Every warfront has its peculiarities and its special demons. In Vietnam, anti-personnel devices in the form of booby traps and mines were used to demoralize and maim the well-armed troops of the United States. Though it should never have become mundane, the term 'traumatic amputation' became commonplace. The adversary learned how to conceal their deadly devices and could set them up with little risk of detection. Medical evacuation helicopters (sometimes called medevac choppers) or were also known as 'Dustoff' ships were the lifeline between a soldier with a severed foot and a top-notch case-hardened facility that could save a man and not be daunted by the severity of his injuries. The crews of Dustoff Huey choppers faced their odds and did their jobs, and, if lucky, returned to their home heliport. Life, pain, lessons, surprises, heartaches did not end there. Sometimes that was a starting point for whatever the Imp had in mind.
Even the experiences in the relatively safe confines of one's home base could be as dangerous to one's mind and spirit as the sound of small arms gunfire could be, when the ship neared the ground. When an uncle, a brother, a cousin or a former boyfriend came back from the war and seemed 'different' this book details some of the kinds of experiences that may have impacted that person and made them act as stunned, as closed mouth, as angry, as paranoid, as untrusting, as indifferent as he did.
There were as many Vietnams as there are Veterans who survived it or appeared to. Every man's experience or his perception and perspective of that experience was different. Many a man came home and had no more to say about his year away than the average child says when a parent asks, 'How was school today?' Don't share, don't say, don't trust, don't tell, don't open up; try to forget it, was the unspoken mantra issuing from that war.
Whether it succeeds or not, this book attempts to honor all who served, to give solemn thanks to those who did not make it back to their families on a visible plane and hopes to provide some small glimpse of the woes, challenges, haunts and demons experienced by one simple guy from Maryland. This pilot had one goal: to be as effective as possible in performing his duties and to help as many people as he could until his Higher Power took away his ability to serve. In that fateful year, he never harmed anyone. He never killed anyone.
Along with the talents, accompaniment and aid of a variety of skilled crew members, some of whom may not have understood him, he saved hundreds of people. Some of them were heading directly towards death as an accelerated rate of speed. That dash was slowed by the swift stick of an IV needle and by the 110 knots of air speed that carried that man or men to a hospital. No one died on my ship in the entire year. I hope that none of the ones just clinging to life when we handed them to the EMT's later succumbed. Yep, I hope that everyone lived and got home and thrived. This is an easy book to read. There are no conscious embellishments. If something was misremembered, that happened despite an enormous effort to get the fact straight in my memory bank. They were always straight in my heart.