From a Dark Sky: The Story of U. S. Air Force Special Operations

Overview

In From a Dark Sky: The Story of U.S. Air Force Special Operations military affairs specialist Orr Kelly tells for the first time the complete, uncensored history of Air Force special operations: a history that had been up to now shrouded in cover stories, secrecy, and deception. Whether they called themselves Air Commandos, Carpetbaggers, or Ravens, they were the ones called on to do the "impossible" jobs - that other Air Force units couldn't, or wouldn't, do. Whether these missions involved flying behind enemy ...
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Overview

In From a Dark Sky: The Story of U.S. Air Force Special Operations military affairs specialist Orr Kelly tells for the first time the complete, uncensored history of Air Force special operations: a history that had been up to now shrouded in cover stories, secrecy, and deception. Whether they called themselves Air Commandos, Carpetbaggers, or Ravens, they were the ones called on to do the "impossible" jobs - that other Air Force units couldn't, or wouldn't, do. Whether these missions involved flying behind enemy lines or introducing unique new weapons such as the fixed-wing AC-47 gunship or the Pave Low helicopter, the air commandos have been a vital part of America's modern war-waging capability. Kelly describes the action going back to the 1940s when the Army Air Force provided aerial aid to anti-Nazi partisans and successfully extracted scores of downed American pilots. Helicopter insertion of agents into enemy territory during the Korean War, clandestine CIA missions in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, infiltrating intelligence teams during Desert Storm, and current-day operations throughout the world are all included in this exciting and unique history.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The U.S. military has done a generally excellent job of publicizing the glamorous, dangerous and vital work performed by its special forces. The Air Force, however, has maintained relative silence on the exploits, indeed the existence, of its own commando units. This is partly because, traditionally, Air Force special ops teams have been particularly fond of deception and averse to record keeping. Military affairs specialist Kelly (Brave MenDark Waters) has undertaken the laborious task of writing the history of these secretive commandos. Relying on old-fashioned detective work, he has pieced together records and remembrances dating from the 1943-era "Project 9" in Burma to present-day operations. The resulting stories are as bizarre as anything to emerge from the annals of special forcessuch as the 1944 mission to deliver British army mules behind enemy lines in Burma via balsa-wood gliders, or the courageous yet ultimately unnecessary 1975 mission to rescue the crew of the U.S.S. Mayaguez from captivity in Cambodia. But despite many episodes of high jinks and adventure, this isn't a puff book. Kelly records victory as well as defeat, analyzing what has worked and what has not for air commandos. His fine work should be of great interest and usefulness both to casual readers and to uniformed students of special ops. Photos not seen by PW. (Aug.)
Library Journal
For the first time in one volume, Kelly (Never Fight Fair, Presidio, 1995) recounts the story of the USAF Special Operations. He focuses on the little-known "air commandos," as they called themselves during World War II. Special Operations Air involves work behind enemy linesinserting solitary agents and entire units, establishing small airfield bridgeheads, and supplying troops with stores and weapons. Kelly begins with Chindit operations in Burma and support of Resistance members in France and Tito's forces in Yugoslavia and Southern Europe; he then proceeds to little-known Korean engagements and the coming-of-age operations in Vietnam and continues through hostage rescues to Desert Storm and present-day challenges. Kelly's narrative is lively, and his mix of broad overview and personal experience makes for smooth reading. Recommended for public libraries.David Lee Poremba, Detroit P.L.
Roland Green
Kelly does for U.S. Air Force Special Operations what he did for the SEALs in "Brave Men--Dark Waters" (1992) and does it just as well. He starts with his collective hero's early work supplying guerrillas in Burma and occupied Europe during World War II and proceeds to spy-dropping operations in Korea and then to Vietnam. In Vietnam, Air Force Special Operations really came into its own, with defoliation, air rescue, the use of gunships converted from C-47s, C-119s, and C-130s, and support of CIA activities. Since Vietnam, there have been dark moments such as the Iran hostage rescue and brighter ones such as the Panamanian affair and the Gulf War. Kelly relies heavily on interviews, many of them with the enlisted men who rode the rescue probes, loaded the guns, and guided the planes into landings on covert fields. A well-conceived and well-executed, well-deserved tribute to an uncommonly fine body of American warriors.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671009175
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 7/1/1997
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 4.19 (w) x 6.76 (h) x 1.04 (d)

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