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Ralph Wetterhahn

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Colonel Ralph Wetterhahn, USAF (ret.) “is widely read in Air & Space Smithsonian, Popular Science, the Bangkok Post Newspaper, Soldier of Fortune, the U.S. Air Force Academy Checkpoints Magazine, the Retired Officers Magazine, Vietnam Magazine, among others. His work has been featured on America Online. The USAF Fighter Weapons Review and Interstate Electronics Corporation have published his technical writing. He is a former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot who served combat tours during the Vietnam War with both the Air Force and the Navy, then attended the University of Southern California Professional Writing Program. He is fluent in Thai, has traveled to and written extensively about aviation, travel, science, and done investigative journalism in Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia.” Colonel Ralph Wetterhahn is the author of The Last Battle: The Mayaguez Incident and the End of the Vietnam War; The Last Flight of Bomber 31: Harrowing Tales of American and Japanese Pilots Who Fought World War II's Arctic Air Campaign; and, Shadowmakers.


According to the book description of The Last Battle: The Mayaguez Incident and the End of the Vietnam War, “As commanding and revelatory as the recent best-sellers Flags of Our Fathers and Black Hawk Down, this new volume on the Vietnam War ranges from an obscure Cambodian island in Southeast Asia to the Oval Office of the White House as it chronicles one of the most overlooked incidents and heartbreaking episodes in America's costliest foreign conflict. On May 12, 1975, barely two weeks after U.S. helicopters lifted off the roof of the American embassy in Saigon, the S.S. Mayaguez was seized by Cambodian forces. Four days later, President Gerald Ford ordered a raid to free the ship, even though American diplomacy had already successfully negotiated its release. The U.S. Marine strike force took flight. The ensuing battle, the last of the war, took fourteen hours and the lives of forty-one Americans, including three soldiers who were unwittingly left behind when the U.S. choppers flew off. Vietnam veteran Ralph Wetterhahn has spent more than five years investigating what happened that day in the Cambodian jungle: how the abandonment of the three men who guarded the flank of the vulnerable Marine position occurred; why they were left to their tragic fate; and how -- from unprecedented interviews with the Khmer Rouge captors -- they met their grisly deaths. His spellbinding account redeems to our national memory these three entirely forgotten young Marines and their brave deeds under fire.”


According to the book description of Shadowmakers, This thriller by a distinguished military writer vividly brings to life the search for the truth about Vietnam War POWs, an unresolved national tragedy. When Major Will Cadence, a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot, visits his father’s grave, he is approached by a woman with photographs of Will’s father, taken years after he supposedly died in a POW camp. As doubts emerge about his father’s fate, Will visits Senator Hank Dalton, a former POW, shot down with Will’s father. Dalton, in the closing days of a tight run for the presidency, helps Will get assigned to investigate missing-in-action reports, a new posting that brings him alongside forensic anthropologist Dr. Gabrielle DeJean. A covert attempt on Will’s life convinces them that they have stumbled onto a massive cover-up, leading to a dangerous quest from Honolulu to Laos, Moscow, and the frozen Ukraine, where the truth about American POWs finally begins to dawn. Will and DeJean discover a powerful element in the U.S. government doesn’t want the truth disclosed, though the fate of the former Soviet Union’s ICBM launchers, and lethal chemical and biological stockpiles, hang in the balance. In a high-altitude chase that features thrilling aerobatic maneuvers, the climax of this exciting novel will leave readers’ hearts pounding.”

The Last Battle: The Mayaguez Incident and the End of the Vietnam War
Ralph Wetterhahn  More Info

The Last Flight of Bomber 31: Harrowing Tales of American and Japanese Pilots Who Fought World War II's Arctic Air Campaign
Ralph Wetterhahn  More Info
Shadowmakers: A Novel
Ralph Wetterhahn  More Info

Publisher’s Weekly said of The Last Flight of Bomber 31: Harrowing Tales of American and Japanese Pilots Who Fought in World War II’s Arctic Air Campaign, “According to an old U.S. Coast Guard saying, the American-controlled Aleutian island of Attu is "not the end of the earth…but you can see it from there." Attu was attacked and briefly occupied by the Japanese during World War II, and the battle to win it back marked the beginning of the end for the seven-man crew of Bomber 31. Former Air Force Colonel Wetterhahn, a certified aircraft investigator and author (The Last Battle: The Mayaguez Incident and the End of the Vietnam War), joined a forensics team in 2000, journeying to Kamchatka in the Russian tundra to investigate the crash site. Wetterhahn unravels the mystery of the crash while giving a full account of the air war in the Aleutians. He describes the various air battles with enough detail and enthusiasm to satisfy military aficionados, and his interviews with American and Japanese airmen give the story emotional weight. Many of the interviewees wound up in Russian POW camps as both air forces found it difficult to stay in the neutral territory mapped out by the 1941 Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact. The stark recollections of the pilots who navigated above the fog, volcanoes and icy waters, and who encountered Soviet prisoners on their way to the gulags, are revealing and will fill readers with admiration for the pilots on both sides. As one B-25 copilot remembers, "Every time I looked at the water, I swallowed to keep my heart down. The water was just whipped to a froth by machine gun bullets, shell fragments, 20-mm slugs, and big stuff that was throwing up geysers." These vivid recollections, combined with Wetterhahn’s efficient writing and rigorous research, make this a gripping war chronicle.”

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