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Chuck Gross

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Chuck Gross, USA “is a retired American Airlines captain, author, speaker, martial arts and self-defense instructor. Chuck Gross began his flying career as an Army helicopter pilot flying in Vietnam where he flew over 1200 hours of combat. He flew in the Vietnam War from May 1970 through May 1971. While at American, Chuck flew Captain on the Boeing 767, 757, McDonald Douglas MD80, and the Fokker F100. He has approximately 17,000 flight hours. Chuck has been in the martial arts for over 35 years and is president and head instructor of the Tennessee Southern Praying Mantis Kung Fu Association. He teaches self-defense and was one of the first in the nation to have a self-defense video course.  Chuck Gross is the author of Rattler One-Seven: A Vietnam Helicopter Pilot's War Story and First Light: A POWs Rescue Mission That Can Never Be Acknowledge.

According to the book description of Rattler One-Seven: A Vietnam Helicopter Pilot's War Story, “Rattler One-Seven puts you in the helicopter seat, to see the war in Vietnam through the eyes of an inexperienced pilot as he transforms himself into a seasoned combat veteran. When Chuck Gross left for Vietnam in 1970, he was a nineteen-year-old army helicopter pilot fresh out of flight school. He spent his entire Vietnam tour with the 71st Assault Helicopter Company flying UH-1 Huey helicopters. Soon after the war he wrote down his adventures, while his memory was still fresh with the events. Rattler One-Seven (his call sign) is written as Gross experienced it, using these notes along with letters written home to accurately preserve the mindset he had while in Vietnam.


During his tour Gross flew Special Operations for the MACV-SOG, inserting secret teams into Laos. He notes that Americans were left behind alive in Laos, when official policy at home stated that U.S. forces were never there. He also participated in Lam Son 719, a misbegotten attempt by the ARVN to assault and cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail with U.S. Army helicopter support. It was the largest airmobile campaign of the war and marked the first time that the helicopter was used in mid-intensity combat, with disastrous results.


Pilots in their early twenties, with young gunners and a Huey full of ARVN soldiers, took on experienced North Vietnamese antiaircraft artillery gunners, with no meaningful intelligence briefings or a rational plan on how to cut the Trail. More than one hundred helicopters were lost and more than four hundred aircraft sustained combat damage. Gross himself was shot down and left in the field during one assault. Rattler One-Seven will appeal to those interested in the Vietnam War and to all armed forces, especially aviators, who have served for their country.”


Publisher’s Weekly said of Rattler One-Seven: A Vietnam Helicopter Pilot's War Story, “Gross joined the army in November 1968 at age 18 to fly helicopters, believing the Vietnam War would be over by the time he completed his flight training. It wasn't. He put in a year in the war zone, from May 1970 to May 1971, as a young Huey helicopter pilot, flying hundreds of dangerous missions under the Rattler 17 call sign with the 71st Assault Helicopter Company near Chu Lai and later in Quang Tri. Gross took part in the massive Operation Lam Son 719 in February 1971, when American forces provided air and artillery support for Army of South Vietnam troops who crossed into Laos to raid the Ho Chi Minh Trail. His war memoir is heavy on detail; Gross dutifully, and sometimes dully, describes his day-to-day activities in the air and on the ground. Reflections on the latter include passages on his interactions with his fellow pilots and superior officers and with the Vietnamese "hootch maids" who did the GIs' laundry and polished their boots, as well as details of his R&R and leave time in Australia. He offers some commentary ("What bothers me most is that we could have won the war!"), but wealth of detail, rather than of insight, is the draw.



Barry Rice, President of the Tennessee State Council, Vietnam Veterans of America said of First Light: A POWs Rescue Mission That Can Never Be Acknowledge, “Have you ever wondered what you would do if you were contacted by the US Government to perform a covert mission? First Light is a story about Curt Gray, an ex-Vietnam helicopter pilot, who is suddenly thrust into a secretive mission to help locate American POWs. Problem is Curt has buried his memories of the war into the dark recesses of his mind. His first thoughts are to refuse the mission, but his loyalty and patriotism will not allow him such luxury. As the mission unfolds, Curt finds himself entangled in a dark web of deception and emotional mayhem. Review "Chuck Gross continues to capture the Vietnam experience, just like he did in Rattler One-Seven, in a way that takes me back to my own months in the jungle. After the authenticity of Rattler One Seven, Chuck, in his new novel, weaves reality into a story that will leave the reader wondering is it fiction or reality? My bet is on .”

One reader of Rattler One-Seven: A Vietnam Helicopter Pilot's War Story said, “Rattler One Seven is a rare view into the mind, heart, and emotions of one boy's journey into manhood through the firestorm of the Vietnam Conflict from Special Secret Operations to the little known but bloodiest operation of the entire war, Lamson 719. Chuck Gross relives the days and events that tested every fiber of his being as a young idealistic American assault helicopter pilot. His story is personal and candid. He shares exactly what he thought and felt as he transitioned from a Midwestern high school graduate into a seasoned Senior Aircraft Commander in three short but unforgettable years. The facts and events that he relates in his "memoir" are, to the best of my knowledge and recollection accurate, and at times painfully so. I know this because I also served as a helicopter Aircraft Commander in his unit. My call sign was Rattler 12 (One Two)


The author brings the reader into the 71st Assault Helicopter Company of the infamous Americal Division from his arrival through his departure and finally to his return to an ambivalent nation. To those of us who served with Chuck in 1970 -1971 this book is, in many ways, our story too. He includes the good and the bad as he pulls no punches in airing some of our dirty laundry along with the unembellished acts of heroism that characterized our unit's daily operation. This book will appeal to the seasoned veteran and the history buff as well as the novice reader just being introduced to the Vietnam War. It is clearly and carefully written and includes many mundane facts that, to my knowledge, are not recorded in the rest of Vietnam War history but were so much a part of the culture shock of the Vietnam experience.”

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