Hunting the Viet Cong: The Counterinsurgency in South Vietnam 1961- 1963 by Darren Poole

As we have come to expect of the British military history publisher Halion, Darren Poole’s Hunting the Viet Cong: The Counterinsurgency in South Vietnam 1961- 1963. Vol. I: The Strategic Hamlet Programme (Halion/Casemate, 96 pp., $29.95, paper) is a quality product rich in photographs, illustrations, maps, and a concise narrative supported by extensive research.   

This book, however, differs from most military history books about the Vietnam War in that it is not about the battles nor the units that fought them. Instead, it tackles a difficult and complicated question: Were counterinsurgency efforts in South Vietnam successful?  

That subject has been fraught with controversy since the early 1960s, starting with the January 1963 Battle of Ap Bac, which shaped President Kennedy’s perception that the war was not going well.  

According to the famed John Paul Vann, who was then a U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel advising the ARVN at Ap Bac, the South Vietnamese Army lacked the initiative to defeat the Viet Cong, lost the battle, and thereby demonstrated that in the greater context the American/South Vietnamese counterinsurgency program was not working.   

That battle, however, plays no role in this book. Instead, Poole, a British military historian who specializes in insurgency, makes the argument that the Viet Cong had to adapt to overcome significant reversals suffered in the face of a U.S.-South Vietnamese counterinsurgency strategy that was actually working.   

The most important component of both insurgency and counterinsurgency in the Vietnam War were the people who lived in villages who were loyal to whoever was dominant and protected them. The American Strategic Hamlet Program, which placed villagers in heavily guarded, centralized hamlets, put the Viet Cong on the defensive.   

Poole says the increasing isolation of Viet Cong units from their lifeblood in the villages and their source of manpower, the peasants, proved the efficacy of the Strategic Hamlet Program. He nots the increasing casualties suffered by the Viet Cong as ARVN units aggressively pursued them. Where the Viet Cong could get to villages, they recognized that fear was a powerful tool and used violence to convince villagers into supporting them.

Although Darren Poole does not mention it in this volume, it was during this period that the North Vietnamese Politburo recognized it had to respond to the South’s counterinsurgency program by significantly increasing its involvement in South Vietnam with conventional manpower and weapons.  

Volume I makes it clear that at this point in the war counterinsurgency was the key to victory for the South Vietnamese.

–John Cirafici

MASH Doctor in Vietnam: by Reuel S. Long

Reuel Long has lived a highly challenging life. In the Vietnam War as an anesthesiologist, sometimes surgeon, and too-frequently a soul-blistering, life-or-death triage doctor, he dealt with more gore and destruction than any human being should have to endure. His compassion for the troops he treated taught him to detest leaders such as President Richard Nixon who prosecuted the war despite preaching otherwise.

Long tells his life story in MASH Doctor in Vietnam: A Memoir of the War and After (McFarland, 227 pp. $29.95, paperback; $13.49, Kindle). He begins by unfolding his experiences as a young man and progressed to the present time with an emphasis on his work treating people with combat wounds. 

Long smoothly describes his medical training and his initial jobs in emergency rooms that prepared him for his medical responsibilities as an “obligated volunteer” (draftee) in and around Chu Lai and Da Nang during his 1970-71 Vietnam War tour of duty. At the 27th MASH unit and then the 95th Evacuation Hospital, he handled countless offbeat situations that built on each other. During that year, his life held no dull moments.

He provided anesthesia for amputations and eviscerations and laparotomies for bowel perforations and bleeding, as well as debridements of fragmentation wounds, and craniotomies. Case after case of unsightly mutilations depressed him. As he says: “All of us honed our skills and got very efficient at our tasks, but at a terrible price.”

Long more than captures the trauma of the time with stories such as a soldier begging doctors not to amputate his legs; a shattered man with half of a body striking a nurse so he can be left alone to die; and the image of a torso hacked by spinning helicopter rotor blades.

For Long’s MASH team, the destruction of bodies reached a climax when the North Vietnamese Army attacked Fire Support Base Mary Ann on March 28, 1971, killing 30 Americans and wounded nearly 80. Overwhelmed by the number of casualties and threatened by rocket attacks, doctors and other medical personnel wore helmets and flak jackets in the operating rooms.   

