151 combat missions
21 hard kills on surface -to -air missile sites
4 Distinguished Flying Crosses with Valor
1 Purple Heart
First into a war zone, flying behind enemy lines to purposely draw fire, the wild weasels are elite fighter squadrons with the most dangerous job in the Air Force
One of the greatest aviation memoirs ever written, Viper Pilot is an Air Force legend's thrilling eyewitness account of modern air warfare. For twenty years, Lieutenant Colonel Dan Hampton was a leading member of the Wild Weasels, logging 608 combat hours in the world's most iconic fighter jet: the F-16 "Fighting Falcon," or "Viper." He spearheaded the 2003 invasion of Iraq, leading the first flight of fighters over the border en route to strike Baghdad. Earlier, on 9/11, Hampton's father was inside the Pentagon when it was attacked; with his dad's fate unknown, Hampton was scrambled into American skies and given the unprecedented orders to shoot down any unidentified aircraft. Viper Pilot is an unforgettable look into the closed world of fighter pilots and modern air combat.
"Like Lauren Hillebrand's Unbroken…Target Tokyo brings to life an indelible era." —Ben Cosgrove, The Daily Beast
In December 1941, as American forces tallied the dead at Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt gathered with his senior military counselors to plan an ambitious counterstrike against the heart of the Japanese Empire: Tokyo. Four months later, on April 18, 1942, sixteen U.S. Army bombers under the command of daredevil pilot Jimmy Doolittle lifted off from the deck of the USS Hornet on a one-way mission to pummel the enemy’s factories, refineries, and dockyards and then escape to Free China. For Roosevelt, the raid was a propaganda victory, a potent salve to heal a wounded nation. In Japan, outraged over the deaths of innocent civilians—including children—military leaders launched an ill-fated attempt to seize Midway that would turn the tide of the war. But it was the Chinese who suffered the worst, victims of a retaliatory campaign by the Japanese Army that claimed an estimated 250,000 lives and saw families drowned in wells, entire towns burned, and communities devastated by bacteriological warfare.
At the center of this incredible story is Doolittle, the son of an Alaskan gold prospector, a former boxer, and brilliant engineer who earned his doctorate from MIT. Other fascinating characters populate this gripping narrative, including Chiang Kai-shek, Lieutenant General Joseph “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell, and the feisty Vice Admiral William “Bull” Halsey Jr. Here, too, are indelible portraits of the young pilots, navigators, and bombardiers, many of them little more than teenagers, who raised their hands to volunteer for a mission from which few expected to return. Most of the bombers ran out of fuel and crashed. Captured raiders suffered torture and starvation in Japan’s notorious POW camps. Others faced a harrowing escape across China—via boat, rickshaw, and foot—with the Japanese Army in pursuit.
Based on scores of never-before-published records drawn from archives across four continents as well as new interviews with survivors, Target Tokyo is World War II history of the highest order: a harrowing adventure story that also serves as a pivotal reexamination of one of America’s most daring military operations.
Mr. Hartley was still wet behind the ears when he was tossed into the cauldron of America’s most unpopular war as an attack helicopter gunship pilot. As he shares a gripping, birds-eye view of battles that took him from the Demilitarized Zone in the north to the Mekong Delta in the south, Mr. Hartley compellingly details how he learned to rely on his superior training and equipment to follow through with his mission to kill the enemy and save the lives of his fellow soldiers below.
Gunship Pilot provides an unforgettable glimpse into two combat tours of duty in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot soaring high above rice paddies and jungles attempts to fulfill his duty of protecting America’s warriors on the ground.
Tom A. Johnson flew the UH-1 "Iroquois" -- better known as the "Huey" -- in the 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion of the First Air Cavalry Division. From June 1967 through June 1968, he accumulated an astonishing 1,600 flying hours (1,150 combat and 450 noncombat). His battalion was one of the most highly decorated units in the Vietnam War and, as part of the famous First Air Cavalry Division, helped redefine modern warfare. With tremendous flying skill, Johnson survived rescue missions and key battles that included those for Hue and Khe Sanh and operations in the A Shau and Song Re valleys, while many of his comrades did not. His heartfelt and riveting memoir will strike a chord with any soldier who ever flew in the ubiquitous Huey and any reader with an interest in how the Vietnam War was really fought.
As America's Mercury Seven astronauts were launched on death-defying missions, television cameras focused on the brave smiles of their young wives. Overnight, these women were transformed from military spouses into American royalty. They had tea with Jackie Kennedy, appeared on the cover of Life magazine, and quickly grew into fashion icons.
Annie Glenn, with her picture-perfect marriage, was the envy of the other wives; JFK made it clear that platinum-blonde Rene Carpenter was his favorite; and licensed pilot Trudy Cooper arrived with a secret that needed to stay hidden from NASA. Together with the other wives they formed the Astronaut Wives Club, providing one another with support and friendship, coffee and cocktails.
As their celebrity rose-and as divorce and tragedy began to touch their lives-the wives continued to rally together, forming bonds that would withstand the test of time, and they have stayed friends for over half a century. THE ASTRONAUT WIVES CLUB tells the story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history.
