Mark Berent Rolling Thunder is an historical novel about the decisive role politics played during the Vietnam War. Its characters range from men in the field to the Pentagon and the White House. Fighter pilots and Special Forces warriors try to do their best but are hampered by President Johnson, Secretary of Defense McNamara, and their staff members who despise the military. Only one aging USAF general, who fought in Korea and WWII, is on their side. His clashes with his Commander in Chief, Lyndon Johnson, are epic in proportion and startling in content.
In Rolling Thunder, the time is late 1965 and 1966 in war zone places such as Saigon, Hanoi, Bien Hoa, Da Nang, and Tahkli. While back in Washington, LBJ sits over lunch and personally picks bombing targets in an attempt to fight a limited war. In Vietnam the war knows no limits.
There, as the hostilities escalate, the fates of three men intertwine: USAF Captain Court Bannister, overshadowed by a famous movie star father who fought in WWII as a B-17 gunner, driven to confront missiles, MiGs, and nerve-grinding bombing raids in order to prove his worth to his comrades -- and to himself...Air Force First Lieutenant Toby Parker, fresh from the States, who hooks up with an intelligence unit for a lark, and quickly finds his innocence buried away by the lessons of war...and Special Forces Colonel Wolf Lochert, who ventures deep into the jungle to rescue a downed pilot -- only to discover a face of the enemy for which he is unprepared.
Four airline stewardesses, who fly the civilian MAC contract flights that bring American soldiers to and from the war zone in Vietnam, have difficult love affairs with G.I.s and fighter pilots. After one flight they come under attack while on an airbase in Vietnam.
Young American G.I.s are cursed and taunted as they return to the United States.
Through their eyes, and those of many others -- pilots, soldiers, lovers, enemy agents, commanders, politicians, profiteers -- Rolling Thunder shows us Vietnam as few other books have, or can. Berent captures all the intensity and drama of that searing war, and more, penetrates to the heart and soul of those who fought it. Rolling Thunder rings with authenticity
Mark Berent The weather, the built-in hazards of night refueling, target identification, and the mountains hiding in the dark are all enemies- and of course, there's the enemy, too. These pilots have a saying, "And if the big guns don't get you, the black karst will." But then back on top in the moonlight, a man finds brief moments to think his own thoughts before cracking a low ceiling back at home base.
Mark Berent As the Vietnam war interdiction campaign spread to North Vietnam, Laos, and eventually Cambodia, the slow moving FACs in their small prop planes began to encounter intense ground fire. It was then, in 1967, that the jet FACs began to take over in high threat areas. A former commander of the famed 8th Tac Fighter Wing Wolf FACs poignantly reminisces about these men and the mission.
Mark Berent Mark Berent is a well-known author of many Vietnam airwar books and articles. In this article he recounts the people and events that motivated him to write. As he says: "They're out there now, somewhere beyond our eyes, beyond the clouds, rolling and soaring in towering cathedrals flying beautiful airplanes that need only the fuel of their love. These are the men I honor...
Mark Berent This is a hilarious tale of an Air Force combat fighter pilot in Vietnam who goes out on patrol with a special forces team he has supported many times from the air. Seeing the pilot is having a hard time keeping up, one of the Chinese mercenaries called Nungs, says to the team leader, "Let's kill the Dai Uy." Dai Uy is Vietnamese for captain.Read on to see what happened.
Mark Berent Five months after we left them in Rolling Thunder, Steel Tiger brings back USAF Major Court Bannister, Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel Wolf Lochert, and USAF First Lieutenant Toby Parker, now scattered to their new posts: Bannister in Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in California, Wolf Lochert at Lang Tri, Republic of Vietnam, carrying out covert operations in Laos, and Toby Parker, in the pilot training program at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas where he has a severe alcohol problem. Soon their diverse paths will lead all three men back to Vietnam for a second tour of duty -- in the very heart of the conflict. Having given up his astronaut's slot stateside, Court Bannister teams up with Major "Flak" Apple fighting enemy aircraft in the skies and politics on the ground. Wolf Lochert, thrown into the infamous Long Binh Jail for murder, makes a contract who puts him on the trail of a weapons smuggling ring and leads him to a figure high in the American chain of command. Toby Parker, still reeling from the trauma of his first tour of duty, pulls himself into shape, only to meet a danger for which he cannot prepare. And, Berent introduces a memorable new character, Vladimir Chernov, a Soviet fighter pilot in Hanoi, who may or may not be the real enemy. Here, Berent provides keen insight into the Hanoi air defense system that blasted over 1300 U.S. Airplanes out of the air. As a harrassed Lyndon Johnson fires his Secretary of Defense, the Chiefs of Staff stop just short of mass resignation, and General Whitey Whisenand once again goes to Vietnam to dig out the truth.
