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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Soldier's Story of Survival in Vietnam!
Missions of Fire And Mercy
Until Death Do Us part.
White Robe 6 calling Yellow One.... over.

This incredible true story is a roller coaster ride of courage under fire, valour, humility, personal struggle and faith set against the background of the Vietnam War.
The Author writes frankly about his thoughts, feelings, and actions as a Helicopter...
Published on December 23, 2009 by Sligachan

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Review of Missions of Fire and Mercy
I am in awe of the authors stories of daily missions. Sir you have conveyed with words your experiences so vividly. This should be a must read for Americans , so as to give the real understanding of the warriors plight. Thank you for your service to us all and your story is truly inspiring. I pray you find peace and contentment God Bless you and all the heroes
Published on October 31, 2012 by daniel avery smith

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Soldier's Story of Survival in Vietnam!, December 23, 2009
Missions of Fire And Mercy
Until Death Do Us part.
White Robe 6 calling Yellow One.... over.

This incredible true story is a roller coaster ride of courage under fire, valour, humility, personal struggle and faith set against the background of the Vietnam War.
The Author writes frankly about his thoughts, feelings, and actions as a Helicopter Gunship Crew Chief responsible for the safety of his Crew and that 'Band of Brothers', he transports to the fire of War.Or when returning to pull them out of the valley of death while enduring the maelstrom of live fire.
Delivering death to the enemy, and mercy when it is needed, he paints a vivid picture of the humanity of soldiers when faced with the specter of death.

The Author does not pull any punches when describing the carnage of war, and hand-to-hand combat, or wounded men screaming in pain, or those who lie silently in the sleep of death.

The window the Author opens enables one to see, smell and feel the 'Event Horizon', where life and death meet in an eternal struggle. He has tasted the exultation of living for one more day, and swallowed the bitterness of loss as his buddies fail to return or die before him. Death is his constant companion yet hysterical laughter erupts as a Viet Cong grenade turns out to be a very frightened rabbit that has jumped into their foxhole.
One can feel the relief and hysteria in the Bunker; and laugh along!

But yet in all the horrors of war he retains his faith and reliance on White Robe 6,the Call Sign for the God who holds the fate of every man and woman in the palm of his hand.
Finding time to encourage his family and girl friend in his letters home, he documents one man's experience of an unpopular war, and has written it down for posterity.

This record of one young man's experience of combat in the jungles of Viet Nam stands alongside with the exploits of Wingate-Orde and the Chindits of Burma.

The trauma of Vets is now recognized and the Author encourages those who suffer the trauma of unrelenting nightmares and flashbacks to seek out professional help.

This is an excellent book for anyone who wants to understand the war that tore a country apart and the steps one has to complete to reconcile with the enemy and the feelings of aloneness that one must overcome to be whole again.

The Author has certainly achieved his goal of educating the families of `wounded warriors' about the wounds that cannot be seen but are felt deeply, and in doing so educates another generation about the personal cost of fighting honorably for one's country.

A great and sobering read!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for those ready to fully understand what the soldiers and families of the Vietnam era went through!, February 8, 2010
I purchased this book because the author was from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as was I. People born and raised in the UP have a unique trait of telling it straight and without any sugar-coating. I don't personally know the author, but after having read the book, I feel like I do. I like the style in which the book is laid out. I have passed this book on to a Vietnam veteran who I work with and when I get it back, it is going to be passed on to my 23 year old son, a History major who loves to read the personal stories of war. I have read several books on Vietnam and I include this one in my list of "good books" read in my lifetime. Thank you Bill Peterson for sharing your story.