Lords of the Sky is the “dramatic, fast-paced, and definitive" (Michael Korda) history of the fighter pilot, masterfully written by "one of the most decorated pilots in Air Force history” (New York Post). A twenty-year USAF veteran who flew more than 150 combat missions and received four Distinguished Flying Crosses, Dan Hampton draws on his singular firsthand knowledge, as well as groundbreaking research in aviation archives and rare personal interviews with little-known heroes, including veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Hampton (the New York Times bestselling author of Viper Pilot) reveals the stories behind history's most iconic aircraft and the aviators who piloted them: from the Sopwith Camel and Fokker Triplane to the Mitsubishi Zero, Supermarine Spitfire, German Bf 109, P-51 Mustang, Grumman Hellcat, F-4 Phantom, F-105 Thunderchief, F-16 Falcon, F/A-18 Super Hornet, and beyond. In a seamless, sweeping narrative, Lords of the Sky is an extraordinary account of the most famous fighter planes and the brave and daring heroes who made them legend.
At the turn of the twentieth century two new technologies—the car and airplane—took the nation's imagination by storm as they burst, like comets, into American life. The brave souls that leaped into these dangerous contraptions and pushed them to unexplored extremes became new American heroes: the race car driver and the flying ace.
No individual did more to create and intensify these raw new roles than the tall, gangly Eddie Rickenbacker, who defied death over and over with such courage and pluck that a generation of Americans came to know his face better than the president's. The son of poor, German-speaking Swiss immigrants in Columbus, Ohio, Rickenbacker overcame the specter of his father's violent death, a debilitating handicap, and, later, accusations of being a German spy, to become the American military ace of aces in World War I and a Medal of Honor recipient. He and his high-spirited, all-too-short-lived pilot comrades, created a new kind of aviation warfare, as they pushed their machines to the edge of destruction—and often over it—without parachutes, radios, or radar.
Enduring Courage is the electrifying story of the beginning of America's love affair with speed—and how one man above all the rest showed a nation the way forward. No simple daredevil, he was an innovator on the racetrack, a skilled aerial dualist and squadron commander, and founder of Eastern Air Lines. Decades after his heroics against the Red Baron's Flying Circus, he again showed a war-weary nation what it took to survive against nearly insurmountable odds when he and seven others endured a harrowing three-week ordeal adrift without food or water in the Pacific during World War II.
For the first time, Enduring Courage peels back the layers of hero to reveal the man himself. With impeccable research and a gripping narrative, John F. Ross tells the unforgettable story of a man who pushed the limits of speed, endurance and courage and emerged as an American legend.
The creation of the first weapon in history whose operators can stalk and kill an enemy on the other side of the globe was far more than clever engineering. As Richard Whittle shows in Predator, it was one of the most profound developments in the history of military and aerospace technology.
Once considered fragile toys, drones were long thought to be of limited utility. The Predator itself was resisted at nearly every turn by the military establishment, but a few iconoclasts refused to see this new technology smothered at birth. The remarkable cast of characters responsible for developing the Predator includes a former Israeli inventor who turned his Los Angeles garage into a drone laboratory, two billionaire brothers marketing a futuristic weapon to help combat Communism, a pair of fighter pilots willing to buck their white-scarf fraternity, a cunning Pentagon operator nicknamed "Snake," and a secretive Air Force organization known as Big Safari. When an Air Force team unleashed the first lethal drone strikes in 2001 for the CIA, the military's view of drones changed nearly overnight.
Based on five years of research and hundreds of interviews, Predator reveals the dramatic inside story of the creation of a revolutionary weapon that forever changed the way we wage war and opened the door to a new age in aviation.
When Chuck Gross left for Vietnam in 1970, he was a nineteen-year-old Army helicopter pilot fresh out of flight school. He spent his entire Vietnam tour with the 71st Assault Helicopter Company flying UH-1 Huey helicopters. Soon after the war he wrote down his adventures, while his memory was still fresh with the events. Rattler One-Seven (his call sign) is written as Gross experienced it, using these notes along with letters written home to accurately preserve the mindset he had while in Vietnam.
During his tour Gross flew Special Operations for the MACV-SOG, inserting secret teams into Laos. He notes that Americans were left behind alive in Laos, when official policy at home stated that U.S. forces were never there.
He also participated in Lam Son 719, a misbegotten attempt by the ARVN to assault and cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail with U.S. Army helicopter support. It was the largest airmobile campaign of the war and marked the first time that the helicopter was used in mid-intensity combat, with disastrous results. Pilots in their early twenties, with young gunners and a Huey full of ARVN soldiers, took on experienced North Vietnamese antiaircraft artillery gunners, with no meaningful intelligence briefings or a rational plan on how to cut the Trail. More than one hundred helicopters were lost and more than six hundred aircraft sustained combat damage. Gross himself was shot down and left in the field during one assault. Rattler One-Seven will appeal to those interested in the Vietnam War and to all armed forces, especially aviators, who have served for their country.
A singular, lyrical book, Sagittarius Rising is at once an exuberant memoir from the Lost Generation and a riveting tale of the early days of flight during World War I. Cecil Lewis lied his way into the British Army’s Royal Flying Corps at age sixteen and was ordered to a squadron on the Western Front only a year later. At the time, flying was so new that designers hadn’t even decided on basic mechanics such as how many wings a plane should have. Despite this, Lewis mastered virtually every kind of single-engine plane in the RFC, going on to excel in active duty and even to dogfight the Red Baron—and live to tell the tale. Full of infectious charm and written with the prose and pacing of a novel, Sagittarius Rising beautifully recounts Lewis’s harrowing exploits in the sky alongside his wild times of partying and chasing girls while on leave in London. His coming-of-age story is unlike any other WWI memoir you’ve read before.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
The Japanese defeats at Midway and Guadalcanal decided the outcome of the Pacific War. Guadalcanal was the classic three-dimensional campaign. On land, at sea, and in the air, fierce battles were fought with both sides stretching their supplies and equipment to the breaking point. The campaign lasted six months, involved nearly one million men, and stopped Japanese expansion in the Pacific.
