Da Nang Diary: A Forward Air Controller's Gunsight View of Flying with SOG. By Tom Yarborough. Casemate Publishers, 2013. Map. Photographs. Glossary. Bibliography. Index. Pp. 335. $32.95 ISBN 978-1-61200-220-0
For those who would like to be in the cockpit with a USAF Forward Air Controller (FAC) to see how they carried out their missions, this is a must-read book! Retired USAF Colonel Yarborough originally published it in 1990 but has now revised and updated the volume with over 50,000 words of additional information on his experiences. Recently declassified Top Secret files allowed him to add more background and details to again relive key missions in this new edition. It puts the reader in the action with the many aircraft and the Studies and Observation Group (SOG) special forces.
Most of the material came from the extensive diary he kept while at Da Nang and covers 1,500 combat flying hours in over 600 FAC missions. Yarborough does not consider his memoir as history, but he claims this book is a contribution to the research of historians. He brings to light many factual activities of the top secret Operation Prairie Fire, that involved supporting SOG special forces raids into Laos and the Demilitarized Zone. Yarborough went on to complete a 30-year USAF career as a command pilot with 30 combat decorations. He is currently an adjunct history professor at Northern Virginia Community College.
Although the FAC concept had its beginnings in World War II and Korea, Vietnam operations further developed it in many ways. Yarborough's story mainly covers his tours with the 20th Tactical Air Support Squadron "Coveys" and the Prairie Fire operations. The FACs primarily flew Cessna 0-2s and North American OV-10 Broncos. Yarborough does...