Book Reviews

TAKING FIRE: A Story of the Vietnam Air War

I normally don't read "war" or "military" stories.  I guess it just hits too close to home, and I don't want to dwell on it.  My brother was a career Air Force fighter pilot, my husband is a retired career National Guard Colonel, and my oldest son is currently serving in the Indiana National Guard as a Major, having served a tour in Afghanistan.  I know the landscape of the tension in the world can change so quickly that any one of those I love could be put in harm's way.

This book is just such a story.  This book tells the story of June 27, 1972, in Southeast Asia.  My brother, Robert Craig Miller, and his wingman, Captain Aikman, were shot down.  The book explains in great detail what happened on that fateful day.  The author uses language that any person can understand.  He also repeats definitions enough that you can relate to the story without being overwhelmed with verbiage that you don't understand.  The book is written for the American left back home, so that we can get a glimpse of what really went on in that side of the world.  Having separate commentary from my brother,  I was pleased that the authors did not dwell on the "politics" of the war.  Some of it is mentioned, but the main point of the story is to let everyone know about the remarkable people who serve our country.  This is not a "flashy" "headline grabbing" story, but one of true grit from a group of people that knows the meaning of duty and honor.

It took me longer to read this book than it normally would.  I think it was because I had an investment in one of the characters~~my brother.  My brother is ten years older than I am.  So most of what I remember about him is the brat he was that fought with my older sister and made me cry.  I thought he was hurting her, but they were only playing.  He soon left for the Air Force, and my heart swelled with pride.  The letters he wrote home from where ever he was stationed were read and re-read and cherished by us all.

While reading this book, I also was distracted by thoughts of my own.  Like where was I when this or that happened, and what was I doing?  I had a husband and a 1 1/2 year old boy at the time.  So my hands and thoughts were full of my own life.  I don't remember worrying about my brother, Craig.  After all, he was my big brother.  And aren't they all invincible?  I also thought about his wife and kids.  His wife, Donna, grew up in the Air Force so she knew what the life was like.  To this day, I consider her a tower a strength and the epitome of a military wife.

When my brother came home from Southeast Asia, I remember him telling my mom and dad about the incident in this book.  He seemed so calm in the telling of it~~almost like it was a story about someone else.  Because of his attitude, I guess I didn't give it much thought.  He was now safe and that was all that mattered.

The VietNam war was so ugly for so many reasons.  The soldiers trying to fight had their hands tied in so many ways.  But, please, put politics aside and read of the heroics of these gallant young men.

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