Author and former Air Force Captain Larry Fletcher makes you feel you are in the left hand seat flying a behemoth gunship above the green lush jungle when the radio blares “Corpsman, corpsman, heavy mortar and rocket fire”. You realize if you don’t act quickly and precisely “Charlie”, the North Vietnamese soldiers, will continue to kill and keep killing “Corpsman”, the call sign for the U.S. ground troops. You get coordinates and maneuver the AC-119 gunship into a circle over Charlie, then you pound him with 6,000 rounds per minute from each of your four portside miniguns and now you’re “Chasing Charlie”. Charlie soon learns you don’t mess with the “Shadow”, because as Lamont Cranston known as The Shadow in the 1930s movies always said “The Shadow knows” and this behemoth-killing machine, known as “The Shadow Gunship”, indeed knows he can and will chase Charlie away. “Charlie Chasers” takes you on a wild and historic ride, as if you were there, through the Vietnam War telling you a part of its history, little known to most of us. “Charlie Chasers” played a sentinel role in the conduct of the Vietnam War but were a well-hidden asset unknown to many of us, but to Charlie, the Viet Cong, they were one of his biggest fears.
Dr. Fletcher presents a well-written and researched account of the history of the USAF AC-119 “Shadow” gunships and the men who flew on them during their daily 5-hour missions into areas few students of the Vietnam War knew they ventured. As a Shadow pilot, former Air Force Captain Larry Fletcher gives the reader an eyewitness account from the cockpit and follows the gunship crews as they go about their daily chores of chasing Charlie to protect ground troops fighting for the “Republic of Vietnam”. “Charlie Chasers” is a thrilling account of what war was like flying in an American gunship under deadly enemy fire in wily weather conditions. It is a worthy read and an unforgettable account of the AC-119 Gunships in the Vietnam War.