When the campaign began on August 7, 1942, no one on either side quite knew how to conduct it, as Eric Hammel shows in this masterly account. Guadalcanal: Starvation hand corrects numerous errors and omissions in the official records that have been perpetuated in all the books previously published about the campaign. Hammel also draws on the recollections of more than 100 participants on both sides, especially the enlisted men at the sharp end. Their words bring us into the heart of the battle and portray the fighting accurately, realistically, andvery powerfully.Guadalcanal: Starvation Island follows the men and the commanders of this decisive World War II campaign in an integrated, brilliantly told narrative of the desperate struggle at sea, on land, and in the air.
Praise for Guadalcanal: Starvation Island and Eric Hammel
“A comprehensive history of the Guadalcanal Campaign . . . [and] a well‑balanced account. Well written and fast moving.” —Marine Corps Gazette
“Hammel has written the most comprehensive popular account to date . . . and exposes controversial aspects often passed over,” —Publishers Weekly
“Hammel takes the reader behind the scenes and details how decisions were made . . . and how they impacted on the troops carrying them out. He tells the story in a very human way.” —Leatherneck Magazine
“A splendid record of this decisive campaign. Hammel offers a wealth of fresh material drawn from archival records and the recollections of 100‑odd surviving participants. . . . A praiseworthy contribution to Guadalcanal lore.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Hammel’s ability to reveal both the immediacy and the humanity of war without judgment or bias makes all his books both readable and scholarly. —San Francisco Chronicle“Hammel does not write dry history. His battle sequences are masterfully portrayed. —Library Journal
DECISION AT SEA
The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal
Guadalcanal: Decision at Sea is a full-blown examination in vivid detail of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, November 13–15, 1942, a crucial step toward America’s victory over the Japanese during World War II.
The three‑day air and naval action incorporated America’s most decisive surface battle of the war and the only naval battle of this century in which American battleships directly confronted and mortally wounded an enemy battleship. This American victory decided the future course of the naval war in the Pacific, indeed of the entire Pacific War. Eric Hammel has brilliantly blended the detailed historical records with personal accounts of many of the officers and enlisted men involved, creating an engrossing narrative of the strategy and struggle as seen by both sides. He has also included major new insights into crucial details of the battles, including a riveting account of the American forces’ failure to effectively use their radar advantage.
Originally published in 1988 as the concluding volume in Eric Hammel’s series of three independent books focusing on the Guadalcanal campaign and exploring all the elements that made it a turning point of the war in the Pacific, Guadalcanal: Decision at Sea lives up to the high standards and expectations that have marked this author’s many historical books and articles.
Praise for Guadalcanal: Decision at Sea and Eric Hammel
“Hammel’s description of surface tactics, naval gunnery, and what happens when the order to abandon ship is given is vivid and memorable.” —Publishers Weekly
“[Hammel’s] detailed and fast-paced chronicle includes a number of incidents and anecdotes not found in the more prosaic official histories.” —Sea Power
A World War II pilot himself, the memoirist and critic Samuel Hynes revives the adventurous young men who inspired his own generation to take to the sky. The volunteer fliers were often privileged-the sorts of college athletes and Ivy League students who might appear in an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, and sometimes did. Others were country boys from the farms and ranches of the West. Hynes follows them from the flying clubs of Harvard, Princeton, and Yale and the grass airfields of Texas and Canada to training grounds in Europe and on to the front, where they learned how to fight a war in the air. And to the bars and clubs of Paris and London, where they unwound and discovered another kind of excitement, another challenge. He shows how East Coast aristocrats like Teddy Roosevelt's son Quentin and Arizona roughnecks like Frank Luke the Balloon Buster all dreamed of chivalric single combat in the sky, and how they came to know both the beauty of flight and the constant presence of death.
By drawing on letters sent home, diaries kept, and memoirs published in the years that followed, Hynes brings to life the emotions, anxieties, and triumphs of the young pilots. They gasp in wonder at the world seen from a plane, struggle to keep their hands from freezing in open air cockpits, party with actresses and aristocrats, rest at Voltaire's castle, and search for their friends' bodies on the battlefield. Their romantic war becomes more than that-a harsh but often thrilling reality. Weaving together their testimonies, The Unsubstantial Air is a moving portrait of a generation coming of age under new and extreme circumstances.
The Black Aces. Their courage, ferocity, and instincts made them legendary in military aviation. Flying F-14 Tomcats, they played as much a part in recent US operations in Kosovo as did any air squadron in the theater, air force or navy, and probably more. Because of its superior performance, sophisticated equipment and the two-man crews who took it upon themselves to do something extra, the Tomcat and its aviators distinguished themselves over and over.
Forced to locate Serb fighters operating covertly in a mountainous land much like Afghanistan, with almost no help from ground spotters, VF-41 pilots and backseaters spearheaded new methods for the navy to pinpoint, identify, and destroy enemy troops and weapons. These were tasks that fighter crews had seldom had to do before. The Aces had to break rules and frequently go in harms way in order to be successful. And they performed so well that for the first time in aviation history, a fighter squadron - theirs - was awarded The Wade McClusky Trophy, the navy's premier bombing honor. The award, named for a World War II dive bomber pilot and post-WorldWar II admiral, had been won previously only by bombing squadrons.
