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An A-4 Skyhawk Pilot in Vietnam
  • ISBN/SKU: 9781591143420
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Era: 20th Century
  • Number of Pages: 384
  • Subject: Vietnam War
  • Date Available: November 2007
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$32.50 List Price
$26.00 Member Price
Full Description:


 A member of Light Attack Squadron 212's "Rampant Raiders," A-4 pilot Stephen R. Gray writes about his experiences flying combat sorties from the deck of an aircraft carrier during one of the most intense periods of aerial combat in U.S. history. From the perspective of a junior naval aviator, Gray reveals the lessons he learned first at the Naval Aviation Training Command and then in actual combat flying the Skyhawk from USS Bon Homme Richard in Vietnam.


Training strengthens commitment, Gray points out, allowing ordinary men like him to fly dangerous missions. Readers will discover how circumstances created heroes—heroes who managed to overcome their personal fears for a greater cause—and how, despite the lack of public support for the war, the men remained committed to one another. The book addresses how men react to service during contentious political times to offer lessons relevant today.

Stephen R. Gray became a flight instructor at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Beeville, Texas, after his aerial combat service in Vietnam. He left the Navy in 1972 and flew commercially for Delta Airlines for thirty years, logging more than twenty-four thousand flying hours. He lives in Hemphill, Texas.





"One of the best accounts of the transition from civilian to professional warrior of my reading experience.  As a former A4 pilot I can vouch for its accuracy.  As a maven of war stories, I will attest to its high level of pure excitement made all the more gripping because this is not fiction.  It is a compelling chronicle for laymen and veteran pilot alike.  Don't miss it."—Admiral James L. Holloway III, USN (Ret.), author of Aircraft Carriers at War:  A Personal Retrospective of Korea, Vietnam, and the Soviet Confrontation

"The A-4 pilots were the backbone of Rolling Thunder. As a JO, Steve Gray was in the thick of it and tells his story as only someone who experienced the terrible thrill and heart-dropping fear can. Rampant Raider is the first insider's look at the Skyhawk's war. A must read for all Vietnam-era aviators and for anyone with even a passing interest in the naval air war in Vietnam. This is how it was…"—Commander Peter B. Mersky, USNR (Ret), author of US Navy and Marine Corps A-4 Skyhawk Units of the Vietnam War 
"The best narrative I've ever read about how one earns U.S. Navy pilot 'Wings of Gold', and, to top that, you get an extraordinary—bomb by bomb—accounting of multiple Navy air wing 'Alpha Strikes' over North Vietnam ... all told in riveting detail.  I predict that Rampant Raider will become the 'pilot's bible' about how A-4 Skyhawk pilots first trained, and then waged war over Vietnam."—Kenny Wayne Fields, author of The Rescue of Streetcar 304: A Navy Pilot's Forty Hours on the Run in Laos

More by this Author

   A member of Light Attack Squadron 212's "Rampant Raiders," A-4 pilot... Read More

Events and Conferences

Guest Dinner Speaker
USS Bon Homme Richard Reunion, Crowne Plaza Hotel, 2200 Centreville Rd., Herndon, VA / More info... Read More
Guest Dinner Speaker
USS Bon Homme Richard Reunion, Crowne Plaza Hotel, 2200 Centreville Rd., Herndon, VA / More info... Read More
Customer Reviews
1 Review
Average Customer Reviews
4.00 Stars
Rampant Raider
Sunday, July 27, 2008
By: LtCol Brendan Reilly
For any Naval Aviator this title will remind you of your progression through training, bring back strong memories of your shipboard experience while capturing the essence of what it means to be a combat aviator. Gray expertly realizes in the pages of his book the sights, sounds, and emotions of what it is like to be a part of carrier avaition, even for non-tailhookers. I could relate to each page that described the training pipeline, the dynamics of a Fleet squadron's Ready Room, and the look and feel of flying combat missions. The author obviously knows his subject matter and does a great job of describing what it is like to fly and fight the A-4 (the details regarding stuffing chaff into spare space in the speed breaks and the like show how a can-do attitude makes mission success). It struck me while reading this book that while our training pipeline is more streamlined now we still matriculate aviators in much the same way the USMC and USN did back in the sixties (Familiarization, Instruments, Formation, Weapons, Shipboard Operations, etc.). I thought it also noteworthy that VA-212 wound up successfully countering the AAA and SAM threat by using higher altitudes, something that is practically standard now. Stephen Gray does a great job, too, when he relates some of the funny anecdotes and personalities that make any deployment something unique. From Red Baron to the call "Aw, Davy, you hit the pagoda!" all made me laugh having been in similiar situations. I give it an AA.


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