Mark Berent In Storm Flight, the intense conclusion to Berent’s Wings of War saga, the action is touched off by a daring raid on the Son Tay prisoner-of-war camp that reveals some startling information. With American prisoners in terrible jeopardy and crucial national secrets in danger of being discovered, the characters we have met in Berent's earlier books are put to the ultimate test. They must call upon all their skill, leadership, guts, and strength to complete their missions.
As always, Berent highlights his knowledge of little known facts about the war, and his keen insight into the minds of members of the fighting forces. In one exhilarating sequence, Parker and his instructor pilot Ken Tanaka each shoot down two MiGs in the course of one fight, involving four MiGs and an unarmed transport. Despite the chewing out that they receive later from their superior officer, the two fighter pilots refuse to shoot down the transport. Ironically, that decision was the one that saved the life of one of their strongest critics, Jane Fonda, who had once called fighter pilots "professional killers." (This incident is based on a true story.) Parker later makes "Ace," a title given to the rare fighter pilot who shoots down five MiGs.
Dedicated pilot, Lt. Col. Court Bannister, his uncle, the seasoned Major General "Whitey" Whisenand, and tough-as-nails Lt. Col. Wolf Lochert, all play key roles in the sensitive operation Storm Flight. With the information from the Son Tay raid, and coded signals from the brave Major "Flak" Apple, who is a tortured inmate at Hoa Lo Prison (the "Hanoi Hilton"), the men learn that the Russians are separating prisoners with highly classified tactical and technical knowledge for special interrogation. Their task in Storm Flight is to learn just where these particular prisoners are being held and what is planned for them.
The characters fight their own private battles as well: Court strives to overcome his loss of Susan Doyle while trying to get back into combat after his banishment from fighters into heavy bombers for vengefully tearing down a Viet Cong flag at a Washington protest rally; Captain Toby Parker, while proving he can stay sober, has to look deep inside himself to see if he truly is a dedicated Air Force Officer and fighter pilot; and Special Forces Colonel Wolf Lochert has to suppress his fierce desire for immediate action and play abhorrent political waiting games in order to ram through his bold plan for a POW rescue.
Storm Flight is a true tour de force in the military field. Berent expertly outlines the incredible obstacles that American flyers faced trying to win an unpopular war while simultaneously forbidden to strike targets vital to success, as, back home, politicians from both sides traded clichés that influenced the lives of millions. Storm Flight is indeed much more than a combat narration.
Mark Berent Until the day a friendly FAC presented us combat pilots with a mascot, all any of us knew about snakes was that they were slimy creatures that could poison you, eat you, twist your bones, or crush you at their leisure. But that was before we came to know and love our squadron's resident reptile, whose name was ... RAMROD
Mark Berent It is with good reason that Mark Berent has consistently received this kind of praise. Berent, himself a highly decorated pilot, has seen his share of action, having served in the Air Force for more than twenty years and survived three tours of Vietnam. In his three previous novels, all a part of the continuing saga that Kirkus Reviews has called "one of the best of the Vietnam experience with vivid intensity. Berent's remarkable storytelling places the reader directly into the heat of the battle, dodging missiles in the sky and countering blows in hand-to-hand combat. As Tom Clancy says, "Berent is the real thing." In Eagle Station, the fourth installment in his Vietnam War series, Berent puts on the heat and raises the stakes, creating his most electrifying tale of war to date. Beginning with a hair-raising cliffside helicopter rescue under heavy fire, and racing toward a climactic ground battle played out in the dark of night, engaging top secret USAF first special operations AC-130 Spectre gunships, Eagle Station is filled with adventure and acts of daring, woven into a compelling and powerful plot.
United States Air Force Academy (Provisional) Lowry Air Force Base, Denver, Colorado
Three Young Cadets, Kenichi Tanaka, Joe Kelly, and Manuel "Little Cat' Dominguez, all subjected to the cruel hazing of an arrogant and vengeful upperclassman, band together in a show of unity and strength. Years later, this solemn oath of brotherhood will hold them together, and be severely tested, during cataclysmic events in Vietnam.
Eagle Station at Lima Site 85 Royalty of Laos
Located only 24 kilometers from the North Vietnamese border, in supposedly neutral Laos, Eagle Station is one of the most strategically located and important American radar installations, particularly for the fighter pilots and air rescue squadrons attempting to navigate the North Vietnam skies. When an explosion cuts off radio contact with the site, botching a life-or-death aerial rescue, it becomes clear that some unknown predatory group has set its sights on capturing Eagle Station. But who? Is it the communist Pathet Lao or the North Vietnamese? Or could it be the Soviets' elite Spetsnaz teams?
Returning from Berent's earlier novels, USAF Major Court Bannister and Special Forces Colonel Wolf Lochert join forces, agreeing to prepare the station for the imminent attack, not realizing that ultimately the primary defense will rest solely in their hands.