Robert Wilcox spent two weeks with The Black Aces aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Roosevelt and here provides a long-awaited, never-before-seen glimpse into the world of a modern navy fighter squadron. Wilcox takes readers into the cockpits as the pilots go out and attack targets while avoiding anti-aircraft weaponry. He takes us into the war room as they plan their strikes and into their cabins as they contemplate the danger they are facing. And the reader can't help but worry for these men as they head off into battle, can't help sitting on the edge of the seat as they try to land at night, in a rainstorm, with waves crashing against the ship, and can't help ducking with them as they dodge missile attacks. And in the end, it is impossible not to feel for these aviators as they question their own courage, or to cheer for them when they finally return safely.
Black Aces High is a story of fear and courage, mishap and success, fighting spirit and military innovation. It's a human story that goes behind the smiling, sunglass-wearing facade of aviators flashing a "V", the sterile, slow motion target video that has become a staple of Pentagon briefings, and the rock 'n' roll cowboy image of fighter crews seen in the movies. Instead, it is a story that shows who these aviators really are and what they do beyond what we know, a story which probably will be repeated again and again as our carriers continue to be deployed in the new, 21 century war our nation is fighting.
ACES AT WAR
The American Aces Speak
Adding to the first three volumes of his acclaimed series, The American Aces Speak, leading combat historian Eric Hammel comes through with yet another engrossing collection of thirty-eight first-person accounts by American fighter aces serving in World War II, the Israeli War of Independence, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War
As are the three earlier volumes, Aces At War is a highly charged excursion into life and death in the air, told by men who excelled at piston-engine and jet-engine aerial combat and lived to tell about it. It is an emotional rendering of what brave airmen felt and how they fought in the now-dim days of America’s living national history.
Ride with Flying Tigers ace Charlie Bond as he is shot down in flames over the Chinese city he alone has been able to defend against Japanese bombers. Share the loneliness of command as Lieutenant Commander Tom Blackburn decides the fate of the fellow Navy pilot whose F4U Corsair malfunctions in a desperate battle over Rabaul. Feel 2d Lieutenant Deacon Priest’s overwhelming sense of duty to a friend as he lands his P-51 Mustang behind German lines to rescue his downed squadron commander. Share Lieutenant Colonel Ed Heller’s desperation as he fights his way out of his uncontrollable F-86 Sabre jet over the wrong side of the Yalu River. And join Major Jim Kasler as he leads what might be the most important air strike of the Vietnam War.
These are America’s eagles, and the stories they tell are their own, in their very own words.
By the time Kittinger was shot down in Vietnam in 1972, his Air Force career was already legendary. He had made a name for himself at Holloman Air Force Base near Alamogordo, New Mexico, as a test pilot who helped demonstrate that egress survival for pilots at high altitudes was possible in emergency situations. Ironically, Kittinger and his pre-astronaut colleagues would help propel Americans into space using the world's oldest flying machine--the balloon. Kittinger's work on Project Excelsior--which involved daring high-altitude bailout tests--earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross long before he earned a collection of medals in Vietnam. Despite the many accolades, Kittinger's proudest moment remains his free fall from 102,800 feet during which he achieved a speed of 614 miles per hour.
In this long-awaited autobiography, Kittinger joins author Craig Ryan to document an astonishing career.
Selected by Popular Mechanics as a Top Book of 2010
An unforgettable and thrilling tale of two WWII American bomber pilots who forged an unexpected friendship in the flak-filled skies over Nazi Germany.
The air battle over Nazi Germany in WWII was hell above earth. It lasted three years and cost 125,000 Allied aircrew men, including 26,000 Americans from the US Army's Eighth Air Force in England, their lives. For bomber crews, every day they flew was like D-Day, exacting tremendous amounts of emotional uncertainty and trauma. Some men, like twenty-year-old U.S. Captain Werner Goering, accepted this, even thrived on and welcomed the adrenaline rush. They knew that death could come in a variety of ways: an unlucky flak burst, Luftwaffe fighters that could appear anywhere at any time, or pilot error while flying less than twenty feet apart. Werner Goering was an exceptional pilot. He was also the nephew of Herman Goering, leading member of the Nazi party and Commander in Chief of the Luftwaffe.
When Werner qualified to become a bomber commander in 1942, J. Edgar Hoover issued a top secret order to ensure that if his plane was downed for any reason over Nazi-occupied Europe, someone would be there in the cockpit to shoot Captain Werner Goering dead. The FBI and the American military would not prevent Werner from serving his American homeland in war, but neither would they risk the propaganda coup that his desertion, or even his live capture, would represent for Nazi Germany. So in early 1943, FBI agents fanned out across the United States to find a man capable of and willing to shoot Werner dead in the cockpit, and one who could then get the plane back home. They found Jack Rencher, a tough, insular, B-17 instructor in Yuma, Arizona, who also happened to be one of the Army's best pistol shots. That Jack and Werner became unlikely friends is just one more twist in Hell Above Earth, one of the most incredible untold tales to come out of WWII.
Finish Forty and Home, by Phil Scearce, is the true story of the men and missions of the 11th Bombardment Group as it fought alone and unheralded in the South Central Pacific, while America had its eyes on the war in Europe. The book opens with Sgt. Herman Scearce, the author's father, lying about his age to join the Army Air Corps at 16. The narrative follows Scearce through training and into combat with his new crewmates, including pilot Lt. Joe Deasy, whose last-minute transfer from training duty thrusts the new crew into the squadron commander's role.
