“The accounts are chilling, humorous, startling and sincere.”
— Guy (“Indy”) Jones, Author of “Comfortably Numb”
CoverNov02 “most realistic presentation of combat flying possible.”
— Walter J. Boyne, noted Air Force historian and curator
“It is the best book I have read in a long, long time.”
— Tom Colvin, Colonel, USAF (Ret)
“Reading MISTY is like being there.”
— J.D. Wetterling, author of “Son of Thunder”
“I can’t remember when a book captured me like MISTY did!”
— “Silver” Bulat, Fighter Pilot
“My wife bought me “MISTY” for Christmas.  Wow, what a book.  Hard to put down.” — Bob Pruiksma, former AF crew chief “Just finished reading MISTY …outstanding job of putting the story together and telling it well.” — Tom Farrell
1/22/03   I know Gen Shepperd from his work on CNN, but now I know so much more about how he got to where he is today.  What a wonderful collection of first hand stories — a living history of some of the bravest pilots in the Vietnam War.  These true heroes are often overlooked, but when you look at who they were, and where they went after the war, some of our most notable leaders came from within their ranks.  The accounts are chilling, humorous, startling and sincere.  What was it really like to fly and fight in combat over Vietnam?  Read these priceless stories and not only will you know, but like me, you will have a new admiration for a generation of pilots who quietly went about doing the job their country asked them to do.  These true patriots, these true Americans, deserve to have their stories read.  I highly recommend this book to all who care to read and know the truth about real heroes.
– review by Guy (“Indy”) Jones, Author of Comfortably Numb

3/01/03     WARNING: DO NOT READ THIS BOOK if you can’t afford to lose a night’s sleep.  It’s been 34 years since I came home from 268 combat missions in an F-100 in South Vietnam and Laos.  Like 99% of Vietnam vets, I proudly served, put it behind me and life has been grand.  Then I bought MISTY.  Now it’s way past my bedtime, my alarmed wife says I look like a deer in the headlights and wants to know if she should call 911.  If that sounds like hyperbole, then you’ve never experienced the terror and ecstasy of being shot and missed.

I know many of the Misty’s, some very well, and at one time I intimately knew that F-100 they flew.  And for the last several hours I have been back in that cramped cockpit.  I’ve seen the dim red glow of the instrument panel, heard the muffled whine of spinning turbine blades deep in her belly, and smelled that aromatic combination of burnt hydraulic fluid and stale sweat.  And I’m wound tighter than a two-dollar hack watch. Reading MISTY is like being there.

The Vietnam War’s Commando Sabre operation, callsign MISTY, was a volunteer mission with knee-knocking loss rates.  MISTY will grab you by the whatever it was we used to say and not let go, till your face hits the page in exhaustion.  It’s six-dozen first person accounts of heroes who literally jinked in the crosshairs of enemy weapons systems 4-5 hours or more every mission.  Vietnam was before smart bombs and stand off weapons, where the airborne hunter had to get down in the weeds to shoot the bear, and sometimes he got the bear and sometimes the bear got him.  Misty’s spent 90% of their mission in the weeds, and found targets where the rest of us saw only elephant grass.

In this age when revisionist history is high fashion, read the truth in the heroes’ own words while it can still be found.

I had the great honor to speak at a Misty reunion a few years ago. I think (and God is my witness) it was the greatest concentration of heroes in the flesh ever assembled to break bread, with the possible exception of those endless, excruciating nights when Medal-of-Honor winner, Bud Day (Misty 1) dined alone in his POW cell.  Read their stories and you will know why America is the longest running experiment in freedom in the history of mankind.  And you’ll give thanks to God that you were born in the same country they were.

– review by J.D. Wetterling, Author of Son of Thunder

3/03/03   This book is the most realistic presentation of combat flying possible, because it is the straight unvarnished truth from the pens of 155 of the pilots who flew what many consider to be the toughest mission of the Vietnam War, that of the Misty Forward Air Controllers, men who saw the war up close and personal, and who were fired at every day-and hit too often.  The Misty pilots flew the North American F-100 Super Sabre on the Top Secret Fast-FAC missions over North Vietnam.  To Major General Don Shepperd’s credit, he undertook to edit this book with the understanding that all of the submissions from the Misty pilots would be printed, as written, without editorial comment or clean-up.  The result is an absolutely fascinating series of stories that are told in pilot’s terms of events and missions that range from the terrifying to the hilarious.

Don Shepperd might easily have had this book published by a New York Publisher, if he had been willing to soften its edge, delete some of its stories, and follow a more conventional lay out.  Instead, he very wisely chose to use a modern tool of the trade, 1st Books.com, so that the story of Misty would be comprehensive, pull no punches, leave no one out, and present the most graphic picture imaginable.  These are all heroes, but these are not all hero stories, for the candid revelations portray pilots exulting in a successful mission and pilots absolutely terrified by the hail of flak they find themselves in.

