Da Nang Diary

A Forward Air Controller's Gunsight View of Flying with SOG

Thomas Yarborough

Originally published in 1990, this classic
work has now been revised and updated
with 50,000 words of additional narrative
and previously unpublished photos. It is
the story of how, in Vietnam, an elite
group of Air Force pilots fought a
secret air war in Cessna 0-2 and OV-10
Bronco prop planes—flying as low as
they could get. The eyes and ears of
Date Published :
November 2013
Publisher :
Casemate
Language:
English
Illustration :
16pp illustrations
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Hardback
ISBN : 9781612002200
Pages : 376
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
-
+
Available
$39.95
Paperback
ISBN : 9781612004754
Pages : 356
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
-
+
In stock
$19.95

Overview
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Military Writers Society of America Gold Medal BEST MEMOIR OF 2014.


Originally published in 1990, this classic work has now been revised and updated with 50,000 words of additional narrative and previously unpublished photos. It is the story of how, in Vietnam, an elite group of Air Force pilots fought a secret air war in Cessna 0-2 and OV-10 Bronco prop planes—flying as low as they could get. The eyes and ears of the fast-moving jets who rained death and destruction down on enemy positions, the Forward Air Controller made an art form out of an air strike—knowing the targets, knowing where friendly troops were, and reacting with split-second, life and death decisions as a battle unfolded.

The expertise of the low, slow FACs, as well as the hazard attendant to their role, made for a unique birds-eye perspective on how the entire war in Vietnam unfolded. For Tom Yarborough, who logged 1,500 hours of combat flying time, the risk was constant, intense and electrifying. A member of the super-secret “Prairie Fire” unit, Yarborough became one of the most frequently shot-up pilots flying out of Da Nang—engaging in a series of dangerous secret missions in Laos. In this work, the reader flies in the cockpit alongside Yarborough in his adrenaline-pumping chronicle of heroism, danger and wartime brotherhood. From the rescuing of downed pilots to taking out enemy positions, to the most harrowing extended missions directly overhead of the NVA, here is the dedication, courage and skill of the fliers who took the war into the enemy's backyard.

Colonel Tom Yarborough, USAF (ret.) served in the Air Force for thirty years in a variety of flying and staff assignments. A command pilot, during his two Vietnam tours as a forward air controller, he earned thirty combat decorations, including the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Air Medal, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. He currently lives in Springfield, Virginia, where he maintains ties to the academic community as an adjunct history professor at Northern Virginia Community College.

About The Author
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Colonel Thomas R. Yarborough served as an Air Force pilot for 28 years and flew two combat tours in Vietnam as a forward air controller. His combat decorations include the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Air Medal, and the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star. A former professor and department chair at Indiana University, he now lives in West Springfield, Virginia, where he maintains ties to the academic community by writing articles for various scholarly journals and periodicals. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book, Da Nang Diary.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Introduction
Prologue: June 30, 1970
Map: Area of Operations

1. Indoctrination of a Rookie
2. Across the Fence
3. X-Ray Mission: Laos
4. Prairie Fire
5. Rescue at Route 966
6. lessons in Judgment
7. Standing Up in a Hammock
8. Outside the Envelope
9. The Covey Bomb Dump
10. All Points of the Compass
11. Valley of the Shadow of Death
12. SAR on the Trail
13. The Year of Fifty-Three Weeks

Epilogue: August 15, 1973
Where are they Now?
Glossary
Bibliography
Index

REVIEWS
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"Many SOG veterans -- including myself -- are alive today thanks to the courage, flying skill and determination of Col. Yarborough and his fellow Covey FAC pilots. His personal account captures the spirit of those harrowing days when we Green Berets, deep behind enemy lines in Laos -- no matter how dire the situation -- only needed to hear Covey's approaching engines to know all was not lost. Congratulations on telling your story -- and our story -- so well."