After bombing Nauru, the squadron moves on to bomb Wake Island, Tarawa, and finally Iwo Jima. These missions bring American forces closer and closer to the Japanese home islands and precede the critical American invasions of Tarawa and Iwo Jima. The 42nd Squadron's losses through 1943 were staggering: 50 out of 110 airmen killed.
Phil Scearce explores the context of the war and sets the stage for these daring missions, revealing the motivations of the men who flew them: to finish forty combat missions and make it home again. He based his story upon substantial research at the Air Force Historical Research Agency and the National Archives, interviews with surviving airmen, and interviews and correspondence with the survivors of men who were lost. His is the first book to document America's bomber offensive in the early days of the Pacific War.
Through fascinating interviews with veterans and historical photographs, Black Knights is the story of the men and women who served in the training program at Tuskegee Army Air Field from 1941 to 1946. The pilots' stories are here, but so are the experiences of the mechanics, band members, armorers, staff officers, nurses, and more that proved that they had courage and perseverance, not only in war, but in peacetime as well.
Assassination by drone is a subject of deep and enduring fascination. Yet few understand how and why this has become our principal way of waging war. Kill Chain uncovers the real and extraordinary story; its origins in long-buried secret programs, the breakthroughs that made UAV operations possible, the ways in which the technology works and, despite official claims, does not work. Taking the reader inside the well-guarded world of national security, the book reveals the powerful interests - military, CIA and corporate - that have led the drive to kill individuals by remote control. Most importantly of all, the book describes what has really happened when the theories underpinning the strategy -- and the multi-billion dollar contracts they spawn -- have been put to the test. Drawing on sources deep in the military and intelligence establishments, Andrew Cockburn's Kill Chain unveils the true effects, as demonstrated by bloody experience, of assassination warfare, a revelation that readers will find surprising as well as shocking.
151 combat missions
21 hard kills on surface-to-air-missile sites
4 Distinguished Flying Crosses with Valor
1 Purple Heart
Sure to rank as one of the greatest aviation memoirs ever written, Viper Pilot is an Air Force legend's thrilling eyewitness account of modern air warfare.
From 1986 to 2006, Lt. Col. Dan Hampton was a leading member of the Wild Weasels, the elite Air Force fighter squadrons whose mission is recognized as the most dangerous job in modern air combat. Weasels are the first planes sent into a war zone, flying deep behind enemy lines purposely seeking to draw fire from surface-to-air missiles and artillery. They must skillfully evade being shot down—and then return to destroy the threats, thereby making the skies safe for everyone else to follow. Today these vital missions are more hazardous than direct air-to-air engagement with enemy aircraft. Hampton's record number of strikes on high-value targets make him the most lethal F-16 Wild Weasel pilot in American history. This is his remarkable story.
Taught to fly at an early age by his father, Hampton logged twenty years and 608 combat hours in the world's most iconic fighter jet: the F-16 "Fighting Falcon," or "Viper" as its pilots call it. Hampton spearheaded the 2003 invasion of Iraq, leading the first flight of fighters over the border en route to strike Baghdad. In the war that followed, he engaged in a series of brilliantly executed missions that earned him three Distinguished Flying Crosses with Valor; he notably saved a U.S. Marine unit from certain death by taking out the surrounding enemy forces near Nasiriyah. Two years earlier, on 9/11, Hampton's father was inside the Pentagon when it was attacked; with his dad's fate unknown, Hampton was scrambled into American skies and given the unprecedented orders to shoot down any unidentified aircraft. Hampton also flew critical missions in the first Gulf War, served on the Air Combat Command staff during the Kosovo War, and was injured in the 1996 Khobar Towers terrorist attack.
With manned missions rapidly giving way to remote-controlled UAV drones, Viper Pilot may be the last memoir by a true hero of the skies. Gripping and irreverently humorous, it is an unforgettable look into the closed world of fighter pilots and modern air combat.
Please note that due to the large file size of these special features this enhanced e-book may take longer to download then a standard e-book.
As Jay Stout reveals, the air war had actually been in the planning stages ever since the victory of Operation Desert Storm, twelve years earlier. But when Operation Iraqi Freedom officially commenced on March 20, 2003, the Marine Corps entered the fight with an aviation arm at its smallest since before World War II. Still, with the motto “Speed Equals Success,” the separate air and ground units acted as a team to get the job done.
Drawing on exclusive interviews with the men and women who flew the harrowing missions, Hammer from Above reveals how pilots and their machines were tested to the limits of endurance, venturing well beyond what they were trained and designed to do. Stout takes us into the cockpits, revealing what it was like to fly these intense combat operations for up to eighteen hours at a time and to face incredible volumes of fire that literally shredded aircraft in midair during battles like that over An Nasiriyah .
With its dynamic descriptions of perilous flights and bombing runs, Hammer from Above is a worthy tribute to the men and women who flew and maintained the aircraft that so inspired their brothers in arms and terrified the enemy.
From the Hardcover edition.
The Story of Tom Blackburn and Navy Fighting Squadron VF-17
Tom Blackburn with Eric Hammel
Introduction by Vice Admiral James Stockdale, USN (Ret.)