Oval Office, The White House - Washington, DC
Days before the November 1968 presidential election, President Lyndon Baines Johnson, hoping to steer the vote in favor of Humphrey, prepares to make a major announcement concerning the war. General "Whitey" Whisenand, recognizing the possible devastating consequences of Johnson's move, tries to dissuade the President, but to no avail. When his efforts fail, Whisenand sets in motion his own daring plan.
Hanoi City Hospital, Democratic Republic of Vietnam
USAF Major Algernon A. "Flak" Apple, the first black pilot ever shot down over North Vietnam and captured, lies bruised and unconscious in a hospital bed. After his attempt to escape from the "Hanoi Hilton," Hoa Lo Prison, was thwarted, he had been mercilessly tortured, almost to death, before being sent to the Hanoi City Hospital. But his captors are not yet done with him. Using psychological trickery, they attempt to "condition" him, preparing him for a role in "Valiant Struggle," a top-secret plan that, if successful, could shift public opinion in favor or the communists.
As these unforgettable characters are drawn closer together, as the clock ticks faster and the tension mounts, everything coalesces in a heart-stopping climax. In the skies and on the ground, the siege on Eagle Station is about to begin. And through Mark Berent's descriptive powers, readers will take their places alongside Court Bannister and Wolf Lochert, on a death-defying mission into the heart of the Vietnam War.
Mark Berent Combat fighter pilot Mark Berent writes of a dragon-shaped karst mountain in Laos along the Ho Chi Minh Trail that bristles with physical and psychological danger. He writes of it as he first saw it on an F-4 FAC mission from Ubon RTAFB in 1969. Then he adds an excerpt from "Phantom Leader," one of his historical fiction books about war and politics in the Vietnam era.
Mark Berent Mark Berent’s first two novels of three extraordinary men in the midst of the Vietnam conflict, Rolling Thunder and Steel Tiger, met with widespread critical acclaim. The New York Times Book Review called Rolling Thunder an “unusually arresting book” and named it one of its “Notable Books’ of 1989. The Washington Post Book World praised Steel Tiger as “a real tour de force,” calling Berent “an experienced warrior who can artfully spin gripping, compelling tales of his craft.” In Phantom Leader Berent, himself a highly decorated Air Force Pilot, once again captures the intensity of the most controversial war in modern history. Phantom Leader shows readers exactly what it was like to be a pilot caught between the immediate reality of death and the distant decisions of Washington. It is January, 1968, and with the fury of the Tet offensive about to burst, Berent’s courageous men find themselves at the very heart of the Vietnam War. As the Viet Cong attack in full force all over Vietnam, FAC pilot Toby Parker sees the North Vietnamese moving PT-76 tanks down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, but his attempt to acquire proof fails. Captured by the enemy, Parker finds himself trapped square in the middle of the tank attack on the Long Tri; Major “Flak” Apple, the first black Air Force Fighter to be shot down in Vietnam, becomes a prisoner in Hanoi’s infamous Hoa Lo Prison; USAF Major Court Bannister needs only one more shootdown to become an Ace but violations of the Rules of Engagement over North Vietnam force him to fly secret night missions over Laos, Bannister must make a decision that could make him Vietnam’s first Ace – or end his military career forever. Special Forces Colonel Wolf Lochert settles accounts with an old enemy, only to meet an enemy he cannot defeat in battle; and General “Whitey” Whisenand stretches to protect the troops in the field while fighting a rear-guard action in Washington. Both politics and inter-service rivalries add to the chaos at the front lines in Phantom Leader. Berent, drawing on his own experience as an Air Force fighter pilot, is able to translate the complexities of war into an enthralling action-adventure. Phantom Leader brings us the reality of war through the authentic voices of those who fought in Vietnam – this story is a lasting tribute to every American who served his country in Vietnam. --“Berent remains without peer in the battle zone.” Publishers weekly --“This is Berent’s best work yet.Phantom Leader is loaded with exceptionally vivid combat action.” Richmond News Leade
Mark Berent In January of 1973 we in Defense Attaché Office in the American Embassy, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, found ourselves in an unusual situation. In Vietnam, all US forces were ordered to cease fighting and that included air assets as well as the ground troops. Yet we had authorized air support until August 15. This article is about what occurred during that time.
Mark Berent We were college freshmen who built a stockcar and raced it on flat dirt tracks. We had no training, no introduction or safety briefs. We learned the hard way how it was in the Minnesota Stock Car Racing Association in those early days. What does Pretty Don’t Win suggest? Not what you think. Read on.
Mark Berent This is the Vietnamese version of a hilarious tale of an Air Force combat fighter pilot in Vietnam who goes out on patrol with a special forces team he has supported many times from the air. Seeing the pilot is having a hard time keeping up, one of the Chinese mercenaries called Nungs, says to the team leader, "Let's kill the Dai Uy." Dai Uy is Vietnamese for captain.Read on to see what happened.