Although it took place over three decades ago, the Vietnam War, at times, seems to be a scar that will not heal. This memoir/essay details the journey of an extremely eager true believer, a young pilot who couldn't wait to get in the war, and was afraid it would be over before he could participate. Starting in the early sixties, this memoir captures the thoughts and feelings of a somewhat idealistic, young pilot as he seeks adventure, glory and excitement, in what he believes to be a truly worthwhile cause.
The narrative covers Colonel McCarthy's assignment to the F-4 Phantom II fighter, at the time one of the most capable fighter planes available. It details the extensive training necessary to turn him into a fighter pilot, and follows him as he is thrust into the midst of the intense air campaigns over North Vietnam and Laos. The numerous descriptions of toe curling missions give the reader a realistic feeling of what it was like to be in combat, but, more than that, they show how America's longest and most divisive war was perceived by those who were at the very sharpest point of the spear. Unlike many fighter pilot narratives of combat, McCarthy's retrospective account offered him an opportunity to reexamine his past beliefs, and he candidly discusses why they have altered significantly. While the accounts of air combat are riveting by themselves, these reflections prove to be equally fascinating.
About the Author:
Mike McCarthy is a retired Colonel currently teaching at Arizona State University. During the Vietnam War, he was an F4D Phantom II pilot assigned to the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing at Ubon Royal Thai Air Base, and flew 124 missions against North Vietnam and Laos from 1967 to 1968. Assignments at the Pentagon in both Headquarters USAF and the Office of Secretary of Defense provided valuable insight on how major policy decisions are developed and implemented.