Always a Warrior; etc.) in this combat-heavy memoir. Most army heli"/>

TAKING FIRE: The True Story of a Decorated Chopper Pilot

Ron Alexander, Author, Charles W. Sasser, Author, Charles W. Sasser, Joint Author . St. Martin's $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-312-26984-5

Now a high school math teacher, Alexander tells his Vietnam War story with the help of Sasser (Always a Warrior; etc.) in this combat-heavy memoir. Most army helicopter pilots in the Vietnam War were young, rapidly trained warrant officers. Alexander was an exception. After a year of college, he joined the army in 1964, went Airborne, completed Officer Candidate School and then learned to fly helicopters. He arrived in Vietnam as a lieutenant in 1969 and flew scores of missions with the 1st Cavalry Division. Alexander and Sasser use much obviously reconstructed dialogue, some admittedly "re-created" scenes and a mixture of real and made-up names. They also pepper the narrative with profanity, disparaging terms for Vietnamese and helicopter techno talk, all of which dilutes the book's impact. However, they succeed quite well in evoking the Vietnam War from the point of view of a helicopter pilot who served bravely and with distinction. They also convincingly convey Alexander's changing feelings about the war. While he initially tried to avoid serving in the war, once in Vietnam he "embraced the war" as a fervent anti-Communist patriot. After months of heavy combat, though, Alexander had "second thoughts" about the war. Although he continued to serve honorably, Alexander's main goal in the final months of his Vietnam tour was to come home alive and in one piece. He succeeded. Photos. (July 26)

Reviewed on: 05/28/2001
Release date: 07/01/2001
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