J. Schwanz
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blown out of the sky, March 13, 2013
This book has 52 reviews so I am going to write a review in a different manner because I already know what a crew chief, door gunner and pilots went through. I was a senior NCO Ranger in a reconnaissance unit, A Troop, 9th Cavalry (which is also the title of my first book). While I had no bad thoughts about Peterson's book I also had no problems laying it down and coming back in a day or two. I think that is because I have been there, on choppers as a Recon Platoon Sgt. I was also there as the first team leader of the LRRPs of the 1st Cavalry Division's LRRPs, my second book (Above All Else).
In saying all that is it necessary to run off to the local book store, falling down and scraping your knees to buy this book? No, not unless you are or were a chopper crew chief or door gunner. On the bright side, while you are in town you might amble over to the book store and pick up a copy. It is worth the read. So, my review will be what a crew chief in my unit wrote to me. I know Jim Talley very well. He is a good man. Here we go.
"It was early March '66 and I (Jim Talley) had been the crew chief for a couple of weeks at the most. We had redeployed to An Khe from our Bong Son operation in February and we were flying reconnaissance missions around the base camp. On this particular day we were flying northeast of An Khe with another gunship. I was as green as Spring Grass and had not been under fire yet. But we were flying in a free fire zone where anything could happen at any moment. We spotted signs of the enemy almost immediately. It wasn't long before we began to receive automatic weapons fire and after marking the spot with smoke, we rolled in for a gun run. We both shot the place up with rockets and machine gun fire. As we rolled in for a second gun run, firing rockets and our machine guns, there was something like an explosion on the left side of the inside of the chopper, right behind where I had been manning my machine gun. I was knocked back several feet and then I saw that the entire left side of the chopper seemed to be on fire. Before I had started this job, I had come to terms with the fact that this was an extremely dangerous job with a real possibility of my getting killed. I wasn't afraid of dying if it was to come, but I didn't want to burn to death or be captured. Those were my two greatest fears. Well, here I was, in a helicopter shot down in flames and expecting to be dead at any moment. I have heard of folks being near death and how their life flashes before their eyes. Well, that happened to me at that moment. Every bad thing I had ever done flashed before my eyes in an instant. I was terrified and momentarily paralyzed with fear. I saw the pilot fighting for control of the aircraft and heard the other gunship radioing May Day, May Day. I saw my door gunner, Tom Smith, looking steady as a rock and that helped me regain control. My pilot, Mr. Saunders, finally got control just before we crashed into a tree, which just happened to be the only tree in that dry rice paddy. We just kind of fluttered to the ground. Hitting that tree cushioned our crash landing and I am convinced it saved our lives. After hitting the ground, Tom and I helped our pilot and co-pilot out of the aircraft. Then we grabbed our door guns and dived behind the paddy dike to get away from the burning ship. We were still being fired at and the paddy dike was the only cover. The other gun ship made gun runs on the tree line to keep the enemy in place. There I was, in a rice paddy, having survived a fiery shoot down, and having thoughts that my other worst fear could very well happen soon. But then the Cavalry came to our rescue. The sky was black with helicopters. The troopers on those choppers, upon landing, assaulted the enemy position. I was safe."
Jim's second clash with his fears came in June 1966. Jim related: "We were operating out of the Tea Plantation west of Pleiku. There was always something happening along the Cambodian border. A Special Forces camp came under very heavy attack by the NVA. We were sent there to support the Special Forces. The NVA were ready for us. They sent heavy automatic weapons fire and air-bursts that looked like ack-ack skyward. We also had to fly through friendly artillery barrages to conduct our gun runs on the enemy. I think we all expected to be blown out of the air any moment but we kept at our gun runs until we had to leave to re-arm and refuel and then we returned to the AO. We were shooting enemy out of the trees. For the first time I saw a human wave assault everywhere. We got a radio call from the Infantry CO. He had a lot of wounded who needed to be medevaced and could we help. I recall my pilot saying, good luck, hang on, here we go. On the ground Tony Hatmaker and I helped load the wounded guys. There was all kind of fire coming into the LZ. With an additional five wounded guys on our chopper, it was going to be a struggle getting airborne. We made another trip to the LZ under this heavy fire and friendly artillery barrage, to get more wounded troopers. The gratitude of the wounded and their buddies, made it all worthwhile. At the end of it all, all of us were surprised that we survived the day. I truly thought it was going to be the end of me."
And that is what pilots, crew chiefs and door gunners do. It is a brave thing to say, here we go and then the pilot takes the chopper into hell trying to help soldiers on the ground. For that I say to Peterson, job well done.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Heroes Journey Memoir!, April 16, 2012
During my three tours in Vietnam I took many a chopper ride out to the AO as a grunt and always was glad I didn't have your job. To this day I would much rather be on the ground facing the enemy than hanging in the air taking hits as you drop off or pick up our guys. I have the utmost admiration for all you guys and the heroic jobs you performed. Without you many of us would be just fertilizer in Southeast Asia. Thank you ...

