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Big BUF: Tales of the B-52 Bombers, The SAC Pilots Who Flew Them & the Wives They Left Behind in the Era of the Vietnam War Paperback – May 17, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Charles W. Holmes applied for Aviation Cadet flight training in the United States Air Force in 1953. He was awarded his wings and commissioned a second lieutenant in 1955. After flying the C-47 “Goonie Bird” in Korea and two years in troop carrier operations, he was drafted into the SAC and the B-52 program in 1959, where he stayed for the rest of his career. He had over 7,500 flying hours with over 5,000 hours in the B-52, transitioning from copilot to first pilot to instructor pilot. He had 4 combat tours during the Vietnam War, 3 of which were 6 months each flying as combat crewmember from Guam, Okinawa, and Utapao Royal Thai Air Base. At Utapao, he completed 236 combat missions, receiving 11 Air Medals, the Bronze Star, and Distinguished Flying Cross. Returning to civilian life, he qualified for a teaching certificate in mathematics at Florida State University. He was awarded an M.S in 1975, and a Ph.D. in education finance in 1976. He did Government contract work with the BDM Corporation in Washington, D.C. before joining Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, teaching economics as a the senior scientist, then later director, of the Aviation Research Center. He was appointed to Bainbridge College, of the University System of Georgia. He taught economics and statistics for twenty years. Chuck is now retired as Professor of Economics Emeritus. Merelyn Holmes had the toughest job in the Air Force—that of an Air Force wife. Merelyn was responsible for welfare and support of wives coping with family separation. There was the recovering alcoholic who would no longer be able to cope and wanted to turn to drink. Merelyn told her to call when this happened. The telephone would sometimes ring in the early evening and they would talk until sunup when the friend would say that she is now all right. She was always available to assist other wives who might have demonstrated embarrassing behavior at the officers club. She remained active in her social responsibilities. She continued teaching Sunday school and other work in chapel programs. She was leader of The Protestant Women of the Chapel and received a Letter of Commendation for her chapel work from the Air Force Chief of Chaplains. She still managed to have time to raise a child of our own while acting as mother and replacing an absent father. Chuck and His wife Merelyn have been married 55 years and live in a waterfront condo in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: BeachHouse Books (May 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596300736
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596300736
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.6 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,573,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
5 star
77%
4 star
15%
3 star
8%
2 star
0%
1 star
0%
See all 13 customer reviews
Everybody should read this book because it tells it like it was.
Nolegirl
We had all heard it was a challenging job to fly for SAC and I always admired pilots who stuck it out.
Tom Raven
This book claims to be fiction, but one senses real people and events behind every episode.
Mark Landon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert Stewart on August 23, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This novel begins as a very interesting tale about a B-52 pilot and his crews. Then it ends like it just ran out of gas. Former crewmembers will enjoy reading it. A considerable emphasis on sexual matters detracts from recommending this book to many. Hardly any details are penned about crewmembers other than the pilot and gunner. Stating that crewmembers other than pilots were those who failed to qualify as pilots did not set well with me, as I knew hundreds of navigators and electronic warfare officers who never aspired to be pilots. Many served in other capacities as they answered the call from threatening draft notices and wished to escape the Infantry assignment. A climatic ending and less emphasis on getting laid would certainly help make this novel a better read. Seems the sex part is added to spice the tale thus enhancing the possibilities of a future movie? Hollywood has to have sex and violence for such. Still, all in all, I did enjoy this book and recommend it those who flew the Buf.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mark Landon on July 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
Big Buf surprises in two important ways. First, it is written with humor, something you might not expect in a book full of technical information about the B-52 bomber and tactical strategy from the Southeast Asian campaigns of the 1960s and `70s. More importantly, it also gives insight into the rewards and costs of military service at a time when an increasingly smaller percentage of Americans take on such commitments.
This book claims to be fiction, but one senses real people and events behind every episode. The biographical sketches of the husband and wife authors confirm its verisimilitude. We get to know and care about the central characters, fictional but fully human. As the story continues through different deployments, our involvement with their lives and our concern for them deepen.
This is a book about active duty in the military but about family life as well. And the wives and children who wait for their loved ones to return from overseas--and some do not--are central players in the story. Their stoic, humorous, determined efforts to pursue the course earns our respect.
It's true that bureaucracy creates comedy in Big Buf, with elaborately staged inspections, ladder-climbing careerists, and mind-numbing procedural review. You do not want to miss learning about the provocatively sexy Russian spy who seems capable of servicing entire aircraft crews or the officer's wife who establishes a posh brothel to further her husband's career. Laughter at such developments seems necessary in the face the demoralizing evaporation of national support for what the men must do and the families must support.
Despite the betrayal of some politicians and the self-serving of officers seeking promotion, there are no outbursts of anger in this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard J. Epler on June 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
I've always thought that historical fiction provides the best of both worlds. On the one hand is the history and on the other is a compelling story that provides the context. The glue is the fictional characters whose personas are based on real people who lived through the events described. Some of the great works of wartime historical fiction were written by James Michener (South Pacific and The Bridges at Toko-Ri) and Herman Wouk (The Caine Mutiny and Winds of War and War and Remembrance). Both authors are Pulitzer Prize winners.

Historical fiction, however, should not be confused with fictional history, which seeks to provide an alternate history of selected events. The Holmes book belongs to the former genre; much of what has been taught in our public schools about the Vietnam `conflict' belongs to the latter. But this book doesn't get into that; there are no real political discussions as we think of such today ... but that's not to say there aren't numerous military political situations, the central one being how to bring our involvement in the Vietnam `war' to an end.

Ultimately, Richard Nixon decides to use Big BUF (the B-52) as it was originally intended (strategic bombing), to do just that. It took 11 days of bombing Hanoi and Haipthong, at the end of 1972, to convince the North they couldn't win militarily against the United States. The NVA (North Vietnamese Army) and the NLF (National Liberation Front, aka the Viet Cong) were beaten.

At that point, we had a decision to make: we could either schedule a victory parade through Hanoi after the necessary mop-up operations ... or we could withdraw to allow the NVA and NLF to regroup to defeat the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam).

The decision was never in doubt.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By RUSS on November 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
IM JUST ABOUT FINISHED WITH THIS BOOK. ITS FOR REAL AS I HAD THREE TOURS IN SOUTH EAST ASIA FOR A TOTAL OF NINE YEARS THEIR. GUAM, U-TAPAO AND KADENA OKINAWA. I HAVE GASSED UP MANEY B-52S, KCI35S, SR-71 KC-135Q MODELS, C-141S, C133S BETER KNOWN AS WEENIE WAGONS LOOKED LIKE A C-130 STREACHED OUT, MOST ALWAYS CAME INTO GUAM WITH A FETHERED ENGINE. RUSS
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tom Raven on June 29, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I served as a Pilot for 26 years with the USAF. I was always with TAC or MAC and never with SAC but I was always interested in what that involved. We had all heard it was a challenging job to fly for SAC and I always admired pilots who stuck it out. This novel captures all of the stories that I had heard about SAC. I thought the novel was very well written. Obviously the author knew what he was writing about and he very skillfully told the story. His handling of dialogue was excellent and the storyline moved along at a pace that kept you turning pages wanting more. Very interesting storyline and very well written. Definitely a five star choice. Tom Roe, Author of The Gaelic Letters
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