Since the war, Long has concentrated on doctoring and fatherhood, which he talks about at length. He has worked and lived primarily in his hometown of Flint, Michigan. Forty-four years after the war, Long met and befriended Jim Dehlin, a double-amputee he had helped recover after being serverely wonded in a booby-trap explosion in Vietnam. Long includes a mini-memoir of Dehlin with many photographs about the former lieutenant’s highly successful post-war life.

Vietnam War MASH hospital medical personnel waiting for casualties

Taking a last look at events from a half century gone by, the final chapter of MASH Doctor in Vietnam offers a tell-all account of the jamming problem of the U.S. Army’s M-16 rifle. Metallurgist Dan Sebastian helped Long with his insider knowledge of the issue. Although Sebastian’s information was classified, the two men decided it should be publicized even at this late date. Long cites the case as an example of governmental mismanagement that needlessly cost the lives of American fighting men.

I enjoyed the book because, in thirty years of both military and civilian medical duties, Reuel Long accepted challenges beyond the norm and solved problems by improvising solutions. His independent character favored his patients above the medical administrators, and he freely shared his skills and time among the needy.       

–Henry Zeybel

Passing Time by W.D. Ehrhart

Passing Time: Memoir of a Vietnam Veteran against the War (McFarland, 303 pp. $19.99, paperback; $10.99, Kindle) is a newly published revised edition of W.D. Ehrhart’s classic 1989 memoir of his time in the Vietnam War and a few years after. Ehrhart is considered by many to be the most important American poet to come out of the war. He served thirteen months as a U.S. Marine in South Vietnam.

Passing Time is the second of Ehrhart’s memoir trilogy. The others are Vietnam-Perkasie: A Combat Marine’s Memoir (1983) and Busted: A Vietnam Veteran in Nixon’s America (1995).

Bill Ehrhart enlisted in the Marines right out of high school in the spring of 1966. Since he was only 17, he needed his parents’ signatures to join. He wanted to go to Vietnam, and got his wish, serving a combat-heavy tour based at Con Thien and seeing action throughout I Corps. He recalls a time when he was reading a letter from his mother encouraging him to stop smoking while he was in the middle of an artillery assault.

On one mission Ehrhart moved from one hamlet to another over several hours, blowing up and burning hooches. At the time he hated such actions, but felt as though they were necessary. He had only wanted to do his duty as he had been raised to understand it. Receiving a Purple Heart, he considered it a “booby prize” since all you need to do to get it is “to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

After serving in Vietnam the young Marine returned to a country that appeared, in his eyes, to have radically changed. “When I’d gotten back to the States, I discovered that in my absence America had become an alien place in which and to which I no longer seemed to belong.” He volunteered to go back to Vietnam, but was sent to Okinawa and then the Philippines.

Once he was out of the Corps Ehrhart began attending classes at Swarthmore College in his home state of Pennsylvania. He was older than most of his fellow students and soon became aware that he was likely the only Vietnam War veteran at the school.

In college he had a change of heart about the war and his role in it. Large events spurred the changes, such as the May 1970 National Guard shootings at Kent State University and the release of the Pentagon Papers, but he also had reoccurring nightmares of atrocities he had witnessed.

Ehrhart (left) in country

Ehrhart joined the student antiwar movement, he says, when he realized “It was time to stop the war.” Once he became involved, he went all in.

Many of sentences in Passing Time are naturally poetic. Such as:

“The moon was almost full, and the sky was clear, and the trees and buildings cast shadows on the dark earth.”

“As the gray false dawn gave way to a glowing pink fringe on the edge of a cloudless sky….”

“My whole life didn’t really lie in front of me, but rather lay behind me broken and scattered like the bodies of the Vietnamese I had left broken and scattered among the green rice shoots.”

It’s great to see Bill Ehrhart’s work republished by McFarland. His memoirs and poems need to be read as long as there is a memory of America’s participation in war in Vietnam.

–Bill McCloud

Saigon Spring by Philip Derrick

Saigon Spring (Sonnyslope Press, 301 pp., $14.99, paper; $2.99, Kindle) is a Vietnam War novel by Philip Derrick. Based on the dedication, Derrick was or is a teacher at a high school, and served in Korea during the Vietnam War. This is his second novel. The first is Facing the Dragon (2018).

Both books’ main character is James Peterson. Using the name Travis Nickles, Peterson returns from Vietnam in 1971. He is spit on and called a baby killer. However, four years later he finds himself back in the war and is there for communist takeover of South Vietnam in April 1975.

