In The Freedom Shield by John Falcon, the author has constructed a vivid, highly personal, and structurally sound history of a heroic assault helicopter company's operations in Vietnam at the height of the war. We get to meet a number of highly entertaining characters and, sadly, learn the stories of a number of men who sacrificed all. The prose is, perhaps, a little over-worn with clichés and scattered body parts, but the spirit is present, and the telling of the tale is earnest and straightforward. This book will be of interest to those searching for small-unit histories of the Vietnam War, especially in aviation.
Review by Phil Keith (April 2019)
In war, life has a way of turning on a dime. It is often a small choice that determines who lives and who sacrifices his or her young life. The Vietnam War was no different than any other bloody war. However, for the young guys who lived it, breathed its vigorous stench of rot and mud, the Vietnam War was like no other. In retrospect, life was simple here: turn left, you live: turn right, you die. The Boomerang, Bounty Hunter, and Green Delta aircrews of the 191st Assault Helicopter Company (AHC) had their share of both choices. The Freedom Shield: When We Were Young, We Were There is the collective stories of the 191st AHC. A precious gem lay hidden within their underdog appearance. The unit assembled from a hodgepodge selection of hand-me-down aircraft, used equipment, and overlooked personnel who wanted to make a difference. And they did. Their collective stories define a new breed of soldier: the combat assault-helicopter crewman. The 191st pilots, crews, and support personnel vividly share the visceral details of what it's like to be at war and count on your fellow crew members to survive day in and day out. After years of healing, it has finally become easier for the members of the 191st AHC to tell their stories candidly, and their message is infinitely clear: "The price of freedom is painful."
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Review Genre: Nonfiction—History
Number of Pages: 379