Dustoff by Steve Vermillion

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Author and former Dustoff helicopter pilot, Steve Vermillion, writes from his personal experience the real history of the men who crewed on those unarmed helicopters that made an art out of medical evacuations in combat. "Dustoff" which was the official radio call sign originated in Vietnam for those Army helicopters that picked up the wounded in the combat zone. Most often they came under fire and without guns - could not return any fire. There mission was clear--go in and get the wounded and be damned about everything else. When you read their stories you can see why there are several Dustoff pilots who have been awarded the Medal of Honor. If the truth be known, there could have been dozens more who certainly earned that honor and were never recognized. 

Villmillion tells his story, and that of his unit, with lots of background history on how the unit formed and a lot of insider information. This whole book is a remarkable tale of heroes, death, fellowship and courage. 

I flew in Nam as a crew-chief door-gunner on a Huey - and we had a pair of M-60 machine guns blasting away from the ship as we landed in those hot LZs. The Dustoff crews had a rotary wing and a prayer! Nothing but God and luck prevented most all of them from being killed or wounded. My hat has always been off to them--they are all my heroes! 

The author himself is a decorated pilot with a Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross and a load of other awards. This book is all about those fearless men that flew in that elite company of aviators. I cannot more strongly encourage you to read this history and discover how real men in the worse of times showed so much class and courage. The book is well written and researched and is suitable for mature readers. 

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)

Author's Synopsis
Dustoff is a compliation of stories regarding my experiences flying a US Army unarmed medical evacuation helicopter in Vietnam during 1969. This book has a touch of history on the development of helicopter aeromedical evacuation system but primarily focuses on my experiences as a pilot as well as how we interacted as a crew. One of the stories is nearly a duplicate of one of the night non-secure hoist missions that we recorded using a cassette tape recorder connected into our avionics harness.