CHUCK GROSS was an Army helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War from May 1970 through May 1971. He logged more than 1,200 hours of combat flying and achieved Senior Aircraft Commander status. He lives in Gallatin, Tennessee.
Gross joined the army in November 1968 at age 18 to fly helicopters, believing the Vietnam War would be over by the time he completed his flight training. It wasn't. He put in a year in the war zone, from May 1970 to May 1971, as a young Huey helicopter pilot, flying hundreds of dangerous missions under the Rattler 17 call sign with the 71st Assault Helicopter Company near Chu Lai and later in Quang Tri. Gross took part in the massive Operation Lam Son 719 in February 1971, when American forces provided air and artillery support for Army of South Vietnam troops who crossed into Laos to raid the Ho Chi Minh Trail. His war memoir is heavy on detail; Gross dutifully, and sometimes dully, describes his day-to-day activities in the air and on the ground. Reflections on the latter include passages on his interactions with his fellow pilots and superior officers and with the Vietnamese "hootch maids" who did the GIs' laundry and polished their boots, as well as details of his R&R and leave time in Australia. He offers some commentary ("What bothers me most is that we could have won the war!"), but wealth of detail, rather than of insight, is the draw. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Gross's memoir is worth reading... because of his description of the chaos and incompetence that accompanied Vietnamization.... His stories should find an audience among serious collectors of books about Vietnam. - Military History of the West