Vietnam above the Treetops: A Forward Air Controller Reports

Hardcover | February 1, 1992

byJohn F. Flanagan

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It is 1966, the war is escalating, and a young Air Force Academy graduate's assignment is to patrol unfriendly territory with six-man hunter-killer teams. As a Forward Air Controller, flying single engine spotter planes, Flanagan is the link between fighter-bomber pilots and ground forces. This autobiographical account recreates the period when Flanagan, assigned to Project Delta, was plunged into major operations in key combat areas. Spectacular airstrikes, team rescues, lost men, thwarted attempts to save comrades--all are recounted here with raw honesty. A factual combat history from one man's perspective, this is also a thoughtful look at the warrior values of bravery, honesty, and integrity. Flanagan examines the influences that help build these values--educational institutions, the military training system (including the service academies), and religion--and reflects on the high cost of abandoning them. In Vietnam Above the Treetops, Flanagan traces his life from adolescence through the training period, combat missions of all kinds, and re-entry into the everyday world. His war tales take us to key regions: from the Demilitarized Zone, south through the Central highlands, and into War Zone C near Cambodia. Flanagan tells the absolute truth of his experience in Vietnam-- call signs, bomb loads, and target coordinates are all historically accurate. He offers observations on the Vietnamese and Korean forces he worked with, comparing Eastern and Western cultures, and he vents his frustrations with the U.S. command structure. Determined to reconstruct the past, Flanagan re-read old letters from Vietnam, examined maps, deciphered pocket diaries, interviewed former comrades, and let hisown long-buried memories surface. Flanagan did not find this book easy to write, but he wanted to pay tribute to his fellow warriors, especially those still missing in action; he wanted to exorcise his war nightmares and further understand his experience. Even more important, he needed to communicate the values he and his comrades lived by, in distant jungles where they faced some of the toughest circumstances known to human beings.

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From Our Editors

As a Forward Air Controller during the escalating Vietnam war, Flanagan was plunged into major operations in key combat areas. A factual combat history with spectacular air strikes, team rescues, lost men, and thwarted rescue attempts, this autobiographical account is also a thoughtful look at the values of the soldier. 23 photographs;...

From the Publisher

It is 1966, the war is escalating, and a young Air Force Academy graduate's assignment is to patrol unfriendly territory with six-man hunter-killer teams. As a Forward Air Controller, flying single engine spotter planes, Flanagan is the link between fighter-bomber pilots and ground forces. This autobiographical account recreates the pe...

Format:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 9.54 × 6.52 × 1.23 inPublished:February 1, 1992Publisher:Praeger Publishers

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0275937380

ISBN - 13:9780275937386

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From Our Editors

As a Forward Air Controller during the escalating Vietnam war, Flanagan was plunged into major operations in key combat areas. A factual combat history with spectacular air strikes, team rescues, lost men, and thwarted rescue attempts, this autobiographical account is also a thoughtful look at the values of the soldier. 23 photographs; map

Editorial Reviews

?An Air Force officer's vigorous account of the Vietnam War...Flanagan's memoir is not like Robert Mason's in Chickenhawk (1983), where the naive young officer is transformed into an embittered veteran questioning all wars. Flanagan became a general. His job in Vietnam was to fly close in with small aircraft, to report and coordinate what he saw; sometimes, too, he had to don infantry gear and head into the jungle. Many of his blow-by-blow accounts of battles are drawn from notes...This is the perspective of a veteran who feels we failed because of a lack of resolve, that the news media distorted events or couldn't understand them, that the antiwar movement meant well but was wrong...Splendid tales of combat. Flanagan, a U.S. Air Force pilot in the Vietnam War, describes his experiences as a forward air controller (FAC) working with our allies and with U.S. Army DELTA teams. (A forward air controller flies in a small prop plane and acts as a link between ground troops and larger attack aircraft by providing navigational aid and marking targets.) Flanagan's introduction, describing his deep psychological need to share his war experiences, leads the reader to expect a harrowing study of what war does to people (in the vein of James C. Donahue's No Greater Love: A Day with the Mobile Guerrilla Forces in Vietnam, Daring Bks., 1988; or Matthew Brennan's Brennan's War, Pocket Bks., 1989). Instead, one finds the same set-piece descriptions of ground combat that are standard in Vietnam War books. The author's large ego might make readers think Ehat Flanagan was the best FAC ever to serve in the war. Little depth here, just the diary of a pilot on an unglamorous but important mission.Recommended only for libraries with large Vietnam War collections.?-Library Journal