The Jolly Rogers is the true story of one of the U.S. Navy’s foremost World War II fighter squadrons, VF-17, and its charismatic commander, fighter ace Tom Blackburn. In his action-packed war memoir and unit history, Blackburn describes VF-17’s intense, winning campaign against the Japanese over the northern Solomon Islands and Rabaul in late 1943 and early 1944.
Beginning with his own experiences as a trainer of fighter pilots early in World War II and his leadership of a small carrier-based fighter squadron supporting the invasion of North Africa, Blackburn goes on to provide a rich, detailed account of how he shaped a crew of over-eager hotshots into one of the highest scoring fighter squadrons of World War II. In only seventy-six days of combat, Tom Blackburn’s Jolly Rogers knocked down a record 154 enemy warplanes, and Blackburn himself emerged as one of VF-17’s leading aces with eleven kills to his credit.
Boisterous at times, and sober at others, Blackburn explains the methods he used and example he set to shape and wield VF-17 before and during its South Pacific combat tour. Not least of the challenges facing Blackburn and VF-17 was taming the hot new Vought F4U Corsair fighter. Originally slated to serve aboard a fleet aircraft carrier, VF-17 was ultimately transferred to land-based duty when the Corsair proved too hot to handle during carrier-deck landings. Though the Corsair’s teething problems were worked out by others—it eventually became a superb carrier-based fighter-bomber—it was Blackburn and his Jolly Rogers who proved the full potential of the Corsair as a killer of enemy airplanes.
Both a war memoir and a caring tribute to the aggressive, hold-nothing-back young men he trained and led in combat, Blackburn’s story is an epic in World War II history annals.
Critical Acclaim for The Jolly Rogers
Publishers Weekly says: “Blackburn was an exceptionally talented, resourceful, inspiring leader who imparted to his men a fierce warrior ethic . . . especially noteworthy is the author’s straightforward description of the methods he used organizing, training, leading his pilots in combat and developing air tactics.”
The Shipmate says: “Tom Blackburn [was] exceptional, and so is his book.”
The Hook says: “Tom Blackburn [was] one of the most successful fighter squadron commanders the U.S. Navy ever produced . . . not only a cracking good story, but a valuable primer on dealing with the rugged individualists who populate naval aviation, Highly recommended.”
The San Diego Union says: “[This] thrilling saga focuses on unsung heroes.”
Stars and Stripes says: “In a book generously laced with tales of air combat, Blackburn talks of the days spent building VF-17 into an outfit with its own identity and then leading his men into combat . . . ”
The Naval Institute Proceedings says: “Excellent . . . a well-rounded, coherent story that focuses on intense combat . . . As a professional’s account of his squadron’s . . . war, Blackburn’s has no peer.”Kirkus Reviews says: “A macho, like-it-was memoir . . . a gritty, action-packed slice of WWII life.”
After Poland fell to the Nazis, thousands of Polish pilots, soldiers, and sailors escaped to England. Devoted to liberating their homeland, some would form the RAF’s 303 squadron, known as the Kosciuszko Squadron, after the elite unit in which many had flown back home. Their thrilling exploits and fearless flying made them celebrities in Britain, where they were “adopted” by socialites and seduced by countless women, even as they yearned for news from home. During the Battle of Britain, they downed more German aircraft than any other squadron, but in a stunning twist at the war’s end, the Allies rewarded their valor by abandoning Poland to Joseph Stalin. This moving, fascinating book uncovers a crucial forgotten chapter in World War II–and Polish–history.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
But, as Dik Alan Daso convincingly argues, James H. Doolittle should be remembered as much more than a famous combat pilot. With a doctorate in aeronautics from MIT, he devoted his life to mastering the technical and practical intricacies of the airplane. In 1922, Doolittle became the first person to complete a transcontinental flight across the United States in a single twenty-four-hour period. He also won numerous trophies for his record-breaking high-speed flights, and he developed new instrumentation to assist pilots when flying "blind" in poor weather. After holding several major combat commands during World War II, he was appointed a special assistant to the Air Force chief of staff in 1951.
From the early days of aviation to the space age, Daso not only provides a concise overview of the rapidly developing field of aviation but also chronicles a pioneer's tireless efforts to be a visionary for the new era.
The B-29 bomber was made to soar in thin, cold air, dropping its massive bomb load from heights so great that the crews might never see their targets through the clouds below. That was just fine with Ben Robertson, pilot in command of one of the big four engine bombers hammering Japan to its knees in a nonstop bombing campaign in the Pacific. When General LeMay ordered the B-29s to switch tactics from daylight, high-altitude bombing runs to nighttime, low-level runs, Ben's attitude changed. What was once seen as simply dangerous--bombing Japan--now seemed a whole lot more like suicide.
THE ROAD TO BIG WEEK
The Struggle for Daylight Air Supremacy Over Western Europe, July 1942 – February 1944
The Road to Big Week begins with a thorough examination of American development of a strategic bombing doctrine from its earliest conception in the years after World War I. Balancing the demands of the ground army’s desire and need for air support and the visionary outlook of such early Air Corps leaders as General Billy Mitchell with the cash-strapped circumstances of the Great Depression and the limitations imposed by the Congressional peace lobbies, the Air Corps was able to deliver a fully formed doctrine that could not at first be supported by adequate aircraft nor even a public acknowledgenent that the drive to perfect strategic bombing was even on. Before the doctrine or a fully functional heavy strategic bomber were quite perfected, the United States was drawn into World War II. Facing numerous obstacles unperceived during peacetime, not the least being simple bad weather, the early American efforts to mount a strategic bombing campaign in northern Europe nearly failed in the face of unsustainable casualties and ineffective strategic direction. Only the belated modernization of escort-fighter policy saved the strategic bombing force from failure and, indeed, formed the foundation upon which the strategic bombing campaign ultimately reached maturity and achieved success.
