FAST MOVERS by John Darrell Sherwood


America's Jet Pilots and the Vietnam Experience
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A tribute to some little-known heroes of our longest and most unpopular conflict. Sherwood (Officers in Flight Suits, not reviewed), a historian at the Naval Historical Center in Washington, D.C., delves into the psyche of jet fighter-pilots (—fast movers—) and into the warrior virtues of bravery, bonding with comrades, risk-taking, and sacrifice for the unit. Combat offers a unique chance to test character, he argues, depicting his subjects as men with great motivation secure in the knowledge that their comrades would come their rescue even if they were shot down in enemy territory. These proud soldiers fought wherever and whenever they were ordered, even in a senseless war condemned by public opinion. Sherwod’s extensive research included interviews with 300 pilots and communications with hundreds more by phone or e-mail. Among the most memorable figures to emerge is Col. Robin Olds, —Old Lionheart,— a WWII ace whose feisty behavior and hell- raising with his men did not sit well with his —chair-borne— superiors. Olds’s innovative leadership, intelligence, courage, and skill earned him a reputation as the finest Air Wing Commander in Vietnam; he later became superintendent of the Air Force Academy. Scared air cadet Ed Rasimus evolved into a superb veteran who survived the toughest, most dangerous —100 missions North— while serving three tours in Vietnam. Other notable pilots and airmen whose adventures Sherwood recounts include Roger Sheets, John Nichols, Bob Lodge, and Steve Richie, who attacked the formidable Hanoi air defenses (SAM missiles and the latest MIG fighters, backed by some two billion dollars of Soviet materiel). Of the 801 Americans POEs taken during the war, 501 were airmen. A different view of Vietnam, candidly delving into the experiences of its air warriors, their joys, sorrows, achievements, and sacrifices during the worst of times.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-684-84784-1
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1999


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