In October 1970 Vietnam was hit by the impact of two massive typhoons in short succession, triggering widespread and potentially disastrous flooding. This book looks at the relief efforts carried out by one particular US Chinook unit, which spent three days rescuing isolated villagers and moving them to higher and drier ground. During this period the North Vietnamese operated an unofficial cease fire, which allowed the operation to take place.
The author has taken an unusual approach here. Instead of aiming to be as accurate as possible, he has deliberately written a ‘war story’. All the events in the book did happen, but not always in the order portrayed here, and not always involving the same person as here. The aim is recreate the atmosphere of the time, and give an overall idea of what happened, and in this the author is entirely successful. This is a really atmospheric account of life within his unit, giving us a feel for the lives of the author and his closest colleagues, and how that differed from the more familiar stories of the infantry in Vietnam. We are thus familiar with the main characters when the rescue operation itself begins.
The section on the rescue operations is interesting in its own right, looking at the very limited contact between the US air crews and the Vietnamese civilians, and the variety of situations in the villages, with one even appearing to be a US Special Forces base. One can’t help think that the lack of contact played a major part in the US failure in Vietnam, as the civilian population of the south was increasingly seen a source of enemies rather than the people the Americans were trying to help, and here is a direct example of how valuable that help could have been.
1 - The Men of Playtex and Life in Vietnam
2 - The 159th, The Aircraft, and the Mission
3 - October 14, 1970
4 - October 16, 1970
5 - October 17, 1970
6 - October 18, 1970
7 - October 24, 1970
8 - October 25, 1970
9 - October 26, 1970
10 - October 27, 1970
11 - Typhoon Joan Arrives and the Typhoon Truce Begins
12 - October 28, 1970
13 - October 29, 1970
14 - October 30, 1970
15 - October 31, 1970 - The Aftermath
Author: Robert F. Curtis