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

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

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by Tom Marshall
     
 

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"The risk of a fatal catastrophe was constant. The NVA was the enemy, but the ultimate opponent was, quite simply, death. . . ."

For assault helicopter crews flying in and around the NVA-infested DMZ, the U.S. pullout from Vietnam in 1970-71 was a desperate time of selfless courage. Now former army warrant officer Tom Marshall of the Phoenix, C Company, 158th…  See more details below

Overview

"The risk of a fatal catastrophe was constant. The NVA was the enemy, but the ultimate opponent was, quite simply, death. . . ."

For assault helicopter crews flying in and around the NVA-infested DMZ, the U.S. pullout from Vietnam in 1970-71 was a desperate time of selfless courage. Now former army warrant officer Tom Marshall of the Phoenix, C Company, 158th Aviation Battalion, 101st Airborne, captures the deadly mountain terrain, the long hours flown under enormous stress, the grim determination of hardened pilots combat-assaulting through walls of antiaircraft fire, the pickups amid exploding mortar shells and hails of AK fire, the nerve-racking string extractions of SOG teams from North Vietnam. . . . And, through it all, the rising tension as helicopter pilots and crews are lost at an accelerating pace.

It is no coincidence that the Phoenix was one of the most highly decorated assault helicopter units in I Corps. For as the American departure accelerated and the enemy added new, more powerful antiaircraft weapons, the helicopter pilots, crew chiefs, and gunners paid the heavy price of withdrawal in blood. For more than 30 Percent of Tom Marshall's 130 helicopter-school classmates, the price of exit was their lives. . . .


From the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307758125
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/10/2011
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
171,642
File size:
4 MB

Meet the Author

Tom Marshall enlisted in the United States Army in the Warrant Officer Rotary Wing Pilot course in 1969. During his one-year tour in Vietnam, he received the Bronze Star for meritorious service after two months of action with the 4th Infantry Division at An Khe, where he flew OH-58s for 1st Brigade, Headquarters Company. He was next assigned to the Phoenix, C Company, 158th Aviation Battalion, before transferring to the 163rd Aviation company at Camp Eagle to fly Hueys and Loaches. At the end of his twelve-month tour, he had accumulated 1,087 hours of combat flying time.

When he returned to the World in 1971, he served as an instructor pilot at Fort Rucker, Alabama, in OH-58 Kiowas, where he transitioned former air force jet pilots into helicopter pilots. He also instructed army fixed-wing aviators and foreign officers. He used his G.I. benefits to obtain a commercial multiengine-instrument airplane rating.

He lives in Pensacola, Florida.


From the Paperback edition.

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Price of Exit 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Bernie-Weisz More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well documented thoughtful account
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.