A Vietnam veteran takes you into the cockpit and shares true stories of his flying career in this compelling memoir. In this action-packed memoir, Jules Harper recounts the unique process of becoming a naval aviator, revealing his experiences as a brand new pilot in a combat squadron and, finally, a flying warrior. He survived two combat cruises aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk from 1966–1968, compiled 332 career carrier takeoffs and landings, and was shot at daily by enemy fire while completing 200 combat missions over Vietnam, and shares the views of the aviators who flew along with him on these missions while fighting this unpopular war. A recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, twenty-one Air Medals, and many other accolades, he offers readers a new understanding and appreciation of the warriors who protect not only their comrades in arms, but the defense of the nation as well.
As World War II came to a close, piston-powered fighter aircraft were at their zenith, and Navy fighters, such as the Grumman F6F Hellcat and Vought Corsair, dominated the skies over the Pacific. As these fighter designs reached their peak, a new propulsion technology was being developed that held great promise. When introduced, the first jet aircraft were underpowered, and in many ways inferior to propeller-driven aircraft of the time. U.S. Naval Air Superiority examines the Navy's internal struggle to adapt the jet engine to its style of warfare as well as the development and evolution of carrier-borne fighters and their airframes and engines, from the closing days of World War II through Vietnam. For the first time, U.S. Naval Air Superiority profiles the turbulent design and development stage of the Navy's carrier-based jet fighter program. From the successful designs, such as the Fury, Banshee, Crusader, and Phantom II, to the also-rans, like the Fireball, Demon, Pirate, and Cutlass, the Navy's needs are measured against contractor and political demands and the limits of the evolving engine and aerodynamic technologies of the day. This book includes engine cut-aways, aircraft comparison diagrams, and details the safety improvements made to aircraft carriers to enable higher speed and high-gross-weight jet operations.
In early May 1961, a U.S. military aircraft taxied toward a well-guarded terminal building. The plane slowed to a halt; steps were maneuvered up to its side, and the door was pulled open. The tropical night air was heavy and dank, and the moon shone dimly through high thin clouds. On board the aircraft were ninety-two members of a specially selected team. The men were dressed in indistinguishable dark suits with white shirts and dark ties, and each man carried a new red U.S. diplomatic passport inside his breast pocket. The men held copies of their orders and records in identical brown Manila envelopes, and each man’s medical records were stamped “If injured or killed in combat, report as training accident in the Philippines.” In such clandestine fashion, the first fully operational U.S. military unit arrived at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in South Vietnam. The unit was so highly classified even its name was top-secret. It was given a codename, a cover identity to hide the true nature of its mission. The unit’s operation was housed in a heavily-guarded compound near Saigon, and within two days of its arrival, Phase I was implemented. Its operatives were intercepting Viet Cong manual Morse communications, analyzing it for the intelligence it contained and passing the information to the U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group-Vietnam. The Army Security Agency was on duty.
Thoughts on issues of character, leadership, integrity, personal and public virtue, and ethics, the selections in this volume converge around the central theme of how man can rise with dignity to prevail in the face of adversity--lessons just as valid for the challenges of present-day life as they were for the author's Vietnam experience.
The war in the skies above Vietnam still stands as the longest our nation has ever fought. For fourteen years American pilots dropped bombs on the Southeast Asian countryside -- eventually more than eight million tons of them. In doing so, they lost over 8,588 fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. They did not win the war. Ironically, Vietnam, though one of our least popular wars, produced one of the most effective groups of warriors our nation has ever seen -- men of dedication, professionalism, and courage. In Fast Movers, official navy historian John Sherwood offers an authoritative social history of the air war, focused around fourteen of these aviators -- from legends like Robin Olds, Steve Ritchie, and John Nichols to lesser-known but equally heroic fighters like Roger Lerseth and Ted Sienecki. Sherwood draws on nearly 300 interviews to tell stories of great pilots and great planes in the words of the men themselves. Fliers recall jets such as McDonnell Douglas's famous F-4 Phantom, "a Corvette with wings"; the F-05 Thunderchief, the workhorse of the war; the F-8 Crusader, the last of the gun fighters; and the block-nosed but revolutionary A-6 Intruder with its fully computerized attack systems, terrain mapping radar, and digital all-weather navigation system. Ultimately, though, it was the men who mattered. Sherwood shows us the brash confidence of famous iconoclast Robin Olds, who does not hide his thrill of the hunt -- and the kill. Roger Sheets looked like Don Knotts but prepped his "Vulture Flight" of Marine A-6s with the simple, unequivocal line, "Gentlemen, let's go out and kill something." But Sherwood lets us know that it wasn't all glory, that pilots suffered fear just like other soldiers. Ed Rasimus later admitted he thought that an assignment to Thailand was "like getting diagnosed with terminal cancer: everyone is hoping the cure will come before you die." There were things worse than death, too. Fast Movers offers fascinating portraits -- based on Sherwood's interviews and just-declassified naval archives -- of Vietnam's POWs. Pilots lucky enough to suffer only broken bones and burns from the violence of 1960s-era Martin-Baker ejection seats struggled to find honorable ways to negotiate half-decade-long periods in captivity. Passive resistance, like Commander Jeremiah Denton's famous blinking of TORTURE in Morse Code, was sometimes successful, often brutally reprised. Escape was impossible. Those who avoided shootdown learned to live with other frustrations. Most wanted to "go downtown" (bomb Hanoi) but were foiled by their civilian superiors, who dictated the numbers and types of aircraft that could be used in a given strike, the kinds of ordnance that could be levied against a target, and even the flight paths that could be flown. Against all odds, the pilots spawned a culture of success in the midst of failure and frustration. Fast Movers captures a hidden and crucial story of America's least successful war.