An extraordinary tale about a group of Air Force soldiers stationed at Phu Cat Air Force base in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Working out of a small warehouse on base, their main job was to provide goods and services to nearby bases, outposts and villager. Sometimes, they were tasked to ride security on convoys to other locations, a hairy experience, but necessary to protect the “special” cargo. Their leader, Sgt. William E. Richards, better known as “The Kansas NCO”, a wheeler-dealer and possibly the biggest player in the black market during the Vietnam War. He was rich and ensured that everyone associated with his illegal activities had their pockets lined; officers, police, Vietnamese government officials and underlings complied with his orders and shared in the bounty. Each delivery was planned out and executed – the scariest being secret night convoys through Indian country.
The first quarter of the book introduces the main characters and follows them through their day-to-day activities. Readers soon find themselves intrigued with the complexity of these “special” and brazen missions. Seeing that the war is nearing the end, The Kansas NCO arranges to pick-up and smuggle a plane load of heroin from Cambodia to Florida in the U.S. – a first for him. In order for his plan to succeed, a one-way decoy mission is needed at the same time, the VC will be tipped off and everybody in the convoy must be killed. Sgt. Richards chooses the men we’ve been following as the sacrificial lambs for this ill-fated mission.
Sometimes the bests of plans blow up in your face. There are survivors and after having learned of the double cross, now vow to expose the Kansas NCO and make him pay for what he did to them. Providing, of course, they survive the jungle and make it back to friendly forces. Enemy forces and a group of Special Forces soldiers are chasing them – intent to terminate their existence. Surprises abound – and there is a slight chance of them succeeding, but the odds are not in their favor.
Mr. Campolo has written a wonderful story filled with espionage, terror, suspense, love and hope. The story is easy to read and chapters short – each beginning with a historical quote from a famous person to set the tone for that portion of the story. I thoroughly enjoyed his work and recommend it to all readers. Great job Joe! Welcome Home Brother!
John Podlaski, author
Cherries – A Vietnam War Novel