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A Must Read!,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Rescue of Bat 21 (Hardcover)
Most veterans are aware of the rescue of BAT-21 (Bravo), Lt. Col. Iceal "Gene" Hambleton, that was shot-down by an enemy missile during the April '72, NVA Easter Offensive. In the initial stages of this powerful enemy thrust into I Corp, U.S. intelligence failed to brief U.S. personnel who were flying in the area that the enemy had crossed the DMZ and had brought with them SAM missiles and an incredible amount of AAA fire support to provide protection to the massive NVA armored invasion. Brave men were caught off guard by these formidable air defenses south of the DMZ, and they paid dearly. The earlier movie, "BAT-21," touched on some of the truth about this rescue mission. But much of what was shown was purposely fictitious due to national security issues. Since that time much of the information surrounding this rescue mission has been declassified allowing the facts to be known to all for the very first time. Author, Darrel Whitcomb, has done an incredible job of collecting files, first-hand interviews, grid maps and photos to describe the events leading to the downing and rescue of BAT-21, and has written about the ultimate sacrifice of those who perished or were captured in attempts to rescue Hambleton. For example, just minutes after BAT-21 landed just south of the DMZ, Blueghost 39 and his crewmembers of F Troop, 8th Cavalry were killed or captured when encountering extremely heavy enemy fire when they entered the recovery area which unknowingly was in NVA hands. Days later the entire crew of Jolly Green 67 would perish when hit by massive enemy AAA fire as the NVA sprang a trap. Whitcomb fluidly reports of repeated and aborted attempts to extract BAT-21 and of the cost to the Nails, the Sandys, the Jolly Greens, the USAF, the VNAF, and ultimately the few MACSOG-80 personnel still in-country. All were involved during the course of not only rescuing BAT-21, but other downed airmen in the immediate area during what has to be one of the most intense--if not THE most intense--battles involving combined U.S. forces during the Vietnam War. "The Rescue of BAT-21" is much more than its title indicates. Whitcomb's book is also a well-researched historical look at the Easter Offensive and how the war very suddenly and dramatically changed in the closing days of U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia. In "The Rescue of BAT-21" Mr. Whitcomb has done a service to the veterans who participated and perished on this rescue mission. He has told their story, one which needed to be told. It is a fitting tribute to the countless brave and dedicated men who flew the air support and rescue missions throughout the war--often times at great personal risk and sacrifice. From Vietnam to the rescue mission in Somalia, Darryl Whitcomb has captured the moment in his incredible work, and warns of the "dangers of drawn-out coalition warfare without defined objectives." Darrel Whitcomb, who is a highly decorated veteran who served three tours himself in Southeast Asia as a cargo and Nail FAC pilot, has captured the spirit of America's fighting men...the 'how' and 'why' many willingly risked their lives to save even one fellow America in danger of being captured or killed by enemy forces. This is a true story of "duty, honor & country." In his poignant postscript the author details the return of Blueghost 39 in 1994 and more recently in 1997, the return of Jolly Green 67 and crewmembers who perished during this 15-day SAR mission. All of them were buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. They are now, finally, "home" We offer our sincere and personal thanks to Nail 25 for writing this important work and setting the record straight. His take of the prevailing attitudes of the aircrews in the chapter entitled 'A Long, Bitter, and Frustrating War' were precisely on the mark. And his 'Disconnect' chapter was especially insightful, describing the evolution of the American experience in the war brilliantly. We sincerely thank the author for newfound understanding and pride. We hope many will take the opportunity to read it. For many fellow veterans this work will be a very special addition to their collection. Mike Austin -- Blueghost 23 Roger Young -- Silver Spur Scout C.E.