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MILITARY BOOKS

Stephen R. Gray

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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.  Stephen Gray is the author of Rampant Raider: An A-4 Skyhawk Pilot in Vietnam.

 

According to the book description of Rampant Raider: An A-4 Skyhawk Pilot in Vietnam, “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.”


Rampant Raider: An A-4 Skyhawk Pilot in Vietnam
Stephen R. Gray  More Info

Lieutenant Colonel Brendan Reilly said of Rampant Raider: An A-4 Skyhawk Pilot in Vietnam, “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 aviation, 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 similar situations. I give it an AA.”

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