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Fifteen Hundred Feet over Vietnam based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
In reviewing Bruce Lake's book, "1500 Ft. Over Vietnam", it is rare that an author can be so nonchalant and modest to the fact that he earned the "Silver Star" and 42 air medals as a young Marine helicopter pilot. However, when Mr. Lake wrote this book, it was never intended for publication. This entire memoir is based on letters that started on April 1, 1968 and concluded on April 20th, 1969. These were all to his wife in an attempt to describe his missions and what everyday life was like in his Vietnam "chariot" i.e. the helicopter. Self published and without the distortion of time (writing a memoir 40 lears later from memory) Lake recounts the pain of close friends dying way before their time in combat and crashes, braving enemy fire for troop intertions, extractions and medical dust off's. Mr. Lake goes farther than that. After leaving the service upon completion of his 5 year commitment, he felt embarrassed to tell fellow students at his college campus (often 5 years younger than him and often experiencing their first freedom away from home) that he had been to Vietnam. The war had done "strange things" to his head. After seeing hundreds of dead and dying people in Vietnam, not to mention flying 840 combat missions in 11 months and surviving helicopter crashes and countless near misses, Lake began to both "think" he was immortal and "knew" he was addicted to the adrenelin the previously mentioned would mentally generate. The reader will understand why Lake grew his hair long, bought a high powered motorcycle and drove it at reckless speeds. While working at a factory, Lake would go to the 5th floor and stand with his toes over the edge of the roof and stare at the ground-all in a fruitless attempt to unsuccessfully recreate the surge of excitement that could only come from bringing a chopper into a hot landing zone while surrounding N.V.A. muzzle flashes were aimed right at him spewing forth hot and deadly lead. Lake put the letters that made up this book away for 8 years. Then, when a Navy reservist and ex "Air America" pilot who lost a relative in 1968 asked Lake if he had been involved in the medical evacuation of his nephew's unit, Lake collected his feelings and with encouragement from friends and family started to chronologically arrange and read them. The result of that effort comprises this wonderful book. Mr. Lake does a fantastic job of explaining his part of flying in a new miliarry concept inttoduced into Vietnam, i.e. "Heliborne Warfare". Depending on weather conditions, Lake's primary job was to transport supplies, cargo, or most importantly bring 20 fully armed U.S. troops into battle flying his "A" model H-46 helicopter as part of squadron HMM-265. Lake quickly points out that even though between missions he went to the beach, slept in comportable quarters and went to the air conditioned "Officer's Club", he faced mentally draining issues such as "why did a certain pilot get hit? "When will it be my turn to die?" The hardest letter Lake wrote to his wife was the story of his adversion to "Wrigley's Juicy Fruit Gum". There were missions Lake flew where he had to bring back badly decomposed bodies of Marines K.I.A. To mask the stench of death , he would chew a few pieces and thick the moist gum to his upper lip just below his nose to mask the odor. Contact Mr. Lake ar "email@example.com&a