BURY US UPSIDE DOWN: The Misty Pilots
and the Secret Battle for the Ho Chi Minh Trail
Rick Newman and Don Shepperd. Presidio, (464p) ISBN 0-345-46537-7
Nearly 40 years ago, the Air Force headquarters in Saigon formed a top-secret unit called Commando Sabre--radio call sign "Misty"--that flew risky, often terrifying missions over North Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh Trail in two-man F-100 jet fighters, scouring the terrain for targets. The Misty pilots had no laser targeting pods or smart bombs or night vision goggles, yet they developed many of the tactics the Air Force still uses today over Iraq, Afghanistan, and other hot spots." For their contribution to aerial warfare, the Mistys paid a price--of 157 pilots who served in the unit, 34 were shot down, some twice. Many were saved in spectacular rescues. Four were captured and imprisoned in Hanoi. Seven were lost and listed as missing, then ultimately declared KIA: killed in action....
| - Portion of article dated 3/06/06 in the US News and World Report |
“This is a true story about real warriors–both those who came home and those who did not–and the legacy they left. The story of the Misty pilots fills a gap in our understanding of the Vietnam War, and reminds armchair tacticians what the true cost of war is, and who pays the price.”
| - review by Joseph Galloway, co-author of We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young |
“Rip that Nintendo out of your kid’s hands and hand him Bury Us Upside Down! This outstanding book will give him insight into what real aerial combat, flown by real heroes, is like. Undoubtedly the best book of its type, Bury Us Upside Down is the truth writ bold and simple–the story of the men who fought the war flying the toughest missions imaginable, and their families. It is a book of heroes, and just reading it gives you insight into what a true hero feels.”
| - review by Walter J. Boyne, former director, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution |
“With its great in-the-cockpit stories of the first jet-fighter combat forward air controllers, Bury Us Upside Down is an incredible account of how it all started. The reader will feel the G forces, the strain of avoiding ground fire, the satisfaction of a completed rescue, the black humor of combat-hardened pilots, and the effects on the families of those who didn’t return. But most of all the reader will feel proud America can produce such men.”
| - review by Mark Berent, author of the Rolling Thunder series |
"This thoroughly readable, absorbing history chronicles the air operations known as Misty (officially called Commando Sabre) along the Ho Chi Minh trail during the Vietnam War. Flying mostly F-100s, the air force pilots acted as FACs (forward air controllers) for strike aircraft, directing them to North Vietnamese supply convoys and other targets along the conduit. Newman, a journalist, and Shepperd, a retired two-star air force general and current CNN commentator, launch their account with the story of Howard K. Williams, a pilot shot down on a Misty mission in 1968 and declared deceased in 1978 (his remains were recovered in 1991). They also bring to life a wide cast of Misty characters, including Williams' long-suffering widow, Monalee, daredevil Jim Fiorelli, hyperconfident pilot Dick Rutan and several airmen who were shot down, captured and tortured. Shepperd, a former Misty pilot, also figures in the story, as does Sen. John McCain, who provides the book's foreword. The courage and skill of the pilots emerges clearly, as does the dubious bureaucratic rationale that subjected their families to nightmarish ordeals. A distinguished addition to Vietnam War aviation literature, the volume raises serious questions about both tactics and politics."
| - review by Publisher's Weekly |
Ordinary People, Extraordinary Heroes
They were real people, young men drawn from all walks of life, eager to test their mettle in a profession where excellence is sometimes considered mediocre---that of an Air Force fighter pilot. They were also the men who volunteered to fly the most demanding mission the Air Force had to offer during the Vietnam War---a super secret operation code-named “Misty.” But the Misty pilots were husbands, fathers and family men as well, and while the story chronicles their daily acts of bravery in rich and exciting detail, it also paints a poignant picture of families that wait, sometimes in vain, for them to return. It is that well balanced duality of soaring heroism and enduring pain that makes this book so special. But be forewarned---this is not a book to browse or skim. If you open the cover, you will read it all---every page of it. It’s that kind of book!"
| - review by Ron Standerfer, Former Misty and the author of The Eagle’s Last Flight |
Click HERE for reviews by both pilots and non-pilots who have read "BUUD".
Book release date: 28 February 2006.
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Webpage initiated on 25 October 2005
Last update: 10 October 2007
Website originated and maintained by Misty 128.