FAC History Book.
This CD is a wonderful substitute for a book--and somewhat cheaper as well, given the amount of content included. It was developed by the Forward Air Controllers (FAC) Association with their members in mind. That does not, however, preclude anyone with an interest in the air war in Vietnam from buying the disc and learning more about the less well-known part of the war. Many books have been written about the F-105s and F-4s up north, but this fills in a great deal of the history of the war from the perspective of the fliers in the small FAC aircraft.
FACs were in Vietnam from the beginning of the U.S. involvement until the end--1961 through 1973. Over 4,000 pilots served under call signs such as Ravens, Vipers, Sundogs, and Rustics during those twelve years; and more than 200 paid the ultimate price. Five Tactical Air Support Squadrons (TASS) operated throughout Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, flying nothing more substantial than the widely used Cessna 0-1, Cessna 0-2, and North American OV-10 aircraft, and smaller numbers of Pilatus Porters, Cessna U-17s, and North American T-28s. The real beauty of this CD is that it is comprised solely of stories written by many of the men who flew the diverse FAC mission in these aircraft.
The CD is organized into ten sections along with a number of other items that would serve as appendices in a book. A convenient pull-out menu makes it easy to navigate through the material. Inside each of the stories, where required, are highlighted words that lead to maps or pictures. Through the menu, all of the pictures, maps, and other ancillary data are available at any time.
The first section deals with ancestry--the advent of the FAC from the Civil War (the balloon observers used by both sides) through World War II and Korea. "Butterflies and Ravens," the second section, deals with the war in Laos (a non-existent war) where the Air Commando enlisted "Butterfly" controllers were later replaced by the officer FAC "Ravens." The next five sections deal with one of the TASS units, 19th-23d. Each of these starts off with an overview of the unit and its history which is then followed by a number of first-person accounts of various operations (for example, there are 64 of these under 19th TASS).
"Gene Brothers," Section 8, deals with the FACs who were lost during the war. "Legacy" has four stories of the changing world of the FAC since the fall of Saigon. The final section, "Propwash," contains a glossary, list of FACs who became general officers, FAC poems, trivia, and songs (with appropriate camouflage for the more colorful terms, and a call-sign directory.
The only complaint I have with this otherwise excellent CD is the same one found with many websites: the backgrounds used (lots of clouds and flag banners) really makes some of the text difficult to read. Yellow lettering on clouds just doesn't cut it! Other than that, however, this is a good buy that contains some really rip-roaring tales and superb history.
Col. Scott A. Willey, USAF (Ret.), NASM Docent and Volunteer