Nickels is surprised to learn he was sent back to Vietnam to be used as bait to get an enemy agent who has him as his target. The book’s big mystery is why him. The spy is called the Salamander. 

The book intercuts between chapters on Nickels and on the Salamander whose story is told in flashbacks. He joined the Viet Cong young and rose rapidly because of his ruthlessness. During Tet ‘68, he was in charge of the lists of those to be executed in Hue. In 1975, his mission is to make sure no resistance movement keeps the fight going after South Vietnam falls. 

And he adds a side mission to kill Nickels. Neither Nickels nor the reader know what the Salamander’s beef is. The American, even with a target on his back, moves around the doomed South Vietnamese capital. He gets involved with an orphanage. Inevitably, he and the Salamander cross paths.

I wish I had known about the first book before I read this one. Early in Saigon Spring, Nickels makes the intriguing comment that he had assumed a soldier’s identity to go to Vietnam and get revenge for his family. I was hooked, but it turns out the book never explains what happened. The first book does.

Derrick means for the novel to be a mystery, but it is not a standard one. He does not offer clues about why the Salamander is after Nickels. Instead, we get a big twist at the end. Most of the chapters spell out Nickels’ arc. They are told in first person. The Salamander chapters are more concise on his about his activities. He is a dastardly villain and as Derrick pushes the spit-opon-veteran trope, he also gives us the V.C.-were-cruel trope.

Derrick’s writing is fluid and the book has a good flow to it. The chapters are short and advance the narrative efficiently. Nickels is as appealing as the Salamander is loathsome. He is a good person who tries to help others in danger. 

The book is a good tutorial on what it was like in Saigon in its last chaotic days as the capital of South Vietnam. Derrick interweaves facts with his fiction. Although this is not an action novel, Nickels does see some and even gets wounded. Most of the action is saved for the big reveal at the end.

It’s worth the wait, like the ending of a M. Night Shyamalan movie.

I recommend Saigon Spring for those interested in a mystery set in the last days of South Vietnam.   

–Kevin Hardy

Marching to a Silent Tune by Gerald R. Gioglio

Gerald Gioglio’s Marching to a Silent Tune: A Journal from We Shall to Hell No (ACTA Publications. $19.95, paperback) is a compelling book. This Vietnam War era memoir is a well-executed scholarly effort worthy of a graduate thesis. It also is a deep dive into the psyche of a newly drafted soldier coming to grips with his Catholic upbringing and its conflicting demands as he goes through Army Basic Training and Infantry AIT with an assignment to Vietnam in the offing.

Gioglio, a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America, began questioning the morality of war based on his upbringing, as well as military life in general. He describes Basic and AIT as dehumanizing and degrading, with drill instructors belittling him and his fellow trainees as they try to turn them into trained Viet Cong killers. 

Throughout the book Gioglio poses a series of italicized questions and observations that read like a psychologist’s footnotes from a counseling session. It’s almost as if he’s falling back on his religious training to define the unwholesome challenges he encounters in the military.

This confused and unhappy soldier finally decides that the solution to his inner turmoil is to become a Conscience Objector and to seek a discharge from the Army on that basis, thus avoiding being deployed to the warzone and forced to take the lives of enemy combatants.  Spoiler alert: Jerry Gioglio eventually gains CO status, is discharged, and joins Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

This is a book suffused with deeply held beliefs and is a worthwhile read—perhaps a necessary read.

–Tom Werzyn

The Stinger by D.E. Ritterbusch

The Stinger (Eclectic Blue Publishing, 151 pp. $15, paperback) is the latest collection of poetry from D.E. Ritterbusch. A U.S. Army Vietnam War veteran, Ritterbusch recently retired as a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Let’s get this part over with: The Stinger is a masterwork. The poems relate the wide world of sports to the wider world of culture, family, politics, and war. A stinger is an especially hard-thrown baseball—and, indeed, baseball is the subject of most of the poems in this collection, some of which have appeared in Deadly Writer’s Patrol, Vietnam War Generation Journal, and War, Literature & the Arts.

“Poetry and sports are play but serious play, serious business as well,” Ritterbush notes in the book’s introductory wssay.

