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Air-dropping agents deep behind enemy lines in clandestine night missions during the Korean War, commanding secret flights into Tibet in 1960 to support the anticommunist guerilla uprising, participating in plans for the 1962 Bay of Pigs invasion—even before the escalation of the Vietnam War, Brigadier General Harry C. “Heinie” Aderholt worked at the heart of both the U.S. Air Force and CIA special operations worldwide. In 1964 he became commander of the famed First Air Commando Wing, fighting to build up special operations capabilities among the American and South Vietnamese airmen. In 1966 and 1967 he and his men set the record for interdicting the flow of enemy trucks over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos and North Vietnam.
Drawing on official records, personal papers, and interviews with Aderholt and many who worked with him, Air Force historian Warren A. Trest details the life and career of this charismatic, unconventional military leader who has become a legend of the Cold War Air Force. He tells how Aderholt’s vigorous support of low-flying, propeller-driven aircraft and nonnuclear munitions pitted him against his superiors, who were steeped in doctrines of massive retaliation and “higher and faster” tactical air power. In the mid-1960s Aderholt’s clash with Seventh Air Force Commander General William W. Momyer reflected a schism that still exists between the traditional Air Force and its unconventional special operations wings. The book also integrates U.S. Air Force and CIA accounts of some of the most pivotal events of the past fifty years.
Aderholt and Captain Lou Droste made the first C-47 napalm drop against a target that Fifth Air Force intelligence had identified as an enemy headquarters. On Christmas Eve, Heinie and Droste made a reconnaissance run over the target. They observed a large, barn-like structure sitting in the open with tracks leading through the snow into the building. "At dawn the following morning, flying at minimum altitude, 50 feet off the ground, we delivered a Christmas present---two napalm canisters crashing through the front door at the same time," Heinie recalled. "The building erupted in flames. Nobody got out." That was the first time the 21st Troop Carrier Squadron's planes had dropped napalm, and was believed to have been the first napalm dropped in combat from a transport aircraft.
The detachment believed higher headquarters was unaware of its midnight bombing runs until Colonel Childre called and said, "I know you have been dropping napalm." Hesitantly, Heinie answered, "Yes." "Well, officially I've got to tell you not to do it," Childre said, "but I know you are going to do it anyway."
|Prologue: The Man and the Mission||1|
|1.||The Call to Arms||16|
|2.||On Assignment with the CIA||51|
|3.||Cold War Rituals||64|
|4.||Shadow Wars and the Tibetan Airlift||75|
|5.||The Secret War in Laos||99|
|6.||The Air Commandos: A Breed Apart||125|
|7.||Faces of a Misbegotten War||157|
|8.||The Tigers of Nakhon Phanom||182|
|9.||Weathering the Storm||213|
Posted April 2, 2001
This book was fascinating...and enlightening! I have become aware of how little I know about the 'goings on' of the time, but I'm hooked! I can't wait to learn more through other books. I am the daughter of one of the individuals mentioned in the book, so I have a special affinity for the stories and their relevance to my father. But, I swell with pride, not just at his accomplishments, but at the courage and conviction displayed my so many listed in the book. These are the people who did 'it' because 'it' was the right thing to do!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.