Snake Pilot: Flying The Cobra Attack Helicopter In Vietnam (英語) ペーパーバック – 2005/10/6
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Based on audiotapes he recorded during the war and sent home to his family, Randy Zahn's "Snake Pilot" recounts his experiences flying AH-1 Cobra helicopters during the Vietnam War. First deployed in Vietnam in 1967 and loaded with a formidable arsenal of weaponry, the Cobra was the first helicopter designed from inception as an attack aircraft. It dramatically changed the nature of the war in Vietnam by offering the Army, for the first time, its own powerful and highly accurate weapons platform for close-air-support missions. Randy Zahn arrived in Vietnam shortly before the 1970 U.S. invasion of Cambodia, one of the most impressive demonstrations by the Cobra in the war. He describes his stunning transformation from a naive, middle-class teenager from southern California to a hardened killer during his tour in Vietnam. Unlike the pilots who flew the fast-moving strike jets, Zahn experienced the war "up close and personal," witnessing the grisly effects of the Cobra's firepower on enemy soldiers. The author does not glorify killing but rather explains in sharp relief the kaleidoscope of emotions associated with combat: fear, revenge, hate, remorse, pity, and even ecstasy. He captures many of the ironies and nuances inherent in Vietnam, especially during the final years of the conflict. Zahn displays a sensitivity rarely found in memoirs written by battle-hardened warriors. This human element, combined with the vast amount of archival research and interviews with members of his former unit, ensures that "Snake Pilot" will become the definitive account of the role helicopters played in Vietnam.
"[Zahn] writes with authority . . . he captures the intensity of moments long since buried in the memories of those who lived them. . . . He has produced a book that is not so much a memoir of events past as a freshly discovered live report from the past. . . . It has lessons to teach the 'battle captains' of today. . . . The glimpse it offers of leaders-as-seen-by-the-led should be of value to anyone who leads the smart, aggressive, competent, self-asured young Mr. Zauns of today."
"Zahn reconstructed his year of combat in Vietnam with surprising detail, capturing the cockiness, angst, and attitude of the naive nineteen-year-old 1st Cavalry Division attack helicopter pilot of 1970 and 1971. . . . I recommend it to those interested in Army aviation, the Vietnam War, and leadership of aviation units."
"Zahn has shared the ups, downs, and horrors of a year in the life of a nineteen-year-old Cobra gunship pilot with the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry in Vietnam. "Snake Pilot" is a real keeper. I couldn't put it down."
"'You're just a kid, ' the flight surgeon said. And he was right. Randy Zahn was just nineteen years old when he served as an AH-1 pilot in 1/9 Cav in 1970-71. Low and slow, up close and personal, he saw war from the steamy cockpit of a Cobra gunship. Through the sweat, blood, and tears of far too many missions, he learned that war is about men and what it does to them. 'We've established bonds that are stronger than blood, ' he wrote. Exactly right, and Randy tells it well. Cleared hot."
""Snake Pilot" puts you in the seat of one of the most awesome weapons of the Vietnam War: the Huey Cobra gunship. In short, [Zahn's] book chronicles the AH-1 at its point of maximum impact. It also is a telling tale of modern war: a story of how a naive middle-class kid from the suburbs is transformed by the pathos of war. This is the best memoir to date on the air war in Vietnam."
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In spite of this, Randy has completed the impossible task: He has documented the details correctly, and has also caught the tone, captured the frustration, and has put into writing what it was like to be a very young cobra pilot in Charlie Troop, 1/9 Cav.
This is personal. This is a personal account; with all of the personal feelings and interactions that one is expected to have in combat. He has not blown his personal, the troop's, nor the 9th Cav's exploits out-of-proportion (like another author has), and has tried his best to describe the unit as it was.... a great Troop in the highly recognized 9th Cavalry, "doing it all like it was supposed to be done" in Nam. As such, the good and the not so good are both reported as fairly as any human being in combat can. When you are done reading his excellent book, you will no doubt have assimilated his personal feelings for what it was like to be a "Snake Pilot."
Charlie Troop, 1/9 Cav
However I have the great opportunity to work with Randy and was thrilled to learn he was writing a book. When he told me about the letters and tapes his parents saved and what the book was about, I knew I had to read it.
"Snake Pilot" is a brilliant telling of what went on day-in and day-out in Randy's world while he was in Vietnam. The book is written in Randy's own words and many times I felt as though he was sitting next to me telling the story. The language easily lets you imagine what it must have been like and while the pictures in my mind can't compare to anything Randy and his comrades endured, I could see the cities, hooches, aircraft maneuvers and what it must have been like to fly over the jungle....I could also imagine what his buddies must have been like and the bonds they formed.
I can honestly say that I laughed, cried, shook my head in disbelief and cursed my way through the book. Of course, there is a waiting line in my family to read the book...so I couldn't give anything away even when I wanted to say, "listen to this!" I plan on buying this book for several people in my family who are history buffs. This gave me an amazing insight to the war in Vietnam and the adversity our soldiers faced.
Don't worry if you aren't a military buff, there is a wonderful glossary that I had to refer to time and time again. That was a genius idea!
Thank you Randy, for this glimpse into history. And although I wasn't here at the time...thank you.
PFC Frazier, Jason J
21 M.P. (ABN)