Triumphant Warrior

The Legend of the Navy’s Most Daring Helicopter Pilot

Peter D. Shay

The story of Allen "Wes" Weseleskey, a daring helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War who undertook a dangerous rescue in 1968.
Date Published :
May 2019
Publisher :
Illustration :
40–50 images
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612007632
Pages : 240
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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The story of Allen "Wes" Weseleskey, a daring helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War who undertook a dangerous rescue in 1968.

Inherent in “A Navy Flyer’s Creed” is the power of inspiration: “My country built the best airplane in the world and entrusted it to me. They trained me to fly it. I will use it to the absolute limit of my power. With my fellow pilots, aircrew and deck crews, my plane and I will do anything necessary to carry out our tremendous responsibilities. When the going is fast and rough, I will not falter. I will be uncompromising in every blow I strike. I will be humble in victory. I am a United States Navy Flyer.”

In Vietnam, barely a month after the start of the Tet Offensive in 1968, one such proud United States Navy flyer applied the fundamental but sometimes forgotten maxims expressed in this creed. And he dared to risk not only his naval career, but the lives of his fellow aircrewmen in rescuing a wounded U.S. Army advisor whose time had nearly run out and whose loss of blood meant that he was only moments away from certain battlefield death.

The pilot, Lieutenant Commander Allen E. “Wes” Weseleskey, had been assigned to the Navy’s Helicopter Attack (Light) Squadron Three, the “Seawolves” at the Vinh Long Army Airfield. His controversial mission took place on March 9, 1968 on the outskirts of Sadec, in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. Two ARVN companies were being overwhelmed and despite coming under heavy fire, Weseleskey decided to go in and rescue as many survivors as possible. The accompanying Seawolf is forced to turn back after taking hits, but Weseleskey with the agreement of his crew persisted in the attempt, flying so low under the treeline that the VC rocket launchers were unable to reach it. On reaching base, it was observed that the overladen helicopter "looked like it had been used as a battering ram."

Allen Weseleskey was awarded the Bronze Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Navy Cross during his service. This is his story, from early assignments, clashes with superior officers, missions and rescues during the Tet Offensive, to homecoming. It is the story of a quintessential flyer, an American hero who was prepared to speak his mind and take risks. It also encapsulates the vital role of the Seawolves in the Vietnam War.

About The Author

Peter Shay is a retired US Navy pilot. Having flown UH-1B Huey gunships as a first tour pilot assigned to the same Vietnam-based Navy Seawolf squadron as the subject of this biography, and has put his experience to good use, as he conducted six Vietnam era oral histories on behalf of the Naval Historical Center, as well as having interviewed more than 50 witnesses for this biography of a former squadron-mate.

He has served as commander of the Naval Aviation Commandery in New York, honoring naval leaders such as former Secretary of the Navy James Webb and Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps General William Nyland, for five years, and is currently a member of Seawolf Association, Game Warden Association, American Legion (on behalf of which he helped coordinate their 2018 Memorial Day parade,) New York Council of the Navy League, and NYC Veterans Alliance.

Also a collector of Chinese art and photography, the author visited 15 different Chinese cities in order to research, photograph, and publish a 200 electronic photo book, “Photographing Chinese Architecture, A Century of Change.”


Introduction; 1: Early Operations in Vietnam; 2. Weseleskey’s Early Life; 3: Assignment at Detachment One; 4: Acciedents Plague the Seawolves; 5: In Transition to Next Assignment; 6: Change of Leadership at Vinh Long; 7: Tet Offensive Surprise; 8: Tet Attack at Vinh Long; 9: Bystanders Trapped During Tet; 10: Rescue at Cao Lanh; 11: Picnic at Vinh Long and the Return of the Seawolves; 12: Returning Home; 13: Retirement and Fulfilllment; 14: Epilogue


"Shay...specializes in putting together Vietnam War-era oral histories for the Naval Historical Center. An avid researcher, he conducted nearly fifty interviews with former squadron mates for 'Triumphant Warrior'. Shay’s narrative jumps from person to person but still develops personalities. Every man is vitally alive on these pages, often with death nearby. Similarly, he jumps from event to event without missing a beat. He grabs your attention and does not let go."

- The VVA Veteran

"It is a labor of love and the writing shows as such. His language is that of a Navy helicopter pilot and one who has the utmost respect for the individuals out in front and working behind the scenes. His attention to detail, specifically where he includes the untold stories of crew-chiefs, door gunners and enlisted maintainers is what makes this book stand out."

- Naval Historical Foundation

“The story of the battles of the Brown Water Navy fighting in the Delta region of South Vietnam are particularly significant for we may well experience that type of warfare again in the future. Peter Shay has focused his tale on a special human being, producing a gripping story that holds the reader’s interest, a great way to study the past."

- Vice Admiral Jerry Miller, U.S. Navy (Ret.)

‘’[A] lot of research has gone into Triumphant Warrior and the author was one of the helicopter pilots who served with Wes in this specialised unit. What is striking is the amount of detail...’’

- Flight Line

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