Colonel Jim Roper, USAF (ret.)
“graduated from Wabash College in 1968--with fellowship offers to graduate school in chemistry. His draft board made
a more compelling offer, so Roper joined the Air Force.
After pilot training in 1969, Roper became a Forward Air Controller, or FAC, at Pleiku, Vietnam. With the call sign
Covey 5-9-1, he flew over Laos in the Cessna O-2, an unarmed spotter plane, patrolling the Ho Chi Minh Trail and directing
airstrikes on trucks and guns. Selected for a program called Prairie Fire, he provided close air support to SOG reconnaissance
teams--Army Special Forces clandestine missions behind enemy lines in Laos. He volunteered for a Top Secret assignment as
a Raven FAC, living in Laos, wearing civilian clothes, flying unmarked Cessna’s. At the royal capital of Luang Prabang
he supported Laotian government troops protecting the king. He logged almost a thousand hours of combat as a FAC.
In 1971 Roper instructed student
pilots at Craig A.F.B. in Selma, Alabama. After two years, he volunteered for a year in Thailand training Cambodian FACs.
Then he moved to Phnom Pehn, Cambodia, and served as an Operations Analyst on the Military Equipment Deliver Team-Cambodia,
until April 6, 1975. Phnom Penh fell to the communists on April 17th, just days after the fall of Saigon.
He spent three tours in England
and one in Germany, flying the A-10, the F-111, and a desk at USAF headquarters in Europe. During Air Liaison Officer duty
in 1983 with the Army's First Ranger Battalion in Georgia, Roper parachuted into Grenada during Operation Urgent Fury.
Roper commanded the 493rd Fighter Squadron at RAF Lakenheath from 1987 to 1989. He was promoted to Colonel and served as Director
of the Joint Warfighting Course at the Air War College. He retired from the Air Force in 1994.” Colonel Jim Roper is
the author of Quoth the Raven and Aardvarks and Rangers.
According to the synopsis of
Aardvarks and Rangers, “Jim Roper's second book is another intense military memoir written
like an action novel. He begins in a warm and dry F-111 cockpit, then descends into the cold and wet misery of the infantry.
As in Quoth the Raven, Jim takes you into the shadowy domain of special operations. When the Air Force threatens to convert
the fighter pilot protagonist into a chair-bound bureaucrat, his warrior identity responds. Jim grabs a liaison job with the
Army’s elite Rangers and learns the meaning of hooah: hello, goodbye, yes, I agree, anything but no.
Culture clashes inject authentic humor and suspense into this
true story of modern American warriors. Colorful characters dominate a risk-taking world where Jim dashes supersonic over
remote deserts and slogs armpit-deep in dark swamps with the First Ranger Battalion. Finally, Jim shows you the chaos of the
short-notice parachute jump into combat on Grenada, Operation Urgent Fury.”
According to the synopsis of
Quoth the Raven, “Humor and danger intertwine this memoir of the secret air war over Laos.
Joining the Air Force in 1968, Jim becomes a Covey Forward Air Controller. He pilots low and slow spotter planes over the
Ho Chi Minh Trail, directing airstrikes on North Vietnamese trucks and guns. He flies daring missions helping super-secret
Studies and Observations Group (SOG) reconnaissance teams, who routinely run into large enemy forces.
One by one, Jim's friends die. Cynicism builds. Jim realizes
the futility of his efforts in a war where the U.S. has become its own worst enemy. He volunteers for the Top Secret Steve
Canyon Program, the Raven FACs. Civilian clothes, unmarked airplanes, and bloody missions in close support of Laotian forces
around the capital of Luang Prabang mark this phase of Jim's war, where larger-than-life characters fight a vicious enemy.
Death strikes close, and Jim's mission becomes survival.”