Taking Fire: Saving Captain Aikman: A Story of the Vietnam Air War

Taking Fire: Saving Captain Aikman: A Story of the Vietnam Air War

by Kevin O'Rourke, Joe Peters


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Winner of Award of Excellence in the 2014 Videographer Awards in the online video category for the book trailer

American military special operations forces—Rangers, SEALs, and others—have become a well-recognized and highly respected part of our popular culture. But whom do these elite warriors look to in their times of greatest need: when wounded on the battlefield, cut off deep behind enemy lines, or adrift in the expanse of the world’s oceans? They look skyward, hoping to catch a glimpse of their own personal guardian angel: a U.S. Air Force pararescue jumper (PJ) who lives, and sometimes dies, by the motto that others may live.

Taking Fire provides an up-close look into the heroism and mystique of this little known segment of the Air Force Special Tactics community by focusing on one of the most dramatic rescues of the Vietnam War. It was June 1972 and Capt. Lynn Aikman is returning from a bombing mission over North Vietnam when his F-4 Phantom is jumped by an enemy MiG and shot down. He and his backseater Tom Hanton eject from their crippled aircraft, but Hanton lands near a village and is quickly captured by local militia. Badly injured during the ejection, Aikman lands some distance from the village, and there is a chance that he can be recovered if American rescuers can reach him before the enemy does.

Now on the ground and drifting in and out of consciousness, Captain Aikman looks up and suddenly sees his guardian angel in the form of USAF Pararescue Jumper Chuck McGrath. As Sergeant McGrath is preparing to hook the downed pilot to a hoist line, he sees it fall to the ground. Hostile fire on the hovering Jolly Green Giant rescue helicopter has damaged the hoist mechanism causing the operator to cut the line. While circling A-1 Skyraiders strafe the militia to keep them away from Aikman and McGrath, the helicopter crew races to come up with a plan. It’s getting dark, and they’ll only have one chance.

Taking Fire is an exciting, highly dramatic story of life and death over North Vietnam. Much more than a chronicle the events of 27 June 1972, the book gives the reader an up-close look at the little known world of the U.S. Air Force’s elite aerial rescue force.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781612001265
Publisher: Casemate Publishers
Publication date: 09/28/2013
Pages: 216
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Kevin O'Rourke specializes in historical non-fiction.

Table of Contents

Foreword 7

Introduction 11

Chapter 1 The Long Ride In 13

Chapter 2 The Mission 33

Chapter 3 Making the Best of a Tough Situation 54

Chapter 4 The Good Mission 77

Chapter 5 A Bad Day for F-4s 103

Chapter 6 Four Is on Fire! 118

Chapter 7 Taking Fire 144

Chapter 8 So That Others May Live 165

Chapter 9 All the Way Home 195

Epilogue 199

Acknowledgments 208

Glossary 211

What People are Saying About This

James R. Casey

"The authors fully researched the action and verified everything with extensive interviews with all of the participants…gives an excellent picture of Pararescue and of Air Rescue." --James R. Casey, Marine Corps Aviation Association

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