I have to start by saying that I love to read true stories - the good, the bad and the ugly :) This is a good one.
Dave Richardson is a man who was sent to Vietnam in the late 60's and he chose to be a helicopter rescue pilot while he was in the war. This put him in a position to have some fascinating experiences and it gave him a chance to see his faith in action during trying and dangerous times.
Vietnam Air Rescues started out as a book from a father, to his family. It was the chance to share his experiences and to help the family understand what he did during his time in Vietnam. A big part of the book are Dave's recollections and pictures from his rescues. There are many pictures throughout the book which are a great addition. I should mention that Dave does remind us that the pictures were taken over 30 years ago and most were taken under "less than favorable" conditions. Some of the pictures are out of focus, but when you read the content and realize what he was doing at the time he was taking the pictures, a bit of fuzz should be ignored.
The book begins with Dave Richardson's "Totally Unauthorized History of the Vietnam War". He shares his reflections of the war and his time overseas. He also explains the various editions of the book. The first edition was written for Dave Richardson's family, but as others requested copies, slight changes were made to make the story appropriate for other readers.
Dave shares many interesting details throughout the book, a jargon section, information about a typical day, details about the missions he flew, he shares maps of the area and full details on each of his rescues.
I feel that the personal feel is very obvious in the book. It feels like a friend is telling you about a year in his life and you get involved in the things they did to kill time when they had time to spare. We also feel the tension as he struggles to rescue a pilot who was shot down, realizing that a mistake would mean death for a number of people. It was never a situation where he only had to worry about his own life.
I interviewed Dave Richardson on my radio show and I got the chance to learn so many additional details. Learning more about how a person handles a helicopter added more tension to the rescue sections. I highly recommend listening to the interview for plenty of details. (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/nikkileigh/2008/08/18/Nikki-Leigh-Talks-with-Dave-Richardson)
On August 25th, I will interview Dave Richardson and the last person he rescued, Kenny Fields. Both men wrote books about their experiences. One of the interesting things is that these two books give us the perspective from the air and the perspective from the ground. Dave was days from going home and he agreed to go out one more time. Little did he know what would happen over the next 48 hours. Kenny Fields was stranded on the ground and the rescue planes and helicopters had a very difficult time - these men will share their stories with us.
If you prefer to read the details - Dave Richardson's book is Vietnam Air Rescues (www.amazon.com/Vietnam-Air-Rescues-Dave-Richardson/dp/1434891348/nikkileighaut-20)
Kenny Fields book is Rescue of Streetcar 304: A Navy Pilot's Forty Hours on the Run in Laos (www.amazon.com/Rescue-Streetcar-304-Pilots-Forty/dp/1591142717/nikkileighaut-20)