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  • By don brooks
    Nov 13, 2010
    Forward Air Controllers: Men who flew willingly to the Sound of Battle By Jimmie H. Butler Fly to the Sound of Battle, by Don Brooks is a remarkable tale of his combat tour flying OV-10 Broncos over South Vietnam and Cambodia as a Forward Air Controller. I enjoyed comparing and contrasting his experiences with my earlier tour as a FAC over the Ho Chi Minh Trail through Laos. You don’t need to have been a FAC, however, to be drawn into this first-hand account of combat during a difficult war. You don’t even have to start out with a clue about what a USAF Forward Air Controller was during the Vietnam War. Don presents it all in an easy-to-understand fashion. If you want the fast explanation, you can jump to the bottom half of page 151 to listen in on Major Brooks responding to complaints of a couple of lieutenants he’d kept grounded because the air strip at Quan Loi was socked in. His one-sided conversation included: “Right now, as young lieutenants flying as FACs, you probably have... More > more authority and freedom to make important decisions—life and death decisions—than you will ever have again as long as you are in the military. Nowhere else will you find pilots with your limited experience making calls like you do every day!” He closes with, “So please, don’t come to me with your petty bitching about having too many restrictions on what you do! You will never again have the authority and responsibility you have today, so get over it!” You won’t find any braggadocio of look-at-what-a-hero-Don Brooks-was. Most FACs are that way. FACs were out there doing their job and trying to save as many of the good guys as possible. As you read Don’s matter-of-fact accounts of various missions, you will understand what a hero he was without him having any need to point that out. When I pick up something to read about the Vietnam War, I’m normally eager to get to the war stuff. However, Don’s choice of interesting anecdote after anecdote works quite well. Make me wish I had kept track of all the great stories I encountered over the years. Don includes many laugh-out-loud tales with plenty of self-deprecating humor mixed in throughout the book. The grand finale gives readers an inside look at a mission 20 days before the scheduled completion of his combat tour. You’ll experience vicariously what happens when a burst of .50 caliber machine-gun fire suddenly turns half your craft into an inferno 3,000 feet above enemy territory. Ordering his back-seater out first because of the fire being right behind the cockpit, Don was immediately surrounded by flames drawn forward after the ejection. His back-seater watching from beneath his parachute said that the entire cockpit was a fireball when Don popped out of it after his ejection seat finally fired. Don’t expect PC. When you’ve survived a tour as a FAC, you have no need or inclination to be politically correct ever again. As an instructor of writing and someone who has helped a few hundred aspiring writers in critique groups over nearly 25 years, I find it difficult to read any manuscript without critiquing the writing. I was pleasantly surprised to find Don’s writing style quite good and far superior to most of the aspiring writers I’ve worked with. So I was quickly able to take off my writer’s hat and enjoy Don’s book as a fellow FAC. I’m sure other veterans also will enjoy the trip down memory lane with Don’s specific memories complementing many of our own. I highly recommend Fly to the Sound of Battle to anyone interested in tales of combat aviation. I doubt any pilot ever entered USAF pilot training with the goal of becoming a FAC. For most FACs, the assignment wasn’t on the top line—or likely any other line—of their dream sheet. Nevertheless, for the majority of us who survived a combat tour as a FAC, we look back upon that year as one of the most—if not the most—significant year in our Air Force careers. As you read Fly to the Sound of Battle, you’ll begin to understand why. Jimmie H. Butler, Nail 12, 23rd Tactical Air Support Squadron NKP, 7 February 1967-5 January 1968 Colonel Jimmie H. Butler, USAF, Retired, flew 240 combat missions as a FAC in Cessna O-1s and O-2s, mostly over the Ho Chi Minh Trail through Laos in 1967. At the Air War College, his report on FAC operations over the Trail in 1966-1968 earned the Air Force Historical Society’s 1980 award for the best report of historical interest. His third published novel, A Certain Brotherhood, is a fact-based tale of FACs in the secret war over the Ho Chi Minh Trail.< Less
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Product Details

Don L. Brooks
August 8, 2010
Hardcover (dust-jacket)
Interior Ink
Black & white
1 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
6 wide x 9 tall
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