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A Three-War Warrior
on May 28, 2014
Robbie Risner was a warrior fighting his third war--a professional fighter pilot devoted to his country and his craft. His book may have been the first published by a returning Vietnam POW. Whatever the publication date, it appeared within months of his release from the Hanoi hell hole, and therefore carries an immediacy that is undeniable. I rate it four stars because in the rush to publication some errors and omissions occurred that could have been avoided with a bit more time. For instance, Risner wrote that he was shot down the first time in early April 1965 when actually it was March 22, attacking a radar site. And curiously, he omits any mention of his leadership of the important first mission against the notorious Thanh Hoa Bridge on April 3. Also, some names are misspelled.
However, the errors are minor when compared to the overall effect of Risner's ordeal. Try to imagine living in torturous isolation for more than seven years--not knowing when or if you might be released. The POWs' mantra was Unity Above Self, and the huge majority lived up to that creed, inspired by the courageous example of senior airmen like Robbie Risner.