The untold story of the most important rescue mission not just of the Vietnam War, but the entire Cold War: one American aviator, who knew our most important secrets, crashed behind enemy lines and risked capture by both the North Vietnamese and the Soviets. One Navy SEAL and his Vietnamese partner had to sneak past them all to save him.
At the height of the Vietnam War, few American airmen are more valuable than Lt. Colonel Gene Hambleton. His memory is filled with highly classified information that the Soviets and North Vietnamese badly want. When Hambleton is shot down in the midst of North Vietnam’s Easter Offensive, US forces place the entire war on hold to save a single man hiding amongst 30,000 enemy troops and tanks. Airborne rescue missions fail, killing eleven Americans. Finally, Navy SEAL Thomas Norris and his Vietnamese guide, Nguyen Van Kiet, volunteer to go after him on foot. Gliding past hundreds of enemy soldiers, it takes them days to reach Hambleton, who, guided toward his rescuers via improvised radio code, is barely alive, deeply malnourished, and hallucinating after eleven days on the run.
In this deeply-researched, untold story, award-winning author Stephan Talty describes the extraordinary mission that led Hambleton to safety. Drawing from dozens of interviews and access to unpublished papers, Saving Bravo is the riveting story of one of the greatest rescue missions in the history of the Special Forces.
Talty (The Black Hand) skillfully and engagingly tells the dramatic story of 12 fateful days in the life of then-52-year-old Air Force navigator Gene Hambleton. After he'd bailed out behind enemy lines in South Vietnam when his plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile, he hid from thousands of North Vietnamese Army troops as unbeknownst to him and his rescuers they launched the massive attack known to Americans as the Easter Offensive in 1972. An "unprecedented" number of personnel were sent to rescue Hambleton 11 died and two were captured and eventually "the only force left with a chance of getting Hambleton out alive was a short, slim, soft-spoken 28-year-old Navy SEAL named Tommy Flipper' Norris and his small team of South Vietnamese sea commandos." Talty's tale is gripping. Along with the derring-do of the rescuers (especially Norris and South Vietnamese commando Nguyen Van Kiet) and Hambleton's almost inhuman ability to survive in the jungle, Talty brings in geopolitical and military strategy issues in this fully realized rescue story that will appeal to those in search of a (mostly) positive event that took place during the Vietnam War. Photos.