I was recently getting more interest in special ops during the Vietnam War.
Here are the titles of some books I read tht I found very interesting. (The short resumes of the books are those I got from Amazon, the number of stars ***** are reflecting my judgement on the book)
Anyway there are three out of the following book that in my opinion are a five strs and a “must read”:
- Secret Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines by John Plaster
- Low Level Hell by Hugh Mills
- Taking Fire by Ron Alexander
Helicopter crews in Vietnam:
Hugh Mills - Low Level Hell [*****]
Hugh L. Mills, Jr. served two tours in Vietnam as a scout platoon leader and one as a AH-1 Cobra gunship pilot. The aeroscouts of the 1st Infantry Division had three words emblazoned on their unit patch: Low Level Hell. It was then and continues today as the perfect concise definition of what these aviators experienced as they ranged the skies of Vietnam from the Cambodian border to the Iron Triangle. The Outcasts, as they were known, flew low and slow, aerial eyes of the division in search of the enemy. Too often for longevity’s sake they found the Viet Cong and the fight was on. These young pilots (19-22 years-old) “invented” the book as they went along.Mills tells the combat experiences of these aviators. The first-hand account of a special breed of Vietnam aviator, by a highly decorated pilot whose exploits in armed helicopters have become legendary. His chopper wasn’t designed to fight, but 21-year-old Hugh Mills had other ideas. His troop of scouts made up their own rules and made aerial warfare history.
Ron Alexander - Taking Fire: The True Story of a Decorated Chopper Pilot [*****]
Nicknamed “Mini-Man” for his diminutive stature, a mere five-foot-three and 125 pounds in his flight boots, chopper pilot Ron Alexander proved to be a giant in the eyes of the men he rescued from the jungles and paddies of Vietnam. With an unswerving concern for every American soldier trapped by enemy fire, and a fearlessness that became legendary, Ron Alexander earned enough official praise to become the second most decorated helicopter pilot of the Vietnam era. Yet, for Ron, the real reward came from plucking his fellow soldiers from harm’s way, giving them another chance to get home alive. In Taking Fire, Alexander and acclaimed military writer Charles Sasser transport you right into the cramped cockpit of a Huey on patrol, offering a bird’s eye view of the Vietnam conflict. Packed with riveting action and gritty “you-are-there” dialogue, this outstanding book celebrates the everyday heroism of the chopper pilots of Vietnam.
Randy Zahn - Snake Pilot: Flying the Cobra Attack Helicopter in Vietnam [****]
Based on audiotapes he recorded during the war and sent home to his family, Randy Zahn’s Snake Pilot recounts his experiences flying AH-1 Cobra helicopters during the Vietnam War. First deployed in Vietnam in 1967 and loaded with a formidable arsenal of weaponry, the Cobra was the first helicopter designed from inception as an attack aircraft. It dramatically changed the nature of the war in Vietnam by offering the Army, for the first time, its own powerful and highly accurate weapons platform for close-air-support missions. Randy Zahn arrived in Vietnam shortly before the 1970 U.S. invasion of Cambodia, one of the most impressive demonstrations by the Cobra in the war. He describes his stunning transformation from a naive, middle-class teenager from southern California to a hardened killer during his tour in Vietnam. Unlike the pilots who flew the fast-moving strike jets, Zahn experienced the war “up close and personal,” witnessing the grisly effects of the Cobra’s firepower on enemy soldiers. The author does not glorify killing but rather explains in sharp relief the kaleidoscope of emotions associated with combat: fear, revenge, hate, remorse, pity, and even ecstasy. He captures many of the ironies and nuances inherent in Vietnam, especially during the final years of the conflict. Zahn displays a sensitivity rarely found in memoirs written by battle-hardened warriors. This human element, combined with the vast amount of archival research and interviews with members of his former unit, ensures that Snake Pilot will become the definitive account of the role helicopters played in Vietnam.
Xin Loi, Viet Nam: Thirty-one Months of War: A Soldier’s Memoir [****]
No one in Vietnam had to tell door gunner and gunship crew chief Al Sever that the odds didn’t look good. He volunteered for the job well aware that hanging out of slow-moving choppers over hot LZs blazing with enemy fire was not conducive to a long life. But that wasn’t going to stop Specialist Sever.
From Da Nang to Cu Chi and the Mekong Delta, Sever spent thirty-one months in Vietnam, fighting in eleven of the war’s sixteen campaigns. Every morning when his gunship lifted off, often to the clacking and muzzle flashes of AK-47s hidden in the dawn fog, Sever knew he might not return. This raw, gritty, gut-wrenching firsthand account of American boys fighting and dying in Vietnam captures all the hell, horror, and heroism of that tragic war.
Robert Manson - Chickenhawk [***]
More than half a million copies of Chickenhawk have been sold since it was first published in 1983. Now with a new afterword by the author and photographs taken by him during the conflict, this straight-from-the-shoulder account tells the electrifying truth about the helicopter war in Vietnam. This is Robert Mason’s astounding personal story of men at war. A veteran of more than one thousand combat missions, Mason gives staggering descriptions that cut to the heart of the combat experience: the fear and belligerence, the quiet insights and raging madness, the lasting friendships and sudden death—the extreme emotions of a “chickenhawk” in constant danger.
(too long post - more books to follow)