MALVERN >> A Downingtown native, who penned his own book about the death of his cousin in Vietnam, will host a book signing Saturday at the Malvern Public Library from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

David Venditta, a retired journalist, wrote “Tragedy at Chu Lai” after hearing a story about the death of his cousin, Nicky Venditti. Although from the same family, their last name is spelled slightly different.

The book, he said, took him approximately 20 years to finish.

“It was very satisfying to finally complete it. The reason I did this story, the reason it took me 20 years to do it, was so his sacrifice would be remembered,” David said.

Venditti, according to David, grew up in the Malvern area, attended Great Valley High School, and joined the United States Army to become a helicopter pilot.

According to David, his cousin was severely injured when an Army instructor threw a live grenade in a classroom at Chu Lai, thinking it was a dummy. The incident, according to David, occurred July 10, 1969. His cousin died several days later.

In “Tragedy at Chu Lai,” David explores the circumstances surrounding his cousin’s death, questioning what he determined to be a lapse in the historical record about the incident, citing a lack in documentation and investigation by the United States military.

David said he hardly knew his cousin. He said Venditti grew up in Malvern while he grew up and Downingtown. Venditti was five years older than David and has little memory of his older cousin, save for a brief conversation at a large family picnic.

“A good deal of the story,” David said, “is getting to know the cousin I hardly knew.”

Gary Noller, editor-in-chief of the Americal Journal, a publication dedicated to preserving the history of the 23rd Infantry Division of the United States Army, wrote a positive review of the book.

“He (David) did an excellent job for his cousin Nicky,” Noller wrote in his review.

The 23rd Infantry Division is commonly known as the Americal Division. Noller summarized the effort David went through in order to research his book, and stated that his experience as a journalist “gave him investigative skills he put to good use.”

David graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1976, and worked at various publications including the The Daily Intelligencer in Bucks County and The Morning Call in Allentown.

To contact Daily Local News staff writer Adam Farence, email afarence@dailylocal.com, or call 610-235-2647.

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