BIG MOTHER 40
The U.S. Navy entered the Vietnam War prepared to fight either a conventional, or God forbid, a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. In the mid-sixties, as the Vietnam war escalated, the U.S. found itself without significant aviation capability to support special operations or combat search and rescue (CSAR). To support SEAL operations in the Mekong Delta, the Navy created a Helicopter Combat Attack Squadron that was eventually split into four squadrons tasked with combat search and rescue and special operations missions. Its call sign was the Sea Devils, but over time, the matte-black Sea King helicopters became known as the "Big Mothers." BIG MOTHER 4O is about the life of a Navy helicopter pilot, a Navy Seal, and their teams performing under extremely hazardous combat conditions and includes the women they loved.
Riveting Life-Threatening Air Rescue Ops in Vietnam Told Amid Shocking Treachery
For a first novel, BIG MOTHER 40 by Marc Liebman is a suspense-driven work, from dynamic plot to fleshed-out characters to crisp dialogue to historic significance to dramatic suspense. Marc Liebman is the new ace in military thrillers. He not only covers a time in history that too many people want to forget, he creates conditions that show the reader the mindsets of all the participants, including the enemy’s, and gains for us a clearer understanding of the greater tragedy of the Vietnam war. The story is based on a U.S. military secret never told before, and Marc Liebman has written his novel as a tribute to those who lost their lives because of traitors who worked undetected betraying U.S. Navy encryption keys to the Soviets from 1968 to 1986. The Soviets could decode every operational message sent to U.S. military units launching air, land or sea attacks in Vietnam and in theaters of war thereafter. If that reality doesn’t shake you up, it should! How many lives were lost as a result of this espionage coup for the Russians? Liebman’s story shows how we prevail even when we are at a disadvantage and part of the reason is because there are always those who work “outside the box” to help us do it.
Liebman’s story is more than a tale about a Navy helicopter rescue pilot, a Navy Seal and their teams performing under perilous hazards in the Vietman war. His characters engage us. He even introduces romance where the heroine is an amputee. But the most outstanding “character “is the rescue helicopter itself: BIG MOTHER 40, the HH-3A, a modified Sea King for combat search and rescue. This helicopter had more lives than a cat and performed under gruelling, near impossible conditions.
Liebman skips macho combat images to plunk us into the deeper connections of war, from fear and courage to the truer realms of human relationships. His detail is authentic, and he lends even greater validity to the operations he describes with valuable author notes at the back of the book including a historic analysis of the time, military glossary and roster of characters. Despite the book’s intensity and detail, the story is fast-paced. For a book you won’t forget, you have to read BIG MOTHER 40.
Reviewed by: Bonnie Toews (2013)