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THUNDER: Stories From the First Tour  

Thunder cover

THUNDER: Stories From the First Tour is a riveting account from a combat helicopter pilot in the period of the most intense combat for American forces during the Vietnam War, including Tet of 1968. Climb into the front seat of a combat assault UH-1 helicopter with Jack, and experience the intense fear and exhilaration of flying through a hail of bullets to save dying men. The intensity of the action is matched only by the gravity of the situation at this crucial time in the war. Jack takes you from his arrival in-country with an assault helicopter company, where, on his first night in Vietnam, the only thing he had to defend himself with was a single, silver .38-caliber bullet. The journey from "peter pilot" to being "Blue One" as a Platoon Commander and, finally, as an assault helicopter company operations officer in the Highlands of Vietnam will keep you on the edge of your seat as Jack flies into one terrifying situation after another.

Feel the sense of power thundering through the skies of Vietnam, where you know any moment could be your last.

Read about the top secret SOG missions into Laos and Cambodia where small Special Forces teams battle against huge odds along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. You are there when Jack is shot down in Laos on the Ho Chi Minh Trail and fights his way to the rescue helicopter.

Visit a leprosarium with Jack as he listens to small children sing Christmas carols and then travel in a jeep through the night under the protection of a Catholic nun.

Experience a Montagnard ceremony with Jack and elite Special Forces soldiers where rice wine is liberally served and brass bracelets are presented by the village chief.

This non-fiction book is the real deal. It is all real; it all happened, and Jack lived through it to return home to his wife and family.

What Others Are Saying about THUNDER: Stories From the First Tour

"Jack Heslin tells the powerful true story of his first combat tour of duty in Vietnam.He brings that long-ago war to life as he recounts his baptism under fire and his subsequent mastery of the flying skills and tactics so essential to his surviving some of the most intense combat of the war. He gives extraordinary insight into battlefield leadership and unit dynamics. He tells what it was like being an Army helicopter pilot engaged in special, highly classified, missions supporting secret commando operations behind enemy lines in Laos and Cambodia. Jack writes of hovering below tree tops with bullets ripping into his aircraft; flying battle-damaged aircraft, shedding pieces of rotor blades in flight; and many other harrowing actions. A fascinating read."
-William Reeder Jr. Author of Through the Valley: My Captivity in Vietnam

"Read Jack Heslin's book THUNDER: Stories From the First Tour, an account of his first tour in Vietnam, when operating procedures were put in place, doctrine was established and heroes were made.

"Among his many decorations, Jack holds the "Silver Star" medal for extraordinary valor in combat. While at the controls of his "Huey" helicopter, he never faltered. This is a must-read for adventure buffs and historians, and is a military classic in the making."
-John J. Duffy DSC plus 8 Purple Hearts, author of The Battle for Charlie and 5 more books

"THUNDER is a really interesting book about Vietnam. While it has all the hairy flying experiences one can expect, Heslin provides a different perspective. Jack wasn't just another lieutenant, fresh out of flight school when he arrived in country. He was a father with two children with one on the way when he arrived at the 119th Assault Helicopter Company based at Camp Holloway. One would think Jack's experience and perspective from a year plus with the 82nd Airborne Division, would have prepared him for his first tour, but like many of us, what we think flying in combat will be like and the reality are often very different.

"THUNDER is extremely well documented and gives kudos to those who deserved them. In this book which covers his first tour, he goes from FNG (if that needs to be translated, you shouldn't be reading The Aviator) to platoon commander and company operations officer. The matter of fact way Jack tells his experience makes it easy to follow and for those of us over fifty, the fourteen point type is easy on the eyes.

"For those of you who want to read about what it is like to fly a helicopter in Vietnam, supporting the Special Forces Top Secret SOG mission into Laos and Cambodia, THUNDER: Stories From the First Tour, is one of those books you have to read."
-Marc Liebman, a VHPA Life Member, is a retired Navy Captain and Naval Aviator who flew combat search and rescue missions during the Vietnam War. He is also the author of five published novels with more coming.
   This review by Marc Liebman appears in the VHPA Aviator Magazine September/October 2018 issue

THUNDER at De La Salle Middle School

THUNDER Discussion Board

Lessons of Vietnam Web Broadcast 08-08-2018 "w/ Jack Heslin, Author 'THUNDER - Stories From the First Tour'"

"Vietnam veteran Jack Heslin unveils new book and a quest"
Supplement to the Brunswick Beacon, October, 2018

"THUNDER: Stories From the First Tour" is available for purchase from
Barnes & Noble
Outskirts Press
and other fine booksellers.

A PDF version of the book is available for instant download from Outskirts Press for $5.00

Profits from this book will be used to support the Battle of Kontum web site.

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