Soldier of Fortune

Retired ad execs like to tell war stories about their years in the trenches. Few can compare with those of former Young & Rubicam Worldwide chairman Ed Vick, a former U.S. Navy officer who commanded more than 100 combat patrols in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta and along the Cambodian border in the late ’60s. Vick, 58, has now turned those recollections into his first novel, Slingshot.

Based on actual events, the book follows a Navy river patrol on a mission to rescue a downed pilot in Viet Cong territory in 1968. Vick, who left Y&R a little more than a year ago, says he chose to publish the book himself “because (a) I could, and (b) because I didn’t want the hassle of sending it around for a year and getting rejected!”

He needn’t have worried, if early reviews are any indication. “One hell of a story. It all rings true … the men, the mission, the terror, the senselessness of it all,” says H. Scott Higgins, co-chairman of the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission.

The book is due out in the next few months, and Vick will donate all proceeds to veterans of the Navy’s River Patrol Force in Vietnam and to his local police and fire departments in Bedford, N.Y. Meanwhile, his next project doesn’t sound as harrowing. It’s a children’s book, he says, about “a nutty guy who dognaps famous people’s dogs, even though he can’t take them out in public. It’s amusing.”