The first poem, “The Stinger,” sets a high mark of quality that’s found throughout the book. It’s a vivid, powerful description of the poet as a young boy and his relationship with his stepfather as played out during an evening game of catch. The second poem, “Running with a Coyote,” is just as powerful and describes what you would expect from its title.

Boxing takes center stage in “Soft Hands,” which includes another definition of “stinger.”

He remembers previous fights, how he fought

with a broken knuckle, how it almost

healed and then another fight broke it again …

his adversary knows he’s nursing his right,

relying on a flurry of sharp left jabs:

the subterfuge flowers like a welt, forces him

to throw a hard, countering right:

his opponent, anticipating, lowers his head

deliberately, directly into the punch

to break that hand again—

the sharp sting ran up his arm

and shorted in his brain, as if all the nerves were fused.

“Running at Midnight” finds Ritterbusch running on “the last cinder track in the city.” After his run, a stranger hungry for conversation, wants to visit.

I wish her well, and jog back

to whatever awaits, slowing perceptibly,

leaving her beneath the circling summer stars,

all of us learning to pace ourselves

as best we can, searching, calling,

running through our nights. Some of the answers

swirl like insects around a street lamp,

some of them flare to ash in the light.

In “44” we read how the longest period of time always seemed to be between Hank Aaron’s plate appearances in a game, and how Hank fired a kid’s imagination:

Always it hung across the plate,

belt high, as my wrists broke,

and the hard crack of the ball

resounding off that bat rose above the world,

beyond the deep left center of everything.

There are poems about life lessons that can be found while fishing with a child, sledding in the snow, and playing hoops with old men past their time. There’s a description of two women playing a game of topless darts, as well as poems about wrestling, hunting grasshoppers, and skinny-dipping.

In “Garage Day,” the young poet is throwing a ball off the side of a garage, in late afternoon:

until crickets sing in the shadows,

until the sky softens like his glove to evening.

I often read entire poems with my mouth agape in wonder. This is a great collection.

–Bill McCloud

Target Saigon 1973-75: Volume 4: The Final Collapse, April-May 1975 by Albert Grandolini

Albert Grandolini’s Target Saigon 1973-75, Volume 4: The Final Collapse, April May 1975 (Helion/Casemate, 80 pp. $29.95, paperback), the fourth and final volume of the Target Saigon series, covers the final days of the Vietnam War as the South Vietnamese Army tried to fight off the North Vietnamese Army (PAVN) on its march to Saigon.

This volume opens with preliminary operations led by PAVN Gen. Tran Van Tra to surround and cut off Saigon. The main fighting up to that point had been in the Central Highlands and the northern portion of South Vietnam. By the beginning of April, that entire area had been taken over by the North Vietnamese military and the main offensive moved on to areas to the north and west (Tay Ninh) and east (Xuan Loc) of Saigon and in the Mekong Delta. The ARVN forces were led by the highly competent Gen. Nguyen Van Toan.  

The opposing generals’ forces engaged in intense fighting. The North Vietnamese paid heavily for each of its successes as the ARVN made strategic withdrawals closer and closer to Saigon. In the Delta, attacking PAVN units were exposed to withering fire by entrenched troops, airstrikes, and naval gunboats.

The battle for Xuan Loc was the fiercest of the 1975 campaign and stopped the North Vietnamese advance in its tracks. Another highly competent ARVN general, Le Minh Dao, who commanded the defense of Xuan Loc, inflicted heavy losses on the enemy before yielding the city.

For eleven days the ARVN, reinforced by Airborne and Ranger units and supported by airstrikes, threw back attacking troops and T-54 tanks from six PAVN divisions augmented with armor brigades. The South Vietnamese Air Force flying from Bien Hoa Air Base dropped 15,000-pound Daisy Cutter bombs on North Vietnamese troops. A-37 and F-5 attack aircraft, flying sortie after sortie, inflicted large losses on advancing armor units.      

Only when the PAVN corps commander shifted artillery within range of the air base was he able to bring munitions and aircraft on the ground under fire. The day Xuan Loc fell it became evident that the end of South Vietnam was in sight. That evening South Vietnamese President Thieu resigned and fled to Taiwan. Within days, a new government formed under former Gen. Duong Van Minh, the leader of the neutralist Third Force.  

Minh imagined that he could form a coalition government with the Viet Cong, but was mistaken as the VC was focused on total victory and not on negotiating. For the final assault on Saigon the PAVN used more than 250,000 troops, 320 tanks, 500 artillery pieces, and 180,000 support troops. In its final effort to stop the advance on Saigon the ARVN, with support of its Air Force, fought tenaciously.  

