Author: Jeff Noecker
Publisher: iUniverse (2011)
Binding: Paperback, 180 pages
This is the story of a young man from Pennsylvania who enlists in the U.S. Air Force at age 19. After three years of essential but otherwise boring duty, he is accepted into the AC-130 gunship pprogram and is assigned to a special operations unit in Southeast Asia. This book is written in a memoir format and details the duties and missions of this young man and his contemporaries as they attack supply convoys while flying at low altitude along the notorious Ho Chi Minh Trail. The story relates the good with the bad and has a special section dedicated to the "urban legends" of the time.
"Callsign: Spectre" is about the author's experiences in the military. Jeff Noecker wanted to be a mechanic but ultimately became part of the gun crew of an AC-130 during the Vietnam War. He was one of the people who worked in the back to keep the guns going. His primary job was lookout. He was assigned to Thailand and patrolled the Ho Chi Minh Trail starting in the spring of 1971.
Appropriately, the cover has a picture of the plane flying at night shooting out the left side, down at the ground, with artillery exploding around it. The artist's rendition will draw in all those who functioned in similar circumstances during the Vietnam War.
Noecker's description of survival school in the PI brought back great memories for me. I also enjoyed reading about their missions which were similar to others I had heard about myself while in country. In one of the more exciting narratives, they did get hit once but managed to get their airplane back. However, it was severely damaged. Miraculously, no one on the plane was wounded.
The book is well-written and beautifully published. Vietnam veterans of the era and historians will enjoy this piece.
Reviewed by: Buddy Cox (2012)