3/03/03 This book is the most realistic presentation of combat flying possible,
because it is the straight unvarnished truth from the pens of 155 of the
pilots who flew what many consider to be the toughest mission of the Vietnam
War, that of the Misty Forward Air Controllers, men who saw the war up close
and personal, and who were fired at every day-and hit too often.
The Misty pilots flew the North American F-100 Super Sabre on the Top
Secret Fast-FAC missions over North Vietnam. To Major General Don Shepperd's
credit, he undertook to edit this book with the understanding that all of
the submissions from the Misty pilots would be printed, as written, without
editorial comment or clean-up. The result is an absolutely fascinating
series of stories that are told in pilot's terms of events and missions that
range from the terrifying to the hilarious.
Don Shepperd might easily have had this book published by a New York
Publisher, if he had been willing to soften its edge, delete some of its
stories, and follow a more conventional lay out. Instead, he very wisely
chose to use a modern tool of the trade, 1st Books.com, so that the story of
Misty would be comprehensive, pull no punches, leave no one out, and present
the most graphic picture imaginable. These are all heroes, but these are not
all hero stories, for the candid revelations portray pilots exulting in a
successful mission and pilots absolutely terrified by the hail of flak they
find themselves in.
Readers will be familiar with many of the authors in this book, for they
include famous names such as Henry Buttleman, Bud Day, Ron Fogleman, Merrill
McPeak and Dick Rutan. Their stories are great, but so are the tales of less
famous pilots, who put their lives on the line for fifty missions and more.
Of the 155 Misty pilots, forty-four were shot down either while flying the
Misty mission, or subsequently.
There is no literary artifice in Misty, but there is some damn good writing,
for these stories come straight from the heart of men who flew a tough
mission and saw their friends die in the process. These are heart-thumping
flying stories told by veterans who put as many as eight hours on a mission,
refueling as necessary to keep their thirsty Huns in the air. Often they
would be diverted from their reconnaissance to help with a rescue mission,
keeping contact with a downed pilot until the Jolly Greens arrived, then
staying on to make sure that the rescue was unimpeded.
Part of the fascination of Misty is the candid, realistic pilot language
used to tell the stories. There's no softening here for the script writer,
no making it easier for the squeamish to take. For example, here's an
excerpt from Misty 35, Don Jones, telling about his first mission. Jones was
an RB-57 and RB-66 reconnaissance pilot, and with Jim Mack (Misty 24) was
sent on a search mission for Bob Craner (Misty 17) and Guy Gruters (Misty
29). They had gone missing the previous day, and there had been no beeper or
MAYDAY. He writes:
"After what seemed like an eternity, the radio finally came back with "Hey,
Misty, this is Craner." ...It was soon evident that Craner was captured.
...Jim repeated nearly everything he said. "How about Guy? Give me your
serial number, quick. I read you Babes, I'll see you after the war."
Craner wanted something to happen and suggested a low pass. He wanted the
guard to talk to us and finally he did. ...He clearly said "You can-pick
Jones' tale concludes with this paragraph:
"The end of the first mission was about 5.5 hours in the cockpit, with Jim
getting the extra refueling. We landed at Da Nang for debriefing at Seventh
Air Force request, as everyone was excited about the contact with
Craner-maybe the first time contact was made with a pilot after he was
captured. Up to this point, I was OK in the cockpit-didn't have any thirst,
didn't need a cigarette and didn't have urge to use the relief tube. But
when the canopy opened, I found out I couldn't MOVE. It was like my muscles
had atrophied and I swore that they would need a crane to get me out. As it
turned out, I managed barely to get down the ladder by myself. Older, wiser
The 603 pages of this book are filled with story after story like this, each
one more interesting and more revealing than the last. In creating Misty,
Don Shepperd has presented the warriors war in all its many facets. As a
plus, besides all of the accurate combat language in the book, Shepperd
provides an excellent series of appendices and an indispensable glossary.
Everybody interested in aerial combat should have this book, and the first
step is to get on the line with 1st Books Library, using their toll free
number 1-800-839-8640 or 1-812-339-6000 outside USA and Canada.