E. Michael Helms turned down a chance to play college baseball and joined the United States Marine Corps after high school graduation. As a rifleman with the Second Battalion, Fourth Marines (“The Magnificent Bastards”) he was involved in some of the heaviest fighting of the Vietnam War, including the 1968 Tet Offensive. Among his awards and decorations are the Combat Action Ribbon and Purple Heart Medal for wounds received in action. He was honorably discharged in 1969.
Helms’ memoir of the Vietnam War, The Proud Bastards, has been called “As powerful and compelling a battlefield memoir as any ever written . . . a modern military classic,” and has been in print for most of the past twenty years. Originally published by Kensington/Zebra in 1990, it was republished in 2004 by Simon & Schuster/Pocket Star, and remains in print. It has currently sold around 50,000 copies (Pocket Star edition), and is a past hardcover selection of The Military Book Club. Rights were sold to a Czech Republic publisher and a hardcover edition has been released.
His work has also appeared in the books: Semper Fi: Stories of U.S. Marines from Boot Camp to Battle (Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2003); Soldier’s Heart: Survivors’ Views of Combat Trauma (The Sidran Press, 1995); and Two Score and Ten: The Third Marine Division History (Turner Publishing, 1992).
As a combat veteran, Helms’ firsthand experiences help bring realism to the battle scenes and everyday life of the common soldier depicted in his Civil War novel, Of Blood and Brothers. An avid student of the Civil War since childhood, Michael’s story is of two southern brothers who find themselves serving in opposing armies during America’s tragic war. Ultimately, there can be only one victor, on the field of battle and in the heart of the woman both love, and, as the brothers discover, winning the peace can prove as costly as winning the war.
Helms currently resides with his wife Karen in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in South Carolina’s beautiful Upstate region. He enjoys all things outdoors and continues to write on topics that grab his heart.