As a writer, I like the approach you took with Missions Of Fire & Mercy. The letters home and filling in the detail blanks is a great approach. It allows the reader to be with you on the flights as well as experience your relationship with those you flew with and your changing relationships at home. Once I picked the up I read it in one sitting. You get five stars from me.


Lynne M. Black Jr.
5th Special Forces
One Zero
RT Alabama
RT Idaho
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down!, January 9, 2010
This book has lots of letters from the author to his parents and friends back in 'the world'. It is a very graphic and inside look into what it was like being a Crew Chief on a 'Slick' in Vietnam. Once I started it I couldn't put it down! Since my Dad was a US Army helicopter pilot that flew a tour in Vietnam it was very interesting. Dad never spoke much of his time in Vietnam so I'm very grateful to men like Mr. Peterson that took the time to write of their experiences. Highly reccomended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story of reality, faith, family, friendship and healing from Vietnam, July 28, 2012
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This review is from: Missions of Fire And Mercy ~ Until Death Do Us Part (Kindle Edition)
I've never been good at "titles" -- but Bill's book was an personal experience of healing I'll always remember with gratitude.

Bill was a door gunner and crew chief with a "slick" helicopter crew in Vietnam. "Slicks" flew troops in and out of combat placement (insertion and removal), brought supplies and ammunition to troops who would die without them, and removed the wounded and the bodies of those whose fight was over. In so doing, his life and that of his crew was often in danger, and he probably still has pieces of shrapnel surfacing in his body.

His story is graphic - but then, whoever said war is not the epitome of "graphic"? Through his book, I was able to experience the heat, bugs, dysentery, firefights, sights and smells of death, loneliness, and fear when his airborne aircraft was the target of enemy bullets en route to Missions of Fire and Mercy. As a person of faith, I was also able to experience his reliance on "White Robe 6", his unit's designation for God.

My brother was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, flying both "slicks" and gunships in two tours of duty. He returned functional, finished college, and managed to work for the Department of the Army as a civilian for 15 years until PTSD and progressively disabling alcoholism took over his life, and he mercifully died 15 years after that, having lived 30 years of terror and nightmares about events in Vietnam.

After reading this book I was finally able to release my feelings of helplessness and guilt I had carried for almost 50 years because I was unable to help my brother. He found his peace in death. I found my peace in reading this book. Thank you so very much, Bill.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for people to understand what those who served on Helicopters when through, November 2, 2011
As author of Empty Tubes And Back Seat Memories: A life changing experience Empty Tubes and Back Seat Memories: A Life Changing Experience , I looked at reading, Missions of Fire and Mercy: Until Death Do Us Part by William E. Peterson with a different outlook than many who read this type of book. For me, I was sure that our paths had passed while in Vietnam because my unit supported his unit on MANY missions and at least part of our tour was during the same years.

When I first opened Missions of Fire and Mercy, there was a yellow paper with the haunting words, `White Robe 6 calling Yellow One . . . over.' I did not read it until I finished reading the book. For some reason this was eating at me, but why? Then, I read the chapter about White Robe 6 and the light when on. I read this in Vietnam. For those who were there, you will know this as well. For those who were not there, I will let you be the judge of how powerful a meaning this has.

I felt Bill did a great job. Even though the book is a little graphic, which being a Vietnam veteran, made me want to put it down. (Some books I have tried to read, I could not finish. Some I could not read years ago, (This book is one of them) I now have made a second attempt at reading. However, with Missions of Fire and Mercy, I found myself riveted to the story. At times, I was sitting in the door of my own Huey with my adrenaline pumping. I served as a crew chief and door gunner on a Huey with the 1st Cav and am sure I was on at least one or two missions that Bill writes about.

