Classified Secret: Controlling Airstrikes in the Clandestine War in Laos

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9780897452410: Classified Secret: Controlling Airstrikes in the Clandestine War in Laos
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Book by Churchill, Jan

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About the Author:

Jan Churchill, from New Castle, Delaware, is a corporate pilot and writer. She holds an Airline Transport Pilot certificate with multi-engine and instrument flight instructor ratings, and a C-47/DC-3 type rating and a seaplane rating. She has been an airline pilot and has accumulated over 13,000 flying hours in a variety of aircraft, from a J-3 Cub to the F-14, F-16, and C-5B.

An air show pilot for over 20 years, flying the C-47/R4D, O-1, and O-2, she has also owned and restored several warbirds. She is currently flying an O-2. Churchill is an FAA Safety Counselor.

She is an aircraft Commander for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and is a member of the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association, Friends of the Ravens, Air Commando Association, Combat Controllers Association, The Wings Club, Confederate Air Force, Society of Aerospace Communicators, Pennsylvania Aero Club, Delaware Pilots Association, EAA, Ninety-Nines (International Organization of Women Pilots), and Lions International. She is Squadron Commander of EAA Warbirds Squadron 8 and immediate past Commander of an USCG Auxiliary Flotilla. She holds a B.A. from Sweet Briar College and an M.A. in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. She is also a licensed American Kennel Club judge.

Churchill is the author of Hit My Smoke Forward Air Controllers in Southeast Asia (Sunflower University Press) , On Wings to War (Sunflower University Press), and The New Labrador Retriever (Macmillan Co.).

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Preface: I learned about the Butterfly FACs who flew in Laos when I interviewed some of the Ravens USAF Forward Air Controllers, at the Experimental Aircraft Association's Oshkosh Air Show in Wisconsin for my book Hit My Smoke Forward Air Controllers in Southeast Asia (1997). Butterfly 22, Senior Master Sergeant James Stanford (Ret.), suggested that I learn more about the fact that enlisted men were controlling the Navy and USAF jets prior to the Ravens' appearance in Laos. The following year, I met Charlie Jones, then president of the Air Commando Association and Combat Controllers Association. He, too, urged me to write the story of the Butterfly FACs. Then I met Brigadier General Harry C. "Heinie" Aderholt (Ret.), who advised me to write not just about a few men, but to tell the whole story. And he offered to put me in touch with the people I needed to talk to, many of whom did not know it was "all right" to share their stories until General Aderholt called them on my behalf.

It seems that all kinds of people were controlling airstrikes in the secret war in Laos, and I have been able to interview quite a few of these men. They were not allowed to keep records, but they did take pictures, which they have given to me for the book. As General Aderholt explained, "There were so many things going on and no real records."

As a pilot myself, I also wanted to get in touch with some of the men who did the flying for the CIA airlines, Air America (AA), and Continental Air Services (CAS). I was also curious to know if the jet fighter/bomber pilots had any idea that the FACs controlling their airstrikes in northern Laos were non-rated or enlisted personnel. None of them were aware of this, until I spoke with them in 1998.

For the most part, this book concentrates on the early years in the clandestine war in Laos.

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