Taking Fire

Saving Captain Aikman: A Story of the Vietnam Air War

Kevin O'Rourke, Joe Peters

Date Published :
September 2013
Publisher :
Illustration :
16 pp. photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9781612001265
Pages : 216
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
In stock


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.

About The Author

Kevin O'Rourke specializes in historical non-fiction.



CHAPTER 1: The Long Ride In
CHAPTER 2: The Mission
CHAPTER 3: Making the Best of a Tough Situation
CHAPTER 4: The Good Mission
CHAPTER 5: A Bad Day for F-4s
CHAPTER 6: Four Is on Fire!
CHAPTER 7: Taking Fire
CHAPTER 8: So That Others May Live
CHAPTER 9: All the Way Home



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, October 2013

"In what is above all a gripping illustration of the bond between pararescue jumpers during the Vietnam War, this work covers in detail the dramatic rescue of airforce pilot Lynn Aikman on June 27th, 1972. Readers get an inside look at the Air Force Special Tactics team as they also struggle to save pararescue jumper Chuck McGrath, who because of damage to the hoist mechanism also gets stuck on the ground. O'Rourke (producer/instructional designer, U. of Massachusetts) has produced a number of documentaries, while Peters (information systems security professional) has years of experience as a journalist and freelance writer. The volume contains several black and white photographs per chapter and closes with a helpful glossary of specialized military terms.

- Book News, November 2013

"...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...

- Airfix Model World, January 2014

...a tribute to airmen who are dedicated to saving lives. The authors have created a vivid, page-turning narrative of war from the first to the final page. A few times I thought I was watching a movie and not just reading about loyalty, courage, sacrifice, and true heroism...

- VVA Veteran, February 2014

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