Helicopter gunner during the Vietnam "police action", August 2, 2010 By Cy B. "Cy. (Cherry Tree, PA United States)
This review is from: Missions of Fire and Mercy: Until Death Do Us Part (Paperback) I have never read a book with such detailed war action. The Vietnam War, or as our government referred to it as a "police action", was not a popular war in the minds of the American people. The returning heroes from that war were, in the most part, looked down on by way too many. In too many situations these men were booed, shied away from, and were outcasts to many who turned their back on war heroes. These men went through pure physical and mental torture just by being in the Vietnam area regardless of the fact that they were there following orders from our government. I never looked down on any of these warriors but felt so sorry for what they suffered by others actions. Most of these men were, and are still suffering with PTSD along with the affects of Agent Orange, a chemical used to defoliate vegetation in Viet Nam that many soldiers were subjected to while in action.
Bill Peterson has written a classic book describing his life from the day he enlisted in the army to specifically serve in Vietnam to his life after. Most of his action was as a door gunner that shot through the huge openings on the sides of helicopters at any enemy humans, vehicles, and anything they perceived as a threat to their helicopter or men. Bill was also a helicopter Crew Chief during most of his service. This job required more than nerves of steel; it also created an instilled mental outlook that humans be ready to kill or be killed themselves. Their missions included inserting troops in a certain zone, picking up those men or their survivors after the battle subsided enough to so allow, transporting food, rescuing other crews that had crashed or landed in an enemy location due to helicopter damage, and many other jobs with the worst possible ones being picking up broken bodies that might be dead or alive. Part of their missions were to try to patch up those still alive by using very limited medical supplies that were carried on these fighting machines. They saw and picked up parts of bodies, men that had parts of their guts or brains falling out of their bodies, all while trying to keep themselves alive and still get the helicopter back to base. They lost many while attempting to transport. They watched men die right in front of them knowing they could do nothing to assist them or keep them alive. Their mental state got to the point that killing enemy combatants was the norm instead of merely chance. If you can read this book and not think so much more positive of the Vietnam War veterans, you haven't read the same book I did. You might not agree with why the "police action" was fought but that fight was with our nations government, not the brave and gallant men that did the dirty work for their leaders. Every war has its casualties and the types of casualties may differ but reading Bill Peterson's exacting account of what occurred in Viet nam should make all of us so proud of what these men did as directed by their commanders, agree of the tactics or not. When Bill met a woman from Vietnam after the war, he attempted to relay his feelings towards her as she brought so many memories back to him of the people our nations military killed and how many they saved. That result will never be fully known. Thanks Bill Peterson for a fantastic story of your military life and especially your twelve months of very involved action in Vietnam.