Readers will be familiar with many of the authors in this book, for they include famous names such as Henry Buttleman, Bud Day, Ron Fogleman, Merrill McPeak and Dick Rutan.  Their stories are great, but so are the tales of less famous pilots, who put their lives on the line for fifty missions and more.  Of the 155 Misty pilots, forty-four were shot down either while flying the Misty mission, or subsequently.

There is no literary artifice in Misty, but there is some damn good writing, for these stories come straight from the heart of men who flew a tough mission and saw their friends die in the process.  These are heart-thumping flying stories told by veterans who put as many as eight hours on a mission, refueling as necessary to keep their thirsty Huns in the air.  Often they would be diverted from their reconnaissance to help with a rescue mission, keeping contact with a downed pilot until the Jolly Greens arrived, then staying on to make sure that the rescue was unimpeded.

Part of the fascination of Misty is the candid, realistic pilot language used to tell the stories.  There’s no softening here for the script writer, no making it easier for the squeamish to take.  For example, here’s an excerpt from Misty 35, Don Jones, telling about his first mission.  Jones was an RB-57 and RB-66 reconnaissance pilot, and with Jim Mack (Misty 24) was sent on a search mission for Bob Craner (Misty 17) and Guy Gruters (Misty 29).  They had gone missing the previous day, and there had been no beeper or MAYDAY. He writes:

“After what seemed like an eternity, the radio finally came back with “Hey, Misty, this is Craner.” …It was soon evident that Craner was captured. …Jim repeated nearly everything he said.  “How about Guy? Give me your serial number, quick.  I read you Babes, I’ll see you after the war.”  Craner wanted something to happen and suggested a low pass.  He wanted the guard to talk to us and finally he did. …He clearly said “You can-pick him-up-in Hanoi.”

Jones’ tale concludes with this paragraph:

“The end of the first mission was about 5.5 hours in the cockpit, with Jim getting the extra refueling.  We landed at Da Nang for debriefing at Seventh Air Force request, as everyone was excited about the contact with Craner-maybe the first time contact was made with a pilot after he was captured.  Up to this point, I was OK in the cockpit-didn’t have any thirst, didn’t need a cigarette and didn’t have urge to use the relief tube.  But when the canopy opened, I found out I couldn’t MOVE.  It was like my muscles had atrophied and I swore that they would need a crane to get me out.  As it turned out, I managed barely to get down the ladder by myself.  Older, wiser and sorer.”

The 603 pages of this book are filled with story after story like this, each one more interesting and more revealing than the last.  In creating Misty, Don Shepperd has presented the warriors war in all its many facets.  As a plus, besides all of the accurate combat language in the book, Shepperd provides an excellent series of appendices and an indispensable glossary.  Everybody interested in aerial combat should have this book, and the first step is to get on the line with 1st Books Library, using their toll free number 1-800-839-8640 or 1-812-339-6000 outside USA and Canada.

– review by Walter J. Boyne, noted Air Force historian, former
curator of the Smithsonian, and the author of over 50 books

6/03/03   I can’t remember when a book captured me like MISTY did!  Perhaps it was because I also flew the F-100 out of Tuy Hua from Feb.1970 – Oct.1970 and was a member of the 416th TFS that housed “Misty” during it last few waning days.  I also got to fly my fair share of “out country” missions into Laos before we switched gears and went into Cambodia on May 1, 1970.

Amazing how the names of places comes back after 30 years.  I would just sit there and flip page after page wondering if I had visited that piece of real estate before.  Fascinating to read about the AAA and the SAM’s in the early days of Misty and how you guys learned to cope.

I guess what grabbed my attention about the book more than anything else was the number of pilots I knew ( after the fact) that were Misty’s.  I met a lot of them on my second tour when we flying A-7s out of Korat in 1973.  I also spent almost 9 years of my 20 year career at Nellis where you’re bound to meet every swinging dick that ever flew fighters who was somebody Plus a number of Misty pilots also ended up becoming Barstoolers, so that gave me another avenue to meet some more, like Brian Williams, Dave Jenny, Eben Jones, Chuck Shaheen, Bob Konopka, Chuck Holden and even Ron Fogleman.  The book was like a homecoming to me in so many respects, the jet, the people and the land.

I would find myself up quite late at night actually flying those missions when my wife would come out of the bedroom and catch me with my left hand attempting to light the afterburner while slowly lowering the book as I eased off the stick so as prevent the dreaded compressor stall and potential engine damage/flameout to follow.  No book has ever done that before!

I also appreciate your attention given to the Jolly Greens and what tremendous work those guys did in SEA.  My limited vocabulary just can’t say enough about them, the Sandy’s and Spad’s.   I thought the book did a superb job of explaining just how important it is when one crew member is on the ground and what kind of operation you had the authority to muster to recover just that one person.

So many memories, all I can say is thank you very much for time and effort it took you to write such a splendid book.

– review by Tony “Silver” Bulat
F-100 and A-7 Fighter Pilot


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