In this exciting and complete accounting of the transition from idea to near failure to ultimate success, distinguished military historian Eric Hammel sets out all the dots, then connects them in a conversational style approachable by all readers.What the Experts Are Saying About THE ROAD TO BIG WEEK . . .
Eric Hammel convincingly demonstrates that the road to "Big Week" in February 1944 occupied more than twenty years. With a passion for objectivity and an eye for telling detail, he describes the U.S. Army Air Forces' evolution of the self-defending bomber as well as Nazi Germany's efforts to preserve and patch "the roof" over the Third Reich. Though the European war lasted another fifteen months, Hammel shows that by the end of Big Week there was no reversing the traffic on that sanguinary path. ——Barrett Tillman, author of Clash of the Carriers
Eric Hammel has done it again, with a lucid portrayal of the growth of American bomber theory from the 1918 Armistice to the crucial days over Germany when the Eighth Air Force broke the Luftwaffe’s back. Some books have told what happened during Big Week—Hammel tells you why, driving home points that are as vital today as they were in 1944. ——Col. Walter J. Boyne, National Aviation Hall of Fame Honoree
In The Road to Big Week, Eric Hammel cleverly connects a widely disparate collection of dots that are the development of America as the world's preeminent air power. These connections describe how the U.S. Army Air Forces—just barely in time—evolved in size and capability such that America's airmen prevailed in the iconic air battle that ultimately ensured the defeat of Nazi Germany. Hammel's meticulous research and eminently readable style make this definitive work a compelling read. ——Lt.Col. Jay A. Stout, author of Fortress Ploesti
Eric Hammel has a special gift for combining musty war records and intimate personal accounts into a gripping history . . . If you think there's nothing new to learn about World War II, if you think there was never a possibility the Allies might lose, if you think one side was smarter than the other, The Road to Big Week will unnerve you and change forever your perception of what happened in those high, embattled skies. ——Robert F. Dorr, co-author of Hell Hawks!
CORAL AND BLOOD
The U.S. Marine Corps’ Pacific Campaign
In only a lifetime, the long United States Marine Corps campaign across the Pacific Island has become the stuff of enduring legend. We are down to just a few Pacific Warriors who lived it and can still tell us about it from their own experiences. Now, in Coral and Blood, the critically acclaimed military historian Eric Hammel, who has specialized in writing about Marines in the Pacific, has compiled a brief but comprehensive history of the Marines’ island war. This book was conceived as a starting point for readers who have not yet read much about the Pacific War, but it is also designed to provide a simple yet complete overview for seasoned Pacific War enthusiasts who have not yet examined the island campaigns as an integrated whole. Perhaps by finding out about battles not yet examined, an experienced Pacific War enthusiast will find inspiration for moving on to new battles and looking for even broader understanding.
Following the general outline of his highly rated single-volume pictorial, Pacific Warriors, Hammel begins with the development of the U.S. Marine Corps’ unique amphibious doctrine, then moves briskly into the Pacific War by enumerating the Marine Corps presence on the eve of war. Thereafter, every significant action involving U.S. Marines during World War II—from Pearl Harbor and Wake Island to Okinawa—is examined, including the role of Marine Air in the Philippines. In many cases, longer and broader discussions are presented in this volume than in Pacific Warriors.
Experienced military history reader or not, you will almost certainly find something new and interesting in Coral and Blood. At the very least, you will find Coral and Blood, which weighs in at a respectable 96,000 words, to be valuable but not overbearing as a one-volume overview of the legendary efforts of Marines in the Pacific War.
From a North American standpoint, Zero Fighter makes a number of highly interesting points, having been written for the Japanese market. For example, North Americans are generally not aware of the success of the Zero fighter or of its significance in Japanese minds. Both the superiority of the aircraft in the early stages of the Pacific War and the great stature of Jiro Horikoshi as an aircraft designer (he is to Japan what the designer of the Spitfire is to the U.K.) will come as a revelation to most readers here.
Also completely unknown to most North American readers is the story of the transport section at the Nagoya Aircraft Works. This information is woven nicely into the book, and has a great deal to say about the startling quality of Japanese wartime industry: rigid in many ways, while producing a plane of brilliant originality. The book is a moving picture of the patience of the Japanese in the face of adversity, but perhaps most important, Zero Fighter>/i> is Japanese. It is not often that a Japanese book is encountered here that divulges intimate knowledge about such a fascinating subject. There is significant value in this as we enter an era in which the Japanese and American people must share and respect the other's cultural point of view.
Vietnam, 1965: On July 24 a USAF F-4 Phantom jet was suddenly blown from the sky by a mysterious and lethal weapon—a Soviet SA-2 surface-to-air missile (SAM), launched by Russian "advisors" to North Vietnam. Three days later, six F-105 Thunderchiefs were brought down trying to avenge the Phantom. More tragic losses followed, establishing the enemy's SAMs as the deadliest anti-aircraft threat in history and dramatically turning the tables of Cold War air superiority in favor of Soviet technology.
