Phantom Over Vietnam

by Trotti, John

Written By Bernie Weisz April 27, 2010 Pembroke Pines, Florida e mail: BernWei1@aol.com Title of Review: "An unintentional denouncement of America's will to win in Vietnam!" The only reason I did not give this book a 5 star rating is because John Trotti went overboard in describing the technical details of the "Phantom F-4", it's inner mechanisms, it's role in avoinics, and the complicated flying tactics of a "Fighter-Bomber" pilot. To the novice in this area, this part of the book is laborous to read. To the history student, Trotti very unintentionally gives a scathing denouncement of America's role and will to win in the Vietnam debacle. Trotti was there in 1966 and flew missions right up to where Henry Kissinger successfully negotiated an end to America's role in the Vietnam War. Trotti gives an awesome description of the sheer power and exhiliration of sitting in a Phantom at breath-taking speeds while shooting and being shot at by hostile North Vietnamese forces, both ground-based (S.A.M's i.e "surface to air missles") and ariel (Russian-built M.I.G's). Vicariously, this book gets you as close as you are going to get as to what it is like to fly in a fighter-bomber while engaged in combat. However, being a multiple-tour veteran towards the end of the war, (1971) Trotti wrote about attacking N.Vietnam's only deep water port, "Haipong". Trotti wrote: "The only targets we were allowed to hit were the transportation routes and the facilities away from the area (port of Haipong), storage areas and their anti-air defenses. Then, one day we were turned loose on Haipong's major power-generating station. Step by step, targets were added to the list and the size of the raids of the North grew apace. Then, for no apparent reason, we would cease our strikes for weeks at a time. The official word was that it was to show our desire to achieve a negotiated settlement rather than a military one, but it seemed to us that these moratoriums came at a time that the defenses in the North showed signs of crumbling. As we would increase our level of activity, our losses would mount for a short period of time, level out and then drop off. Just about the time that we seemed to be able to strike targets with virtual impunity. Our raids would be curtailed for several weeks. When the strikes resumed, the enemy's air defenses were back in business, showing ready improvement as the conflict wore on". Obviously, if the U.S. pursued a similar tactic in bombing raids over Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany, the war could have very possibly ended differently. Even more damning, Trotti wrote: "While my own beliefs were in the process of undergoing a fundamental change, my exasperation with the tactics of the antiwar activists and what I felt then (and now) to be a slanted coverage of the war prevented me from acknowledging a central truth in their allegations:that the war was immoral. It wasn't the war itself but the manner in which we waged it that constituted the sin, but that recognition was still several years in the future. Nonetheless, I was willing to accept as an alternative to the belief that Ho Chi Minh represented a danger to America that Vietnam was important to the experience level of a new generation of pilots, ensuring that there would be plenty of blooded pilots for the next war. This was a sneaky kind of callousness, because I didn't have to acknowledge that at best we were using other people and other turf for our live-ordinance exercises". Sadly, how do you explain that statement to the families who have slain relatives names etched on "The Wall" in Washinton, D.C.? Trotti wrote about the change in the American G.I's mentality after the Tet Offensive. Trotti chillingly wrote his observation: "I sensed the mediocrity of the situation. It was if our troops were wallowing in molasses. "400 days and a wakeuo, baby" became the duty slogan for boots no more than hours off the plane (from the U.S. to Vietnam via Okinawa, Japan). "Just make sure there's cold beer at the club". Trucks and jeeps with lolling drivers from the Americal (Division)_ cruised the main service road in an endless stream as if it were Main Street on Saturday night. Hundreds of soldiers with long hair and seedy fatigues lounged around outside the Americal PX smoking dope in blatant defiance of their officers and NCO's. "Bust me, you sucker," their postures said, "and see what kind of grenade comes through the door to your hootch." For the truly hard core patriotic ex W.W. II veteran commanding officer, it was hard to stomach Trotti's next observation. Starting in 1968, Trotti wrote: Dope had become a major, perhaps the major factor in unit performance in vietnam and provided the backdrop for the polarization at home. It was popular to refer to that polarization as being one of age, but the real polarization was a matter of which side of the dope fence one sat on-age was only a reference point, and a very poor one at that. In the same way that a generation of young men got turned onto cigarettes in W.W. I (because the government passed them out for free), another generation had turned on to dope in Vietnam because it was cheap, ubiquitous and "better than twiddling your thumbs, booby." It was "Vietnam status," and it made the rounds quickly as the vet hit the streets back home. For different reasons, both combat and support units were easy marks for dope. For the former it was the roller coaster ride between terror and boredom, while for the latter, it was boredom enhanced perhaps by a sense of shame. But whatever the cause, the results were the same. Only units thoroughly immersed in their work were reasonably immune to the siren call of cannibis (marijuana)." In conclusion, as long as the reader can tolerate periods of complex discussions of esoteric knowledge of how a Phantom fighter bomber is built and how to operate it, an excellent, in depth tale of the U.S. failure in the futile pursuit of victory in the Vietnam War lies. Other covered subjects include an in depth discussion of how the draft negatively affected existing troops in Vietnam who volunteered and wanted to be there, strained race relations between black and white skinned troops, and lastly the failed attempt to turn the war effort directly over to the South Vietnamese, e.g. the failed program Richard Nixon called "Vietnamization". This is a truly remarkable story through the eyes of a pilot of how things turned sour for America in the Vietnam War. Find this book, sit down and read it!

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Phantom Over Vietnam

Phantom Over Vietnam

by Trotti, John

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Phantom Over Vietnam: Fighter Pilot, USMC

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Phantom over Vietnam : Fighter Pilot, USMC

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by John Trotti

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Phantom over Vietnam : Fighter Pilot, USMC

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by John Trotti

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Presidio Press, 1997. Hardcover. Very Good/Very Good. 9x6x1. Binding firm, interior clean and unmarked. The closest thing to actually flying a fighter plane in a war, this book details the life of an F-4 Phantom pilot in Vietnam. *** 250pp. *** 4th ptg.
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