This is Dr Grandin’s second book: the first was about the battle of Long Tan.
He had been a UH-1B helicopter pilot in 9 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force in Vietnam during that battle and had been directly involved in it, providing the direct ammunition resupply to the troops on the ground. His account, which won the RAAF’s Biennial Literature Award in 2018, is an important account not only of that battle but also of the early support provided to the Army by 9 Squadron during that conflict. The book is also a good account of the author’s earlier and later experiences.
Why was 9 Squadron sent to Vietnam? The direct answer was to support the Australian Task Force. Grandin does not avoid discussing the conflicting views of the RAAF and the Army in the performance of this task. The book is valuable for this topic alone – it shows how command and control structures are indeed important.
Though a very small element of the huge number of helicopters in Vietnam, 9 Squadron provided a sterling service to the soldiers on the ground. Its capabilities developed during its involvement in the war, starting tentatively with challenges in its role to becoming a confident and cooperative provider of troop transport, SAS insertions, resupply, medevac and gunship support.
This book is convincing evidence of the need for joint service understanding. Dr Grandin is to be congratulated for a clear and important story of his part in the Vietnam War.
Reviewed for RUSIV by Mike O’Brien, September 2019
Contact Royal United Services Institute about this article.