The Ravens: The Men Who Flew in America's Secret War in Laos
Christopher Robbins, "The Ravens: The Men Who Flew in America's Secret War in Laos"
ISBN: 0517566125 | 1987 | EPUB | 420 pages | 4 MB
The Ravens were American forward air-controllers who directed strikes from vulnerable, low-flying spotter planes, mainly in support of a Meo general named Vang Pao in Laos. "Advised" by the CIA, this fierce warlord fought to keep the North Vietnamese out of the strategic Plain of Jars. Robbins (Air America) conveys the unique flavor of Raven-style combat and also explains how the diplomatic-military dynamics of the clandestine war in Laos fit into the overall American effort in Southeast Asia.
The cast of characters is memorable: a swaggering, rowdy bunch of mavericks whom their parent service (the U.S. Air Force) had great difficulty controlling, they seemed to get by on sheer cussedness. According to the author, they suffered the highest casualty rate of the Indochinese War. Robbins describes the poignant plight of displaced Meo/Hmong tribes people who have settled uneasily in the United States including General Pao and their ongoing struggle to "propitiate the alien spirits of America.