Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

The Rescue of Bat 21

Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

The Rescue of Bat 21

Article excerpt

The Rescue of Bat 21 by Darrel D. Whitcomb. Naval Institute Press, 118 Maryland Avenue, Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5035, 1998, 1% pages, $27.95.

It's about time someone set the record straight. Darrel D. Whitcomb does it concisely in this powerful tragedy from the American experience in Vietnam. An introduction by Col Harry G. Summers Jr. advises that the book offers lessons that we ignore at our peril.

Bat 21B is the call sign of an EB-66 navigator Iceal "Gene" Hambleton, who is slammed by an SA-2 missile just south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in 1972. The plot thickens when he must parachute into the middle of a vast North Vietnamese Army (NVA) invasion of the south. Search and rescue (SAR) missions launch into an area where the NVA has brought sufficient antiaircraft weaponry to contest American air superiority. Eleven brave men die, and two more survivors enter the problem. The author details the falls of Mike 81, Blueghost 39, Nail 38, Blueghost 28, Jolly Green 67, and Covey 282. A previous book by William C. Anderson and a movie starring Gene Hackman focused on the 12-day evasion ordeal of Hambleton. Whitcomb's effort brings the full story home with the stark power of what actually happened.

Reading The Rescue of Bat 21 is like standing near a thundering freight train. …

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