Vietnam Air Losses
The book was published in 2001 in the UK. One can readily see from the extensive Bibliography the breadth and depth of the research that has gone into the book. Still, a great deal is not known about some of the events, and we are hoping that those that were there and have first-hand accounts will share them with us. Those that we feel add to the history will be added to the database, along with the original text.
With gratitude, it should be noted that Rear Admiral Jeremy "Bear" Taylor, USN (Ret.), who has a magnificent website at Rolling Thunder Remembered, suggested that Chris Hobson's book (Vietnam Air Losses, United States Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps Fixed-Wing Aircraft Losses in Southeast Asia 1961-1973) was worthy of obtaining a copy. He suggested a few sources for tracking down used books. That search revealed that readers were being "gouged." The used copies were selling for many times the original price, up to as much as $896 through Amazon. The median price seemed to be at least $100 above the original price.
The information in the book is a treasure, particularly for the descendants, children and now grandchildren, of those that fought the air war. Sometimes, family lore and legend simply don't do justice to the memory of loved ones, nor are family members and friends able to fully appreciate the incredible bravery evidenced many times every day as men did their duty. In addition, unless one is a scholar of the war, willing to research and analyze without preconceived bias, it is difficult to conclude what really happened in the Vietnam War. Certainly, many history books and documentaries are inaccurate. And, unfortunately, there has been so much misinformation about the people that fought the war that often children and grandchildren won't ask veterans to tell their stories. Those veterans are too often reticent to lead the conversation, so the subject doesn't come up. But, if you get them at a military unit reunion or at a VFW or American Legion hall, the memories flood out. It's a shame that families may be the last to know.
Because such valuable information should not have to be paid for, particularly exorbitant sums, nor diligently searched for around the world, I contacted Chris and asked him if I could put the information online. He not only readily agreed to the project, but he asked if he could update the information. In the 18 years since publication, a great deal of additional information has been revealed, most notably the identification of remains through advances in DNA and the hard work of the search and excavation teams.
Accordingly, the information on this site has been updated substantially by Chris during 2019, and we hope to add more information as it comes available.
This site is an attempt to make all the information in Vietnam Air Losses available to a wide audience at no cost to them. It is most appropriate that I include Chris's Introduction from the book:
The Vietnam War is far enough in the past to be considered history yet recent enough to still have a deeply personal effect on millions of Americans, whether they be veterans, relatives of the dead and missing, or simply US citizens. There is a growing wealth of literature on the war, especially in recent years as the pain of the war recedes and the development of the Internet has given an added impetus to publishing.
As an aviation enthusiast and historian, the Vietnam War and its place in the development of air power technology, tactics and doctrine has always fascinated me. Virtually every available aircraft type and every weapon in the US arsenal, with the notable exception of nuclear weapons, was used during the war. The variety of aircraft and the multitude of roles, tactics and operations makes the Vietnam air war well worth studying. Yet perhaps because of its very specific nature, fought over mountainous or jungle terrain in a little known country against a shadowy enemy, the military lessons of the air war are sometimes intangible and difficult to relate to present day air power. Hopefully, this book may, in some small way, make the air war over Southeast Asia less intangible and may point the way to further research to ensure that the lessons of the air war are not forgotten.
In reporting the facts of the war I have tried to steer clear of the politics of Vietnam, unless they have a direct effect on the air war. Being neither an American nor a serviceman I do not feel qualified to comment on the political issues or higher strategy involved nor is any such comment necessary in a work of this nature. This history is about men, aircraft and air operations. The more strategic aspects of the war have already been covered by many excellent authors in a host of publications. I have culled the information presented in this book from a variety of sources, both official and unofficial. Some of the sources disagree on minor points, and certain information, such as that relating to many of the men listed as missing in action, may be regarded as speculative. However, I take full responsibility for any errors or inaccuracies contained in the book.
I am very aware of the sensitivity of writing about events that are so recent and in particular about the people mentioned, the memory of whom is still fresh in the minds of loved ones, friends and colleagues. It is not my intention to characterise or criticise any individual in any way and it is certainly not my intention to cause pain to relatives and friends of the deceased listed in these pages.
A number of people have assisted in the research and production of this book. My wife Alison has helped greatly by compiling the index of personnel and by providing support when needed and my son Jonathan has helped with my numerous IT and Internet-related queries and problems. Sincere thanks are also due to Robert Daley and Peter Bird for their assistance in providing information on the C-130 Hercules and C-7 Caribou respectively. It is thanks to dedicated men such as these that superb websites on a whole variety of subjects are now available on the Internet.
This book was inspired, at least in part, by one of the men mentioned in the text, Lieutenant Colonel Harold Eugene Johnson. I knew Harry Johnson when he was a USAF exchange officer at the Royal Air Force Staff College in the late 1970s. His experience as a Wild Weasel electronic warfare officer made him a valuable asset as a military instructor but his experience as a prisoner of war made him something even more special. This book is dedicated to the dignity, bravery and sacrifice of the thousands of men like Harry Johnson who fought the war in the skies over Southeast Asia.
Chris Hobson, July 2001
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