Did you like the intro rescue sequence on this site? It was created and produced by my eldest son, David, (David E, no junior here!), who also did the banner at the top of each page, the ‘floating’ helicopter you can click on to order the book and other things too numerous to mention here. David is the acknowledged ‘computer guru’ of the family, (closely followed by my youngest son, Mark) who has spent countless hours advising and assisting me. Thanks, David.
(Unfortunately, the sequence developed glitches. I will repost it when it is fixed.)
The Making of Vietnam Air Rescues
For those who might be interested in how the book came about,
the following history is offered:
I am, and always have been, an avid reader. In addition to spending a great amount of my time in reading, I constantly carry an 'emergency book' to fill in spare moments, so it probably was inevitable I should set down my experiences in writing. Reading was certainly a great diversion while I was in Vietnam.
This book has a somewhat convoluted history. I was a ‘Jolly Green’ combat rescue helicopter pilot in Vietnam in 1967-1968. When I finished my tour in Vietnam, I was assigned to Germany as a helicopter pilot flying VIP’s and light cargo. While in Germany, our family participated in the Volksmarch program, which consisted of walks of varying length through the German countryside. Each participant who finished the route earned a souvenir medal. To pass the time while on these hikes I began relating my Vietnam experiences to my two older sons.
Thirty years after my last rescue, my second son, Craig, who was by then an Army helicopter pilot stationed in Korea, found an internet listing searching for me. With the connivance of my wife, he furnished my contact information to those who had requested the information.
So it was that, on a Sunday afternoon, I received a call inquiring if I was ‘Jolly 09’. I was flabbergasted and asked who wanted to know. Turns out it was one of the ‘Sandy’ pilots (call sign of the fighters who provided armed escort for the helicopters), who said the Air Force had requested that the surviving participants of that rescue travel to Nellis AFB in Nevada to brief them on that mission.
I jumped at the chance and my wife, Kaye, and I traveled to Nellis. It was there that I met (under much more desirable circumstances!) many of the folks who had flown on my final mission. One of them was the survivor I had picked up. We began an on again/off again correspondence via email.
Having gotten the ball rolling, so to speak, Craig began pestering me to write down all those stories he and his brother had heard so many years earlier. I was reluctant to do this, however. It sounded like a lot of work. So, the project just faded away. Shortly after this, I retired from my teaching job and Kaye and I moved to Kansas where Craig and his family (with, at the time, our only grandchildren) resided. Craig began pestering me anew about writing a book, but I wasn’t interested.
Then, I received an email from the survivor of that last rescue. In it he jotted down the essentials of what had occurred; at least from his point of view. Intrigued, I wrote a counterpoint and found the task to be enjoyable. I decided to attempt a written record of those events from so long ago. A key ingredient was my locating my old flak map and discovering that I had written down the dates and location of each rescue on the back.
Thus began a lengthy period wherein I would write down the particulars of each rescue, while Craig researched and produced maps from the grid coordinates I supplied. We were also able to scan and use the old pictures I had taken while over there. We decided to produce our efforts on standard typing paper, bound with a ‘comb’ format.
Since this would be a ‘legacy’ of sorts to my children, I was faced with the problem of what sort of format it would take. After much soul-searching, I decided to write my own (very unauthorized) history of the Vietnam War for their benefit.
My final format was as follows:
- An Introductory Letter to my (now 4) sons
- A Table of Contents
- The Unauthorized History
- A section, titled, ‘In the Beginning’, detailing day to day events in the life of a Jolly Green pilot not related to any specific rescue
- The Rescues, themselves
- A Section, titled, ‘Bits & Pieces’, relating non-rescue experiences I had
- A section, titled, ‘This Way to the Egress’, which closed out the narrative section
- A section, titled, ‘Jargon’, defining the military terms used.
- In January of 2003, we printed 10 copies under the title, ‘An Old Helicopter Pilot Remembers Vietnam’ on a laser printer and distributed them between the boys and myself. It had been fun, but I was glad it was over. This was the First Edition.
Then, friends and other family members found out about this project and began requesting copies for themselves. Initially, I copied everything onto a CD and sent them to those who asked for one. I also added a few anecdotes which I had failed to include in the original version. This became the Second Edition.
The Third Edition came about when I discovered a method of producing your own paperback books. Determined to try it, I produced six copies, which included minor typographical changes. My experience was that, although producing your own paperback books is fun, it is also extremely time consuming, so I once again resigned from the book writing business.
But that was not to be. After awhile, my eldest son, David, suggested that I produce the whole thing as an e-book. At first, I resisted this effort, but finally decided it was the way to get me out of the CD production business. David insisted I change my ‘stogy’ title, so, after much thought, I renamed the book, ‘Vietnam Air Rescues’. Producing the material in e-book form was a lot of work, but we finally got it ready. This became the Fourth Edition.
Once again, I ‘retired’ from the book business. Or, at least I thought I had. It wasn’t long before David came up with the idea of having an actual book printed and began bugging me to do just that. As always, I was reluctant. I had heard horror stories about rejection notices and the general inability to get a private venture published. David countered these objections by locating several POD (Publish on Demand) companies.
So I embarked on the Fifth Edition of my book. After looking at several POD publishers, I concluded that Amazon offered the best package through their CreateSpace program. They offered exactly what I wanted, a no cost upfront, quality product with no minimum number of books required. They also provided a free, sales website. I already had this website, which I had developed after relying heavily on both David and son #4, Mark. It was David who developed and produced the animated opening sequence and the banner at the top of each page.
I decided that, if I was going to have a commercially published book, I needed to ‘shape it up’, so to speak. The first thing to change was the cover. I had produced my own cover for the earlier editions. It was OK, but I felt a new, commercially produced cover, was called for. Therefore, I initiated a search for a cover designer that in the end turned international. Out of 18 submissions, I eventually picked a fellow in England who worked well with me and produced what I consider to be an outstanding cover.
Oddly enough, it was not what I originally envisioned. I had stipulated quite stringent guidelines for what I wanted. He sent me some great renditions following my instructions, but also included some of his own, ‘just for comparisons sake’. I was literally ‘blown away’. His concept was so much better than mine!