We’re pleased to announce that Assault from the Sky: U.S. Marine Corps Helicopter Operations in the Vietnam War is now available!
In this book, author Dick Camp, a former Marine, describes U.S. Marine Corps helicopter operations, actions, andevolution throughout the Vietnam War. Read the prologue to this great book below:
To learn more about this book, we talked to author Dick Camp about his experience with writing and his tour in Vietnam.
Could you tell us a bit about any history of military service in your family? In what ways was the military part of your life from an early age?
My uncles were in the Armed Services in World War II: U.S. Army and U.S. Navy. Uncle Dick Burns was drafted at 26 and served with Patton’s Army during the Battle of the Bulge. Two uncles, Bernard Camp and Wallace Burns joined the CCC prior to the war and then served in the Army and Navy.
My high school coach was a Marine forward observer in Korea. He had a very strong influence on my interest in the Corps. From early age I had a very strong interest in the military, primarily the Marine Corps. I read every book in the school library about the military, primarily World War II.
When and how did you become interested in Military history?
I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t interested in American military history. I loved visiting battlefields and listening to the old timers “sea stories.” My uncle Dick fought in the Battle of the Bulge and I can remember being fascinated by his stories. I loved the World War II series Victory at Sea and even today I like to view it.
How much research did you do for the book?
One of the reasons I moved back east after almost two decades in the mid-west was to be closer to major reference sources…National Archives, college libraries, Gray Research Center aboard the Marine Base at Quantico. I also haunt the internet to find reference material. I believe cyber space has now become a major tool for writers. I have been surprised many times to discover exactly what I wanted on the internet…and there are now many, many archives that are accessible. The Texas Tech Vietnam Archive is a fantastic site for those wishing to write on Vietnam. Most of the after-action and command chronologies have been scanned and are available online.
Why did you decide to write this book? What prompted you to put this story down on paper?
During my tour in Vietnam I experienced first-hand how dependent the Marine Corps was on helicopters. I participated in several helicopter operations that enabled us to leap frog around or behind the enemy…and I was the recipient of logistic support while with the 26th Marines during the Siege of Khe Sand in 1968. I saw and experienced the bravery and dedication of the air crews and I wanted to tell their story.
The idea for the book crystallized when I wrote an article about a reconnaissance team that was badly hurt during an extraction under fire. The team was pretty well shot up when the extraction birds came in to pick them up. The aircrews braved tremendous enemy fire…but never shirked, despite heavy enemy fire. One aircraft was shot down with the loss of its crew while trying to rescue fellow Marines…the story grabbed me! I wanted to expand the topic to book length in order to include other personal accounts of bravery.