Bill's story follows the same path from small town American to becoming a crew chief in Vietnam in much the same way as many others with a Huey mechanics MOS. Our job was 24/7, cleaning and maintaining the aircraft assigned to you. Flying heart pounding missions day and night, ready to protect our aircraft and crewmembers with our M-60 when needed.

Every mission defined by mutual trust, a trust between the crew chief and his pilots and gunner, if we had a gunner. In my case, we were usually a three-man crew. However, life aircraft carried a four man crew. Without this trust, everyone on board could come home early in a way that no one wanted, or not come home at all. Many of us owe our lives to their courage and dedication under very difficult conditions.

This story interweaves the author's own narratives and recollections with his own letters home while in Vietnam. Fortunately, his father saved these letters, which provide a chronicle of intense combat during his tour with C/227th. These letters provide the reader an intimate view of what Peterson was thinking at the time including, the fears, sorrows, and doubts he and his fellow aircrew members experienced as they prepared for and flew their missions.

Peterson notes that it has taken him 40 years to get around to telling his stories and states " is finally "OK" to let it all out." He encourages other Vietnam vets to do the same as "a good way to get it out of your system." He says, "My survivor guilt, nightmares, and flashbacks have helped me to write more vividly." This he has certainly done.

Bill's book is a haunting and moving. Through letters home, he tells of his life as a helicopter gunner/crew chief during the Viet Nam war. I highly recommend the book to anyone who is interested in understanding the stress that often accompanies the life of a soldier. It also explains why Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is so common among so many.

His book left me with a "NEW FOUND" deeper respect for the crewmembers of the lift aircraft that my unit supported daily. Because of my own PTSD, I closed this part of my life off and only started to open up these chapters in the past in the late 1980's. After the VA labeled with chronic PTSD, I learned that writing gave me relief. Writing has become only part of my healing process, but it is a very important part for others like Bill and myself.

God Bless you Bill, it has meant a lot to read your story. It has helped me in ways that only people like you can understand.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a Grunt didn't know about those chopper crews..., November 14, 2012
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As a combat infantry veteran (aka "Grunt") of the Vietnam War (1st Cavalry Airmobile 1968-69) I have always had a deep respect and appreciation for the chopper crews, and have voiced and written this many times. I knew they were almost always in harm's way but did not fully realize the risks they were constantly taking to support us, nor the losses of life and limb they incurred. Being a "Grunt" on the ground leads you to the false belief that "we saw the worst," but I no longer feel that way. Certainly we saw our share of action, but by no means all of it.

"Missions of Fire and Mercy" is written by a man who as a nineteen year old soldier in 1967 literally couldn't wait to see action, and subsequently as a helicopter crew chief learned the horrors, sadness and futility of war first hand. The book is written in a simple, humble style, with letters to family forming the basis for most of the memoir. It is factual - not embellished as so many stories are. As I read his descriptions they "took me back" to things I was familiar with, and introduced me to things I never knew before. As stated above, these crews were under fire regularly, likely more than the ground troops. Their work days were exceptionally long, with sixteen to eighteen hour days nothing unusual. After a full day of flying, it was not uncommon to be scheduled for night flight duty. As we in the 1st Cavalry made missions into Cambodia prior to full authorization, others such as Mr. Peterson flew highly dangerous missions into Laos. These are facts you don't read about in history books.

Chopper crews were the lifeline for the troops on the ground, performing combat assault insertions, extractions, Medevacs, aerial surveillance, critical supply delivery and more. This memoir tells me so much I didn't realize, even after forty three years. If not for these guys, many of we veterans would never have made it home, and that is an absolute fact. Mr. Peterson, I thank you and the crews for your dedication, sacrifice and exemplary service with the 1st Air Cavalry, and also for this memoir. And yes, there is in fact a (very) special relationship between us.

I highly recommend this book to veterans, non-veterans, students and anyone interested in the Vietnam War. You will not be disappointed.