But it all for nothing. On April 30 the North Vietnamese took Saigon and, despite continued fighting in the Delta, the war was over.

The tragedy is that many of the South Vietnamese troops who fought the hardest to defend their country spent years in reeducation camps where some of the most dedicated officers were executed.  

Reading this book, I could not help but reflect on the 18th ARVN Division. I was briefly sent to Xuan Loc in October 1967 where I heard Americans make disparaging comments about the 18th ARVN. Yet, it was the 18th that put up heroic resistance eight years later, right up to the end. Gen. Le Minh Dao, its commander, enduring eighteen years of imprisonment after the war ended.

Halion, the British military history publisher of the Target Saigon series, always produces a quality product. Besides being very informative, this volume is well supported by many maps, illustrations, and photographs.

–John Cirafici

A Different Military Life by Stephen Frushour

Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Stephen Frushour strings together countless engaging anecdotes in his colorful memoir A Different Military Life: Interesting Short Stories from 12418 Days of Service (226 pp., $8.50, paperback). Frushour guides the reader through virtually every step of a military career that spanned four decades. It begins with with his plebe year at West Point in the fall of 1964, and moves through his service as an artillery officer in the Vietnam War and his transition to becoming an orthopedic surgeon in the Army and then the Air Force.

Anyone even remotely familiar with the four years of training and service at the United States Military Academy likely knows that the first year—the Plebe year—can be the most difficult. Upperclassmen inspect every aspect of the new cadet’s life; demerits are handed out for the slightest infraction. Whether a cadet’s uniform is not impeccably turned out, or a bed is not perfectly made, the opportunities are endless.

But, as with other elements in his life, Frushour finds a quiet humor in it all, offering the reader reasonable questions: Exactly how is it possible to have clean laundry improperly placed in a clean laundry bag? Why is it necessary that a cadet design his own guide to refer to when he is ordered to slice a cake into seven pieces of exactly the same size? The purpose, of course, is to instill in the cadet habits of precision that must soon become instinct—a given for anyone training to become an artillery officer.

In Vietnam, the newly minted lieutenant was assigned as a Forward Observer, Fire Direction Officer, and Air Observer with C Battery of the 1st Battalion/27th Field Artillery Regiment in from February 1969 to February 1970. He Frushour makes plain for the reader two key aspects of a mobile unit he was part of that this reviewer was previously unaware of. First, despite their appearance, tracked vehicles’ resemblance to tanks is misleading. Unlike a tank, the vehicle’s aluminum construction makes it vulnerable to enemy fire, and requires extra vigilance by the crew when going into action.

One harrowing event Frushour recounts occurs when, on returning from a combat assignment, the brakes of one track failed. In order to stay on the road, the driver often had to rotate the vehicle as much as two hundred-seventy degrees. When it finally broke down,  Frushour offers a gripping account of he and his men finding themselves trapped and outnumbered in enemy territory waiting for help that they thought would never arrive.

Like many such accounts, Frushour provides context with each anecdote. Yet, at the same time, he requires the reader to be familiar with military strategy and the political landscape of the war in Vietnam. The work also would benefit from stronger editing, especially with formatting and spelling.

But these are minor missteps when considering the colorful journey Steve Frushour brings to us as he leaves Vietnam for Germany, and then returns to U.S., as well as his transition from soldier to surgeon, and from the Army to the Air Force.

This is account of a life well lived is as enjoyable as it is edifying.

–Mike McLaughlin

Target Saigon 1973-75: Disaster at Da Nang 1975 by Albert Grandolini

Military historian Albert Grandolini’s Target Saigon 1973-75: Disaster at Da Nang (Helion/Casemate, 80 pp., $29.95, paper), the third in a four-volume series, captures the final days of the Vietnam War in the northern provinces.

In March 1975 North Vietnamese forces began a major offensive to take the two biggest cities in northern South Vietnam. Within weeks they overran their objectives and began the final thrust to Saigon. The disaster at Da Nang was tragic for the South Vietnamese and, coming so soon after a rout in the Central Highlands, presaged the end of South Vietnam.  

