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Fast Movers: Jet Pilots and the Vietnam Experience Hardcover – February 23, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (February 23, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684847841
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684847849
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,328,855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A staff historian for the U.S. Navy, Sherwood (Officers in Flight Suits) offers this compelling presentation of America's fighter pilots of the Vietnam era. His study, though based heavily on interviews with and narratives of just 14 pilots, is by no means impressionistic. It is a presentation of personalities and mentalities in a military community that is becoming increasingly a band apart from the rest of the armed forces as well as from civilian society. Sherwood effectively conveys a central part of his subjects' Vietnam experience: frustration at not being allowed to wage all-out war. He describes in detail such fierce but futile campaigns as Rolling Thunder and Commando Hunt, which, Sherwood writes, "[f]or its technological wizardry... had little impact on the Communists' ability to wage war." Stress was a constant companion for the pilots. But few resigned their commissions or turned in their wings. Not everyone met the standards, and Sherwood is blunt in naming names. Nor was there a common pattern of behavior. Some fighter pilots were like Robin Olds, leader of one of the top-ranked F-4 wing, larger-than-life figures, charismatic iconoclasts. Others, like navy commander Roger Sheets, took pride in their professionalism. But all fighter pilots describe their common ground: the shared knowledge that they would do almost anything to help each other in need, manifested in high-risk rescue missions and again in the POW camps. It was the final element that cemented a community of warriors fighting what many saw as a senseless war. (Feb.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

From 1965 through 1973, while U.S. and Vietnamese forces in the South dealt with an elusive enemy on the ground, Marine, Navy, and Air Force pilots were pressing a grim series of attacks meant to force the enemy into peace talks. In this kind of warfare, "going Downtown" meant risking life on every mission against the most concentrated antiaircraft fire ever seen. The stories of several of the outstanding pilots of these campaigns, taken from both their recollections and transcripts of their on-site air-to-air conversations, generate a vivid sense of the sort of action they saw and the work they were asked to do. Sherwood, a historian at the Naval Historical Center, has produced an earnest and solid treatment. He presents the all-volunteer flyers as singularly courageous, dedicated, and capable. His book ranks among the best of this type for its sketches of the personalities in the bombing campaigns against North Vietnam. Recommended for public and academic libraries.
-Mel D. Lane, Sacramento, CA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

These brave flyers deserved this study!
Rand Castile
There are countless more errors of fact in the book, too many to make Sherwood a credible writer.
Kenneth Sanger
As for no wife, no kids, no family - Many of us did not want to leave widows and orphans.
Skylaw

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth Sanger on March 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
HORRIBLE with some bright spots. I shudder to think that this man is a Naval historian. I flew over 400 combat missions (in A-4s and A-7s) from carriers in SEA. I flew with many of the men mentioned in the book.
The author states as fact opinions of some of his subjects. He uses incorrect terminology. He quotes stories with glaringly incorrect information. (pg 160, Harrison's flameout landing: he says Joe Simon was the "maintenance chief" but goes on to quote Simon telling Harrison that he, Simon, is the commanding officer - impossible!
Pg 183 - he quotes Nichols as saying "You're going to learn to be a yo-yo." No fighter pilot would say that - yo-yo is a term in air to air combat describing "using the vertical" - Nichols was obviously saying he would teach them to yo-yo. He says the Navy made the officer's club at Cubi for the pilots and the one at Subic for the married officers. Absolutely untrue. Cubi point WAS the Naval Air Station and Subic was the Naval base, there was no fence between the two but there was no segregation either. Each base had its own officer's club and the Cubi club was definitely less sedate because it was most frequented by pilots , in part because it was closest to where the carriers docked.
There are countless more errors of fact in the book, too many to make Sherwood a credible writer.
And how does a Naval historian write about the air war in SEA without mentioning either the A-4 or A-7 aircraft?
I hope the author is more careful with his facts when acting in his capacity as Naval Historian!
I hope the author is more careful with his facts when acting in his capacity as Naval Historian!
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As a Reagan-era USAF pilot whose only direct knowledge of the Vietnam War is from the stories of the veteran pilots that I had the fortunate opportunity to learn from, I get a bit troubled when I read "military history" that includes author opinions like the following:
"... Roger Locher and Bob Lodge had clearly become so absorbed in the killing process on 10 May that they lost track of reality: their basic survival instincts were eclipsed by blood lust. Lodge, in particular, had no other life to live, no wife, no child, not even a girlfriend or a hobby. Killing was his only passion."
Or this:
"(Steve Ritchie's) training and preparation prevented him from falling into the same emotional trap that killed Lodge."
It would be one thing if the actual participants were directly quoted making these statements. It is entirely another thing to have a so-called historian some 28 years after the fact make these grand judgements about the mental well-being of a man who made a common combat mistake. What I smell is controversy-motivated psycho-history to sell books.
The reason I purchased this book was to read the "facts" about the "stories" I had heard about an USAF pilot who choice death to avoid capture. What I read was a hatchet job on a man who can't even defend his honor because he made the ultimate sacrifice for his country while I and this author were still playing "cops and robbers" at recess in elementary school.
May Robert Lodge rest in peace. He was a combat pilot who made a mistake and paid for it with his life. Those are the historical facts. Any judgments about his mental state, his motivations, or what he was thinking at the time is historical fiction.
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Tom Gill on March 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Sherwood tells the story mostly from the view point of Air Force missions and surprisingly, mostly from navigators. The yarns are mostly good although there are some silly statements. The reader will get almost no idea that Naval Aviation had any real presence in North Vietnam. Where are the stories about the A4 Skyhawk which probably had the most missions of any type of aircraft flown up north? Where are the A7 stories? Most aggravating of all, not a single mention of the Navy's Ace, Randy Cunningham. Where are the stories of the Navy pilots who flew 300 and 400 missions? Every pilot who flew up North has some hilarious stories and some heartbreaking stories. You missed almost all of them, Sherwood. Also, before one puts Official Naval Historian under one's name he really should know something about the US Navy and Naval Aviation. I had over 200 missions over there and would say to the reader, you really will only get half the story in this book. The Air Force half.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth Sanger on March 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
HORRIBLE with some bright spots. I shudder to think that this man is a Naval historian. I flew over 400 combat missions from carriers in SEA. I flew with many of the men mentioned in the book.
The author states as fact opinions of some of his subjects. He uses incorrect terminology. He quotes stories with glaringly incorrect information. (pg 160, Harrison's flameout landing: he says Joe Simon was the "maintenance cheif but goes on to quote Simon telling Harrison that he, Simon, is the commanding officer - impossible!
Pg 183 - he quotes Nichols as saying "You're going to learn to be a yo-yo." No fighter pilot would say that - yo-yo is a term in air to air combat describing "using the vertical" - Nichols was obvioulsly saying he would teach them to yo-yo. He says the Navy made the officer's club at Cubi for the pilots and the one at Subic for the married officers. Absolutely untrue. Cubi point WAS the Naval Air Station and Subic was the Naval base, there was no fence between the two but there was no segregation either. Each base had its own officer's club and the Cubi club was definitely less sedate because it was most frequented by pilots , in part because it was closest to where the carriers docked.
He uses "Iron Hand" to describe an Air Force Wild Weasel mission. ( Iron Hand was strictly a Navy term.) There are countless more errors of fact in the book, too many to make Sherwood a credible writer.
And how does a Naval historian write about the air war in SEA without mentioning either the A-4 or A-7 aircraft?
I hope the author is more careful with his facts when acting in his capacity as Naval Historian!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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