william peterson grew up in a rural small town in upper michigan., where his wife began saving all of his business cards. he is multi-talented , but bores easily. he has previously been a flight instructor in both airplanes and helicopters and a corporate pilot for 18 years. amongst his endeavors are log home builder, taxidermist, owned and operated a trucking company, and the list goes on. bill has written a couple of magazine articles prior to writing about his vietnam tour in 67-68. after fifteen years of passionate writing, the author released his book: missions of fire and mercy – until death do us part. this award winning author has won the silver medal award for memoirs in the 2011 military writer's society of america awards program.
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this true story is about serving as a huey crew chief/door gunner with charlie 227th assault helicopter battalion, first air cavalry. I invite you to come along for the ride of your life while we fly low-level at 120 knots over the tree tops, in an attempt to avoid enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire. you will find this seldom works when you here multiple rounds strike the aircraft and see bullet holes appearing at your feet, through the sides and ceiling of your aircraft, and on more than one occasion, feel the hot shrapnel hit your body. on a daily basis we'll fly combat assaults into the remote landing zones in the rice paddies, and mountains of vietnam and laos.
the adrenaline rush and extreme fear we all feel while attempting to avoid enemy anti-aircraft fire, only to reduce altitude to get peppered by automatic weapons fire, and receive mortar and rocket fire in the lz's (landing zones) is a daily occurrence. if that isn't enough, you will feel the end of your life rapidly coming to an end, as your ship is badly crippled by enemy fire and crashes violently amidst a swarm of well armed enemy soldiers who are intent on killing you. the grunts in the field welcome the arrival of your ship when you unload much needed food, water and ammo. kicking ammo, mortars and grenades out the door at a remote mountainside lz at night, while enemy tracers lick your ship will make you pray to "white robe six" (the flight crew's call sign for god), thinking your crew will never make it out of this nightmare alive. wondering why you ever volunteered for this mission, you are praying that you, your crew, and the men on the ground will still be alive in the morning. we'll fly missions of mercy while landing (often under heavy enemy fire...and often in the coal black night) in remote lz's to extract the wounded and dying, whose tears and frightful facial expressions will haunt you the rest of your life. the massive blood shed by your comrades catches the slipstream only to wash against your boots and fatigues. much of it blows in your face as you work at patching these men up to stop the flow of blood. while you cry out to god to stop this insanity, you can taste the lifeblood that is rapidly running out of these heroes. the sweetness is unlike anything we will return later for the dead...who are in no rush to depart this stinking, humid, hot and and horrid jungle where they sacrificed their young lives for freedom after hours and sometimes days of battle with the north vietnamese army. after several days of these missions back to back, your crew will take a short break when you land the chopper on a river sandbar to wash the blood from your ship. unfortunately, there will be a lot more of the same. will this ever end?