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Price of Exit: A True Story of Helicopter Pilots in Vietnam

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  • Posted August 20, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Invaluable insight of the last few years of U.S. involvement in Vietnam

    This is truly one of the most insightful books I have ever read on the very end of the line for the U.S. in their 'pull-out' in Vietnam, circa 1970-1971. The knowledge the reader will gain in this book far surpasses 'Chickenhawk', 'Taking Fire' and 'Apache Sunrise'. Tom Marshall puts the reader in the helicopter cockpit for all the action that occurred while flying along the NVA infested DMZ and during the 'Vietnamization Period' where the U.S. turned over the entire war over to our ally-the South Vietnamese Gov't and it's army to fend for itself as Nixon acquiesed to a war weary public's harsh cry to end the war. Without ruining a great story, Marshall skillfully describes combat assults and string extractions 'pulling soldiers out of hot combat zones from helicopters via rope and long ladders' of trapped S.O.G. Teams (Special Operations Group SEAL Teams) that were inserted behind the lines deep in enemy territory that would have been wiped out and overrun without immediate helicopter rescue. The reader hears the AK-47 fire and can feel the exploding mortar shells shot by the communists at U.S. helicopters. Marshall details exactly what happened during Operation 'Lam Son 719' between Feb. 8th and March 25, 1971. This was an offensive campaign conducted (and like the 1970 Cambodian Incursion shielded from the American public by the Nixon Administration) in the S.E. portion of Laos by the South Vietnamese Army. Marshall carefully describes exactly how the U.S. and in particular, the Phoenix, C Company, 158 Aviation Battalion, 101st Airborne, provided logistical, aerial and artillary support to the operation while it's ground forces were prohibited from entering Laotian territory. Marshall describes NVA atrocities, their tactics and ruthlessness, and how no American wanted to be the last one to die in a war this country had long given up on and abandoned. The reason he called the book 'The Price of Exit' was simply because out of Tom Marshall's 130 helicopter-school classmates, 30 percent paid the heavy price of the accelerated U.S. withdrawal pace....with their lives! Marshall also touches on how the U.S. military initiated 'smart bombs' in Vietnam, drug use in the military, racial tension, and the general feeling of futility, shattered beliefs and abandonment of American virtue. Marshall also covers the little known fact that the U.S. military dropped 'electronic sensors' via air designed to report movement of vehicles and people along the North's major infiltration route into South Vietnam, i.e. the infamous 'Ho Chi Minh Trail'. I have not come across a book as good as this in a long time. Read it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2014


    Well documented thoughtful account

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2000

    Death and Life from above.

    The helicopter pilots of Vietnam brought both death and life from the skies over Vietnam, Cambodia and as described in this book, Laos. Death came in the form of aerial rocket artillary and heavily armed troopers of the 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile) (The SCREAMING EAGLES). Life in the form of DUST-OFF medevac helicopters. Not since Robert Mason's description of the Battle of Ia Drang Valley in his book CHICKEN HAWK has anyone described the tension and fear , as well as the relief, brought to the enemy as 'widow makers' and the wounded as 'airborne ambulances' by the chopper pilots of The United States Army.

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