cover image From a Dark Sky: The Story of U.S. Air Force Special Operations

From a Dark Sky: The Story of U.S. Air Force Special Operations

Orr Kelly, Author Presidio Press $24.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-89141-520-6

The U.S. military has done a generally excellent job of publicizing the glamorous, dangerous and vital work performed by its special forces. The Air Force, however, has maintained relative silence on the exploits, indeed the existence, of its own commando units. This is partly because, traditionally, Air Force special ops teams have been particularly fond of deception and averse to record keeping. Military affairs specialist Kelly (Brave Men--Dark Waters) has undertaken the laborious task of writing the history of these secretive commandos. Relying on old-fashioned detective work, he has pieced together records and remembrances dating from the 1943-era ""Project 9"" in Burma to present-day operations. The resulting stories are as bizarre as anything to emerge from the annals of special forces--such as the 1944 mission to deliver British army mules behind enemy lines in Burma via balsa-wood gliders, or the courageous yet ultimately unnecessary 1975 mission to rescue the crew of the U.S.S. Mayaguez from captivity in Cambodia. But despite many episodes of high jinks and adventure, this isn't a puff book. Kelly records victory as well as defeat, analyzing what has worked and what has not for air commandos. His fine work should be of great interest and usefulness both to casual readers and to uniformed students of special ops. Photos not seen by PW. (Aug.)