David B. Simmons - Author
Our Turn to Serve - An Army Veteran's Memoir of the Vietnam War (Xlibris 8.15.2011)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Feedback regarding this book, July 15, 2010
John Podlaski (Sterlinig Heights, MI USA) - See all my reviews
I finished your book last night. It was a wonderful story and I learned a few things by reading it...did not know the gooks had helicopters that they ferried soldiers around. I can relate also to your story about meeting the Vietnamese waitress in DC and what the results were. I used to work for Roush Racing, which is very much into NASCAR, and was introduced to the female, Vietnamese Quality Manager. We hit it off and she took me to Vietnamese restaurants during lunch and introduced me to the various dishes. She, too, was born in Saigon and had no recollection of the war...she was only 34. She recognized some of the places I'd been to and also informed me that there is no such word as "Dinky Dau" in the Vietnamese language. I spent the next six months with this woman - she had a fiery personality and employees often referred to her as the Dragon Lady.

Your job there was pure hell compared to what us infantry type had to do. I was overwhelmed when reading about what you had to accomplish on a daily basis. Of course in my case when in firefight, I could hide behind a tree or large rock - you guys just flew right into the hornets nest with very little protection (chicken plate only) - that took nerves of steel!!!

As I told you when we first emailed each other that us grunts always held the chopper crews in the highest regard and with the utmost respect. Now after reading your book and visualizing what you did first hand, I think if we were ever privy to some of those things you shared in the book, then the grunts would surely have referred to all of you as "White Robe Six". I was also amazed by how much we had in common - when you read my novel you'll be able to say the same.

Thank you again for being there for us and for taking those unnecessary risks to save our asses on the ground. I am certain that if not for you guys, the names on the black granite wall in DC would have twice as many names. I am very proud to have met you Bill and wish you well. Welcome home brother!

John Podlaski
Author: Cherries - a Vietnam War Novel
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reflections of Who We Were..., May 14, 2010
Joyce Faulkner (Pittsburgh, PA USA) - See all my reviews
There's not much difference between "Missions of Fire and Mercy" and other combat memoirs. Bill Peterson decides to drop out of college and join the Army in 1967. He must explain his decision to worried parents. His father is a World War II veteran and understands Bill's need to find himself as a warrior. His girlfriend of four years may or may not understand - but he feels her support and knows that she will wait for him. So, eager to do the right thing, Bill signs up for helicopters, goes through training, makes close friends, and volunteers for Vietnam. The Army accepts Bill's offer and off he goes on the first real adventure of his adult life.

I've read the same story a thousand times--in fact, I can't stop reading these books. These were the friends of my youth and each time one left, I watched him go with a combination of anger, fear, and frustration. Why was it that as the daughter of a combat veteran, I began grieving the day they left for basic training?

However, there's something about this rendition that's especially heart rending. Maybe it's Bill Peterson's considerable talent as a writer. Perhaps it's because I can remember exactly what I was doing on the days that he was risking his life to insert and extract other grim young soldiers in and out of hell. The throbbing beat of the Rolling Stones blend with the whop of helicopter rotors in the ears of my generation like a rock and roll anthem of confusion, pain, bravery, anxiety, and good intentions. Bill's year in Vietnam played out against societal chaos where right and wrong no longer seemed so pristinely white and black--only Bill saw it all up close and personal while I heard about it from boys with the eyes of old men.

As the tale unfolds in "Missions of Fire and Mercy," Bill allows the reader to watch as his innocent eagerness melts away like a Hershey bar in the back pocket of my jeans. Perhaps because he is upfront about his fear and horror, we understand why he is compelled to fly day after day. Bill and the other helicopter crews flew long after it was no longer fun. They flew not because they were ordered to. They flew not even because they were brave - although they were most assuredly that. They flew because their friends and comrades relied on them. The wounded needed them. Those under fire needed them. No, they flew because they knew they must--and other young men are alive today because they did.

And after it was all over, some came home and others didn't. Families and friends grieved for those that were lost. However, for most, life went on. Some things changed and others didn't. The worst that could have happened never did, and bad things we never dreamed of came to pass. No one knows if it was right or wrong, worth it or not - but we do know that these young men were magnificent like their fathers before them. It's impossible to read Bill's book and not know this.

Joyce Faulkner
Author of "In the Shadow of Suribach"
Co-Author of "Sunchon Tunnel Massacre Survivors"
President of The Military Writers Society of America
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