Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

Easy Target: The Long, Strange Trip of a Scout Pilot in Vietnam

Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

Easy Target: The Long, Strange Trip of a Scout Pilot in Vietnam

Article excerpt

Easy Target: The Long, Strange Trip of a Scout Pilot in Vietnam by Tom Smith. Presidio Press, SOS B San Marin Drive, Suite 300, Novato, California 94945-1340, 1996, 268 pages, S24.95.

This book is difficult to read for today's military professional. Although its true purpose is to tell the personal story of the author during the Vietnam War, it paints a candid picture of our force during the late 1960s and early 1970s. If ever anyone needed a justification for an all-volunteer force, this book is it.

The author tells his story of evading the draft for a few months only to enlist later to fly Army helicopters. This brief history recounts the author's trip through basic training, into Army helicopter flight school, and on to the jungles of Vietnam. There is perhaps something to be gleaned from this book about how Scout pilots operated during that phase of the war, but the stories of drug use, prostitutes, and AWOL trips to rest and recreation (R&R) areas and Saigon are just as powerful.

Although no one questions the physical courage of the Army Scout pilots of the 1st Cavalry, in which the author served, the characters he describes are far from model soldiers, demonstrating a strange blend of courage and irresponsibility. Perhaps the author intended to emphasize this contrast. The pilots' courage is documented by their fierce pride in the job they did and the risks they took in order to support their fellow servicemen. …

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