Firebirds: The Best First Person Account of Helicopter Combat in Vietnam Ever Written

Chuck Carlock, Author
Chuck Carlock, Author Summit Publishing Group $22.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-56530-204-4
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
""One rocket had hit dead center between the shoulder blades of a VC, and as it exploded, his commie soul was left in a geyser of mud, blood, and human debris."" With remarks like these, Carlock brings to gruesome life his stint in Vietnam, 1967-1968, flying gunships and ""slicks,"" or troop-carrying choppers, for the Army. A 19-year-old volunteer who expected adventure with a spice of danger, Carlock instead found horror and learned fear. He flew fragile machines without parachutes, with no limit on the number of missions, in a war whose purpose was opaque. He is brutally frank about his feelings and actions. To Carlock, Vietnamese on the ground were targets, and he describes his kills in the tone of a big-game hunter. But if his enemies were faceless, they were human as well: eager to shoot him down, to burn him alive in the wreckage of his ship or to execute him should he try to surrender. This grim narrative is a compelling reminder that the essence of war is killing from fear of being killed, and that killing is never a remote process, even when done from the air. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour. (Mar.)
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