Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

Phantom Reflections: The Education of an American Fighter Pilot in Vietnam

Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

Phantom Reflections: The Education of an American Fighter Pilot in Vietnam

Article excerpt

Phantom Reflections: The Education of an American Fighter Pilot in Vietnam by Mike McCarthy. Praeger/Greenwood Publishing Group (http:// www.praeger.com), 88 Post Road West, Westport, Connecticut 06881, 2006, 200 pages, $44.95 (hardcover).

Phantom Reflections explains how a conservative young fighter pilot went to Vietnam full of visions of glory and patriotism to fight for a just cause yet, after retiring as an Air Force colonel, came to feel that it was all for naught-a waste. Nevertheless, he says it was the "defining experience" of his life.

Mike McCarthy produces this memoir in a splendid writing style. Born in upstate New York into a physician's family, he got his college education (majoring in business) in Florida, but he claims that he had decided to be a fighter pilot at age 10. McCarthy entered the Air Force and graduated from pilot training at Webb AFB, Texas, as the Vietnam War moved towards its climax. He went through crew training in Florida in the F-4 Phantom, arriving at Ubon, Thailand, as part of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing late in 1967.

McCarthy recounts his eight months at Ubon in some detail, describing the recurring fear of going to North Vietnam and the excitement involved. It certainly was no picnic, and he had several close brushes with death. Yet, through it all he had no doubt that he was engaged in a just war and that he was doing the right thing for his country. …

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