Bonnie-Sue: A Marine Corps Helicopter Squadron in Vietnam

Overview

Bonnie-Sue begins as a timeless classic, a story of men in combat. Yet, the book soars far above the mud of war. The author blends detail, emotion, and grim realism. Day by day, without profanity, he breathes life into a desperate struggle for survival. Against the backdrop of the turbulent 1960s, Bonnie-Sue evolves into a saga of commitment and sacrifice, love and brotherhood.
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1999 Soft Cover Fine- 8vo-over 7?"-9?" tall. First published in 1996, this is the third printing from 1999 510 pages, illustrated. "Step through this unique looking-glass into ... the volatile crucible of combat in Vietnam. Day by day, the author breathes life into this eloquent saga of Marines at war." FINE-SOFTCOVER. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Bonnie-Sue begins as a timeless classic, a story of men in combat. Yet, the book soars far above the mud of war. The author blends detail, emotion, and grim realism. Day by day, without profanity, he breathes life into a desperate struggle for survival. Against the backdrop of the turbulent 1960s, Bonnie-Sue evolves into a saga of commitment and sacrifice, love and brotherhood.
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Editorial Reviews

Leatherneck Magazine
To date, there is no better book about the Marine helicopter war in Vietnam. It rises above the mud of war and takes the reader on a ride that is not only terrifying, but an inspiring mission with professional and courageous men.
Marine Corps Aviation Association
This is our story, told some twenty to thirty years later, but as chilling and touching to us who were there as if it took place yesterday. Who are we? We are every Marine Corps helicopter crewman who flew in Vietnam.
Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association
There is no crying or remorse, only a factual, hard hitting, and truthful approach to reality. The detailed history of the Marine helicopter pilots has never been written in such a hard, cold-steel, factual way as this great book reveals.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780965081429
  • Publisher: Heritage Press International
  • Publication date: 3/28/1997
  • Pages: 510
  • Product dimensions: 5.88 (w) x 9.13 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Read an Excerpt

1. Most Grunts look upon transportation by helicopter as an evil omen, an occupational hazard, a mode of travel to be avoided if humanly possible. For these Grunts, a helicopter assault into a hot landing zone can be terrifying. While in the helicopter in the air, they have no control over their destiny. Strapped into the web troop seats, they are buffeted by the wild vibration of a twisting high-speed autorotative descent. The shrill metallic whine of the aft transmission drowns out the wail of the turbines. Battered by the tooth-jarring shudders from flying through the invisible rotor-wash of a preceding helicopter, hearing the crackle of small arms fire below, the Grunts are powerless to respond. Swept along by unseen aerodynamic and mechanical forces beyond their control and understanding, they pray for the relative safety of a firefight on solid ground.

2. We verbally rehearsed our plan on the ICS. Strange, but I remember that our voices were calm and steady. None of us had any reservations despite the perils of our task. We had to succeed. Our only fear was the fear of possible failure, the fear of making some dumb mistake, the fear that we might somehow let our fellow Marines down. The Grunts depended on us. They relied on us in a way that no men can understand unless they have endured the volatile crucible of warfare together. We could not - must not - fail them.

3.

Another shower of grenades landed in and around the perimeter. The chilling rattle of AK-47 fire swept over the ridge. The Marines fired back through the thick vegetation and threw grenades down the incline. Most of the Marines were hit now, mainly by grenade fragments. Neither the North Vietnamese nor the Marines could see each other because of the tall and thick elephant grass.

Hopkins and his assistant patrol leader, Staff Sergeant David A. Woodward, each grabbed a handful of grenades. They ran about 20 feet out through the elephant grass, and from there they hurled their high explosive grenades in the direction of the North Vietnamese. Hopkins got hit in the face and in the hand, but both he and Woodward were able to scamper back into the Marine perimeter.

Now the incoming fire intensified, and the Marines fired back. The only sensation was chaos, bedlam, and unceasing crescendos of deafening noise.



4.

The Grunts straggled up behind their assigned helicopters. Here they dropped their gear, their rifles, and sat down on the grass to wait. The Grunts knew full well what lay in store for them that hot Indochinese morning. Dong Ha was near the coast in the flatlands. The coming battle, however, would be fought on terrain that is maddening, worse than any the Marine Corps had ever encountered, worse than Guadalcanal.

The mountains west of Dong Ha are cloaked in 100 foot high jungle canopy. Beneath that dense foliage lies a tangled and nearly impenetrable mass of vines and undergrowth so thick that machetes are needed to hack through it. The jungle vegetation is so dense that at midday it appears almost as dark as at midnight. There would be no breeze to ease the stifling and suffocating heat, no relief from the constant swarms of stinging insects that make days miserable and nights unbearable. The jagged and jungled Cordillera is a wild and uninhabited wilderness. It is spooky beyond mortal belief, a foreign land where demons, trolls, and evil spirits might live and roam the earth.

5. The camaraderie, trust, and loyalty can never be explained to one who has not experienced the unique bond that is shared by Marine Corps helicopter crews in combat. Our bond transcended material possessions, military rank, and social status. We shared a brotherly love, a love that no earthly circumstance can ever shatter. War is a cruel game, a brutal game, a deadly game. I knew that this would be the most intense and utopian experience that I would ever have. Although it now sounds insane, right at that moment I would not have traded places with anyone else on earth.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2005

    Courage, Committment and Honor

    Marion Sturkey has captured the essence of combat from a USMC helicopter pilot's perspective. Very few actions in Vietnam did not involve helicopters, and Sturkey writes about the mundane, the terrorfying, and bizarre missions with dispassion and with clarity, managing to illustrate the courage and fear always present in combat situations. He does this without hyperbole and without self-acclaim. His description of history of the Vietnam conflict is brief but on the money. He focuses mainly on the events that he experienced. Sturkey's writing reflects the esteem in which he holds all combat veterans, especially United States Marines. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in what makes a Marine tick or what it takes to be a combat helicopter pilot, or just to read about the experiences of a Marine helicpter squadron in Vietnam. Pardon the cliche, but this book is spellbinding.

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