Dead Men Flying: Victory in Viet Nam The Legend of Dust off: America's Battlefield Angels
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Viet Nam may be the only war we ever fought, or perhaps that was ever fought, in which the heroism of the American soldier was accompanied by humanitarianism unmatched in the annals of warfare. And the humanitarianism took place during the heat of the battle. The GI fixed as he fought, he cured and educated and built in the middle of the battle. He truly cared for, and about, those people. What other Army has ever done that? Humanitarianism was America's great victory in Viet Nam. Spearheading the humanitarian efforts were the air ambulance operations, call-sign Dust Off, the most dangerous of all aviation operations, which rescued some one million souls in Viet Nam. Dead Men Flying is the story of Charles Kelly, the father of Dust Off, who gave his life to save Dust Off - the greatest life-saver ever. His dying words - When I have your wounded - set the standard for combat medicine to this day. It is also the story of the author, Medal of Honor recipient General Patrick Brady, who learned from Charles Kelly and struggled to meet his standard. Brady led the 54th Medical Detachment as it rescued over 21,000 wounded - enemy and friendly - in 10 months, while sustaining 26 Purple Hearts. Finally, Dead Men Flying is the story of salvation in the midst of horror, courage in the face of adversity, and the miracle of faith in the heat of combat. A riveting tale from America's most decorated living soldier, this is a book that no American can afford to ignore.
village over run by the communists. The children were soaked with gas, set on fire, and the parents forced to watch them running and screeching as they burned to death. As Dust Off pilots we would witness many such communists’ atrocities. Tragically, the enemy was not the only source of fatalities. Enemy caused casualties are easier to live with than those killed accidentally by friendlies, often because of ignorance but more often because of poor communication. On one horrifying pickup, we
not to identify their smoke, just pop it and we would identify the color. If there were a number of colors, we could verify the correct one. This worked. I studied Vietnamese, but the only words I remembered translated into “pop your smoke.” As a last resort we simply made a low fast approach and, if we spotted friendlies, landed. Because of the perceived danger, many units avoided night flying except for the most urgent missions. I thought that was foolish. It does no good to avoid something
operations officer and needed an assistant who could deal with me as well as the other pilots and crew men in high stress situations. And he had to be administratively sound with exceptional communications skills. Wayne was the perfect man to do this. I took him away from the flight line and made him my assistant. I also tasked him to keep a record of all that we did. My hope was to put together some sort of a yearbook for the men. They didn’t know it then, but I was sure this would be the most
determine our destination. In the meantime, I was determined to do as much training as possible. It was an opportunity to teach all that I had learned in Viet Nam to uncluttered minds. They would know only one Way—the Kelly way. They would not fly like the MEDEVACs, nor would our crews be reading any comic books. I began to plot training areas and got checked out as an IP in the Huey. I asked for extra hours and some other IPs to help me in training our 10 rookie pilots. The IPs were willing to
cover of its banks, jumped the tree line and landed. Charlie could now see Dust Off 53 and intensified their fire which riddled the chopper as Pappy Coleman made trip after trip under fire to load the wounded. The friendlies could not suppress the fire and the commander screamed for Dust Off to get out. His troops hit the horizontal and 53’s medic and crew chief were left alone and exposed to load the wounded. Jerry did not have all the wounded and advised the ground commander he would not leave