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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."
Of the several books that I own of that long-ago war, Zahn's is my new favorite. I'm amazed at the background similarity shared by the aircrews and 'woulda' beens'. I'd signed up for flight school and was well into the program at Fort Wolters when the RIF's hit. Can't complain, I was well treated by the Army, but I've carried a sense of regret at not having gained that Warrant for much of my life. I can live vicariously in that long-ago while enjoying his great re-telling. It is cathartic, I think. And---I am still alive and healthy; a privilege not accorded to about 30% of those noble pilots and gunners who never came home.
The book at about 250 pages is short enough to not be boring. He ain't whining folks. He's telling it like it was. Warrant Officers were in kind of a middle ground in the military. I can see an insecure, jerk of a new junior officer in country being jealous of, or not wanting to take the suggestions from a 20 year old seasoned Cobra pilot, potentially causing deaths. As any war drags on, younger and younger troops are acquired. Remember, in WWII, President #41 was a 19 year old aviator..The flight surgeon was right, he (Zahn) was just a kid.
I'm happy that he lived to tell the tale and a realistic tale it is
Randy is very fortunate in possessing an almost photographic memory, apart from his documented letters & tapes. His recall of individual conversations, events & enemy contacts etc . is profound, & creates an environment of which you feel part thereof.
Randy, unlike many of his friends & colleagues, survived the Vietnam War. As a result, he has provided a permanent record of his remarkable service to America, flying the Cobra Attack Helicopter.
Randy, I sincerely appreciate your military service to your country. Thank you for your commitment in recording the experience.
Took off an Amazon rating star for the lack of Nook availability. If you buy the physical hard copy you should be able to get the electronic addition as a backup without having to purchase another book. Other than that this is a great book and highly recommended.