Stunned and desperately searching for answers, the Pentagon ordered a top secret program called Wild Weasel I to counter the SAM problem—fast. So it came to be that a small group of maverick fighter pilots and Electronic Warfare Officers volunteered to fly behind enemy lines and into the teeth of the threat. To most it seemed a suicide mission—but they beat the door down to join. Those who survived the 50 percent casualty rate would revolutionize warfare forever.
"You gotta be sh*#@ing me!" This immortal phrase was uttered by Captain Jack Donovan when the Wild Weasel concept was first explained to him. "You want me to fly in the back of a little tiny fighter aircraft with a crazy fighter pilot who thinks he's invincible, home in on a SAM site in North Vietnam, and shoot it before it shoots me?"
Based on unprecedented firsthand interviews with Wild Weasel veterans and previously unseen personal papers and declassified documents from both sides of the conflict, as well as Dan Hampton's own experience as a highly decorated F-16 Wild Weasel pilot, The Hunter Killers is a gripping, cockpit-level chronicle of the first-generation Weasels, the remarkable band of aviators who faced head-on the advanced Soviet missile technology that was decimating fellow American pilots over the skies of Vietnam.
The men of SEALs, PBRs, and SF called them saviors . . .
Created in 1967, the HAL-3 helicopter squadron--aka Seawolves--provided quick-reaction close air support to SEALs, PBR River Rats, and Special Forces advisers and their troops. During the five years of the unit's existence, the seven detachments of Seawolves amassed stunning statistics: 78,000 missions, 8,200 enemy kills, 8,700 sampans sunk, and 9,500 structures destroyed. These 200 men collected a total of 17,339 medals.
This is the story of one of those men. . . .
Taking enemy fire while braced against the rocket pod of a Huey gunship and shooting an M-60 freehand in 110 mph winds was just part of Dan Kelly's job in Vietnam. As a gunner in the all-volunteer Seawolves, he served with distinction until three bullets bought him a trip home. Here is his amazing story of the Seawolves--a harrowing tale of unsung heroism and undaunted courage in combat.
From the Paperback edition.
The narrative is, in a real sense, a sustained controversy over strategy, organization, and command in the war against Japan. The B-29 long-range bombing campaign against the Japanese home islands dictated unprecedented organization and command; hence, Arnold established the Twentieth Air Force, commanded by himself from Washington and reporting directly to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This new type of bombing offensive–distinct in command, organization, range, and weapons from the European experience–also called for exemplary operational combat leadership in the field. Here Arnold excelled in his command of the AAF, relieving a long-time colleague (Hansell) in favor of a hard-nosed operator (LeMay). This crucial move was a turning point in the Pacific war.
In the spring and summer of 1945, Arnold was a driven leader, almost willing the B-29 campaign and the air and sea blockade to collapse Japan before the scheduled massive invasion of Kyushu on November 1st. It was a tense race against the invasion clock and the conviction of General George C. Marshall, Army Chief of Staff, that an invasion was absolutely necessary. Although the Soviet declaration of war on Japan was a factor in the Japanese surrender, it was the atomic bomb that politically shocked the Japanese to capitulation. Arnold, the architect of the bombing offensive, emphasized that Japan was already defeated in the summer of 1945 by the bombing and blockade and that it was not militarily necessary to drop the atomic bomb.
Wolk brings out important rationales and connections in doctrine, organization, and command not previously published. He also mines sources not previously exploited, including the author's interviews with General LeMay, Hansell, and Eaker; Arnold's wartime correspondence; documentation from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library; and postwar interrogations of Japanese officials and civilians.Cataclysm will prove an important addition to the history of the Pacific War, airpower, and the debate over the use of the atomic bomb against Japan.
Over the years, I've learned that people at every level of experience and responsibility learn about leadership best from stories which resonate with their own lives. Through a variety of stories, Bill Looney has captured the importance leaders play in creating the right environment to allow organizations to exceed expectations. His reflections on leadership provide a wealth of lessons learned. Well done!
Richard B. Myers, Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Whether you are leading military forces or a corporate entity, success is all about exceeding expectations. Bill Looney has it right, and his leadership approach works--I use it in my company! This is a must read for all leaders and those who aspire to leadership positions.
Andrew C. Taylor, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Enterprise Rent-A-Car
There is a dire need for effective leadership in American enterprise today and General Bill Looney's book offers an excellent how-to perspective. As you read it, ask yourself, "How can I apply these common sense techniques to exceed expectations?" Believe me, they will work for you!
Bob Gaylor, 5th Chief Master Sergeant of the US Air Force
About the Author
General Bill Looney retired from the United States Air Force as a general having served on active-duty for forty years. He graduated from the US Air Force Academy in 1966 where was the Cadet Wing Commander and continued to exceed expectations from that point forward. General Looney eventually commanded more organizations than any other Air Force general officer in history with each organization he led achieving demonstrable higher levels of performance and productivity. He is a highly-decorated officer with over 4,200 flying hours. He and his wife, Marilyn, have two daughters, two son-in-laws (both Air Force officers and pilots) and two grandchildren.
A Marine Night-Fighter Pilot In World War II
Colonel R. Bruce Porter with Eric Hammel
Ace! is the story of Bruce Porter's life as a Marine combat fighter pilot -- from his days as a naval aviation cadet prior to World War II, through his adventures guarding the United States' forward-most line of defense in the South Pacific. Follow Porter through his exacting night-fighter training and fly with him on his rare double-kill night mission over Okinawa.
Includes an introduction by "Pappy" Boyington, the man portrayed by Robert Conrad in the hit television series Baa Baa Blacksheep.