The tragedy is that the finest generals of South Vietnam’s army, fighting in the northernmost provinces with forces stretched thin and with limited munitions, put up a stout defense as they went up against the equally skilled North Vietnamese generals.  

The Politburo, led by Communist Party General Secretary Le Duan, had devised a cautious plan for the final phases of the war that would not be completed until 1976. Instead, their rapid successes would end the war in April 1975. This short, heavily illustrated book captures what went wrong for the South Vietnamese in the northern provinces.   

With hindsight, the major events leading to the final defeat would start with the decision by South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu to abruptly order the evacuation of ARVN forces from the Central Highlands—a nearly impossible task conducted on poor roads. Remembering the North Vietnamese massacre of thousands in Hue during the 1968 Tet Offensive, countless thousands of South Vietnamese civilians flooded those same roads.  

The book describes the same chaos that followed in the northern provinces as ARVN Gen. Ngo Quang Truong—a highly competent leader—tried to consolidate his forces into defendable enclaves, first at Hue and then Da Nang. Confusing orders from Thieu insisting on the defense of too much territory exasperated Truong and undermined his efforts. Belatedly authorizing the repositioning of forces resulted in a hastily ordered withdrawal compounded by countless thousands of fleeing civilians.  

The upshot: 120,000 ARVN troops were captured or killed while only 16,000 made it out to go south and defend Saigon. What’s more, the South Vietnamese Air Force lost 268 aircraft, which were either captured or destroyed as their air bases in the North were overrun. Within days, Cam Ranh Bay would fall.    

For those of us who had seen combat in the northern provinces of South Vietnam, it is tough to read about the rapid fall of Quang Tri, Dong Ha, Hue, Da Nang, and other places where American forces had fought and died years earlier. You get the feeling that it was all for naught.   

That said, we should respect the South Vietnamese troops who put up a good fight until everything collapsed around them. This book tells their story.

–John Cirafici

Of Helicopters and Heroes by Gary Bowman

Gary Bowman served as a helicopter crew chief and door gunner during his 1971 tour of duty in the Vietnam War. He decided to write a novel, Of Helicopters and Heroes (198 pp. $8.99, paper; $2.99, Kindle), about his experiences rather than a memoir. He used his experiences and those of other helicopter crews in the 101st Airborne to create his plot.

As usual with an autobiographical novel, you have to wonder which parts reflect the actual experiences of the writer and his comrades and which parts are made up. Since Bowman does not enhance the narrative with incidents that are not believable, it appears everything in the book either happened to him or to someone he knew.

The main character is Tim Burroughs, who comes from a dysfunctional family. He enlists because he figures he will be drafted or be “volunteered” by a judge. His limited knowledge of the war gives him the belief that he will be fighting communism.

The book eschews describing Burroughs’ training and plops him into a helicopter several months into his Vietnam War tour. He’s 19, and no longer a cherry. He is a crew chief and a good one.

Burroughs and his unit encompass a typical Huey helicopter and crew over the period of a one-year tour. The missions include inserting and extracting Special Forces teams. Sometimes these missions are in Laos. He experiences a helicopter crash. He stops an ARVN officer from throwing an old man out of the chopper in flight. They carry Donut Dollies to a base. An ARVN accidentally fires an RPG into the deck of the chopper. They rescue an ambushed unit by landing in a very small space.

In one of his last missions, Burroughs leaves the chopper to save a wounded soldier. He should have gotten a medal for that deed, but the action took place in Laos so, officially, it never happened?.

Bowman does not use the book to preach. However, he does offer some insights about the war. Burroughs loses his faith in God (after deaths of another crew), but not in his country. He is critical of the press. They make a big deal of the accidental killing of civilians, he says, but say nothing about good things, like Americans rescuing civilians from a flood.

He points out that the further from the bush, the more the perks (like hot water showers), but the more chicken shit (saluting). Another point he makes is that troops were not given enough time to recover from physical and mental wounds. “It’s a system of musts, not wants.”

Unlike other self-published Vietnam War books, Bowman’s does not have any major spelling or grammar problems. It is an easy read, except for the many abbreviations that he assumes the reader knows.

I enjoyed Of Helicopters and Heroes in which Gary Bowman gives some love to crew chiefs and door gunners. Most Vietnam War books focus on pilots, but the crewmen were an important component of all helicopter operations. 

The book is informative about the experiences of everyone on the chopper and the vignettes are entertaining.   

–Kevin Hardy