- John L. Plaster, Team Leader, Recon Team California, MACV-SOG, author of "SOG" and "Secret Commandos"

"From telephone booths on the Ho Chi Minh Trail to dangerous emergency landings at abandoned Khe Sanh, you can almost see the explosions of marker rockets and smell the avgas in DA NANG DIARY, this intimate account of a Forward Air Controller working with the Special Forces on their secret operations in South Vietnam and Laos. Yarborough's vivid picture of staging the air missions that inserted SOG teams where they were needed is the only one of its kind. Don't miss it!"

- John Prados, noted Vietnam War historian and author of Vietnam: The History of an Unwinnable War, 1945-1975

"As Covey 580 and a former Prairie Fire FAC, I can definitely identify with Tom Yarborough’s saga. Da Nang Diary is a riveting, authentic story that has never been told until now. Yarborough takes you into the cockpit as he flies his dangerous top secret missions in support of covert reconnaissance teams operating in Laos. This memoir is very personal, honest, and insightful---and one of the best books about FACs ever written. A gripping read!"

- General Ralph “Ed” Eberhart, USAF (Ret), former commander of NORAD, U.S. Space Command, and Air Combat Command

"At last, after four decades, we can finally recognize some of the Vietnam War’s most intrepid warriors, the courageous Covey FACs who supported SOG reconnaissance teams on their top-secret missions into Laos and Cambodia. The dramatic true stories in Da Nang Diary fill a major gap in special operations history. This is a “must-read” for all warriors and a book to place on the shelf next to John Plaster’s SOG: The Secret Wars of America’s Commandos in Vietnam."

- Major General John K. Singlaub, USA (Ret), former commander of SOG and author of Hazardous Duty

"Col. Tom Yarborough adds another heroic chapter to the literature of America’s experience in Vietnam with his detailed, impeccably researched memoir of his year as a Prairie Fire FAC flying for CCN. Whether supporting SOG teams deep in Laos, rescuing downed helicopter pilots in the DMZ, or destroying deadly enemy antiaircraft positions along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, for Tom Yarborough the danger associated with flying for SOG was constant, intense, and electrifying. Da Nang Diary is the ultimate through-the-gunsight view of covert operations in Vietnam. Told with a powerful immediacy that puts the reader in the cockpit, Da Nang Diary is a book that should and must be read by all warriors."

- The Drop: The Journal of the Special Forces Association

"…takes the reader along on a number of missions , taking out the enemy threat, and picking up down pilots. Take it from one who "was there, done that" this book is worth reading as it sheds light on an aspect of the Southeast Asia air war that was not often discussed."

- Daedalus Flyer

"Excellent account by a warrior-soldier in the tradition of Carl von Clausewitz and TE Lawrence. Yarborough's account brought back memories of my tour as an AF intelligence officer assigned to HQ 7/13 from October 1970 to October 1971. I remember briefing many of these operations from Son Tay through Lam Son 719. Fabulous book…riveting, thoughtful account."

- Earl Tilford author, Crosswinds: The Air Force's Setup in Vietnam

"Highly decorated Author Tom Yarborough deflects all credit to others while assuring accuracy through extensive research of this incredible military history. There are many current day BIO's of the characters in the book that I found extremely interesting. Da Nang Diary has my highest recommendation."

- Military Writer’s Society of America

"the reader flies in the cockpit alongside Yarborough in his adrenaline-pumping chronicle of heroism, danger and wartime brotherhood. From the rescuing of downed pilots to taking out enemy positions, to the most harrowing extended missions directly overhead of the NVA, here is the dedication, courage and skill of the fliers who took the war into the enemy's backyard."

- Books Monthly

"I know next to nothing about the Vietnam War apart from the high profile events that made it notorious, the first conflict to incite the hatred and revulsion of an entire generation of protesters. Tom Yarborough's account of his involvement in just one aspect of the war makes for a hugely exciting read - not the kind of thing that made headline news at the time, but something quite extraordinary and amazing."

- Books Monthly

“The book fills an interesting gap in the history of Special Operations in Vietnam.”

- Military Heritage, November 2017

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