award in 1978 for his "Going After Cacciato," which the Bedford Introduction to Literature, Third Edition (ed. Michael Meyer) describes as having been "...judged by many critics to be the best work of American fiction about the Vietnam war..."
His Vietnam experiences are the foundation for several of his novels and collections of short stories.
This is true.
I had a buddy in Vietnam. His name was Bob Kiley, but everybody called him Rat.
Tim O'Brien is, in my opinion, one of the five greatest modern american writers today. This story was first published in Esquire, but then in his collection of stories on Vietnam, "The Things They Carried." It's worth a read. Really.