Phantom Reflections: An American Fighter Pilot in Vietnam (Stackpole Military History Series)

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Hair-raising descriptions of aerial combat as seen from the cockpit of a fighter jet Thoughtful reflections on what it meant to fight in Vietnam

As the Vietnam War raged thousands of miles away, Mike McCarthy completed his flight training in the United States, eager to get into the war and afraid it would end before he could participate. He needn't have worried. By 1967, he was flying his F-4 Phantom II fighter with the U.S. Air Force's 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, also known as Satan's Angels. Before his tour ended, McCarthy completed 124 missions during the intense air war over North Vietnam and Laos and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. His memoir recreates the horror and exhilaration of air combat.

Pucker Factor 10: Memoir of A U.S. Army Helicopter Pilot in Vietnam

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"In 1963…there was no way I could have known, sitting in a classroom on that beautiful campus in Ohio, that by raising my hand I would be going to war in Vietnam and that I would see things, hear things and do things that most people cannot imagine."–James Joyce. The author was drawn into the United States Army through ROTC, and went through training to fly helicopters in combat over Vietnam. His experiences are notable because he flew both Huey "Slicks" and Huey "Gunships" the former on defense as he flew troops into battle, and the latter on offense as he took the battle to the enemy. Through this book, the author relives his experiences flying and fighting, with special attention given to his and other pilots' day-to-day lives–such as the smoke bombing of Disneyland, the nickname given to a United States Army-sponsored compound for prostitution. Some of the pilots Joyce served with survived the war and went on to have careers with commercial airlines, and many were killed.

Chained Eagle: The Heroic Story of the First American Shot Down over North Vietnam

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On August 5, 1964, while Lt. (jg) Everett Alvarez was flying a retaliatory air strike against naval targets in North Vietnam, antiaircraft fire crippled his A-4 fighter-bomber, forcing him to eject over water at low altitude. Alvarez relates the engrossing tale of his capture by fishermen, brutal treatment by the North Vietnamese, physical and mental endurance, and triumphant repatriation nearly nine years later in 1973. Alvarez spent more time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam than any other flier. As Senator John McCain, a fellow POW, has written, “During his captivity, Ev exhibited a courage, compassion, and indomitable will that was an inspiration to us all.” Indeed, the book, which was written with Anthony S. Pitch, is remarkable for its lack of rancor. Alvarez directs his strongest words against the small number of POWs who broke ranks and collaborated with the enemy. As one reviewer wrote, Alvarez “relates the misery of his condition with a detachment that robs it of its shock value.” Chained Eagle also tells the story of the Alvarez family’s ordeal during his years of imprisonment: His sister became an anitwar activist, his wife divorced him, and relatives died. Yet throughout his time as a prisoner of war, Alvarez remained duty-bound and held steadfast to his religious faith and the values enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

Dak to: The 173d Airborne Brigade in South Vietnam’s Central Highlands, June-November 1967

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Their officers and senior noncoms were drawn from the U.S. Army's elite. An all-volunteer unit of paratroopers, the "Sky Soldiers, " men of the 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate) were MACV's "fire brigade, " rushed to stem the tide wherever the fighting was heaviest. In 1967 the attention of General Giap and his North Vietnamese Army (NVA) focused on a small mountain hamlet in the Central Highlands called Dak To. From June to November 1967, in the hills and valleys surrounding Dak To, the 173d fought some of the bloodiest battles of the entire Vietnam War.

When Thunder Rolled: An F-105 Pilot over North Vietnam

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Ed Rasimus straps the reader into the cockpit of an F-105 Thunderchief fighter-bomber in his engaging account of the Rolling Thunder campaign in the skies over North Vietnam. Between 1965 and 1968, more than 330 F-105s were lost—the highest loss rate in Southeast Asia—and many pilots were killed, captured, and wounded because of the Air Force’s disastrous tactics. The descriptions of Rasimus’s one hundred missions, some of the most dangerous of the conflict, will satisfy anyone addicted to vivid, heart-stopping aerial combat, as will the details of his transformation from a young man paralyzed with self-doubt into a battle-hardened veteran. His unique perspective, candid analysis, and the sheer power of his narrative rank his memoir with the finest, most entertaining of the war.