Nicknamed "Mini-Man" for his diminutive stature, a mere five-foot-three and 125 pounds in his flight boots, chopper pilot Ron Alexander proved to be a giant in the eyes of the men he rescued from the jungles and paddies of Vietnam. With an unswerving concern for every American soldier trapped by enemy fire, and a fearlessness that became legendary, Ron Alexander earned enough official praise to become the second most decorated helicopter pilot of the Vietnam era. Yet, for Ron, the real reward came from plucking his fellow soldiers from harm's way, giving them another chance to get home alive.
In Taking Fire, Alexander and acclaimed military writer Charles Sasser transport you right into the cramped cockpit of a Huey on patrol, offering a bird's eye view of the Vietnam conflict. Packed with riveting action and gritty "you-are-there" dialogue, this outstanding book celebrates the everyday heroism of the chopper pilots of Vietnam.
Now a high school math teacher, Alexander tells his Vietnam War story with the help of Sasser (Always a Warrior; etc.) in this combat-heavy memoir. Most army helicopter pilots in the Vietnam War were young, rapidly trained warrant officers. Alexander was an exception. After a year of college, he joined the army in 1964, went Airborne, completed Officer Candidate School and then learned to fly helicopters. He arrived in Vietnam as a lieutenant in 1969 and flew scores of missions with the 1st Cavalry Division. Alexander and Sasser use much obviously reconstructed dialogue, some admittedly "re-created" scenes and a mixture of real and made-up names. They also pepper the narrative with profanity, disparaging terms for Vietnamese and helicopter techno talk, all of which dilutes the book's impact. However, they succeed quite well in evoking the Vietnam War from the point of view of a helicopter pilot who served bravely and with distinction. They also convincingly convey Alexander's changing feelings about the war. While he initially tried to avoid serving in the war, once in Vietnam he "embraced the war" as a fervent anti-Communist patriot. After months of heavy combat, though, Alexander had "second thoughts" about the war. Although he continued to serve honorably, Alexander's main goal in the final months of his Vietnam tour was to come home alive and in one piece. He succeeded. Photos.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I've read a ton of war books and this was the best book I've ever read. It's a real page turner. A lot of nights I couldn't go to sleep without finding out what happened on the mission they were on. I'm grateful for such a great American account of our brave men who fought so valiantly for us. Thank you.
Brings back memories
The book got off to a slow start but quickly became excellent reading. Having served in IV Core, I found it interesting to read about the Cav in I Core. The descriptions of flying and crew teamwork are accurately portrayed in great detail. I think often about the thousands of lives lost as well as the brave crews that saved countless of lives while risking our own. Thanks for sharing this story!
Bill Dean, Apache Troop, 7/1 Air Cav 1968/69
A different angle and approach. The author gives an honest and believable account of his experiences.