In the winter of 1972, after many years of armed conflict in Vietnam,
President Nixon ordered Operation Linebacker II, the most massive
aerial bombing campaign since the end of World War II. In this
successful effort to end the Vietnam War, B-52s were sent from Thailand
and Guam to attack key targets in North Vietnam that would force the
North Vietnamese to capitulate. The primary targets were located in
Hanoi and Haiphong, North Vietnam, which were the most heavily defended
cities in the history of aerial warfare.
Yankee Air Pirates tells the story of this campaign through the eyes of
Spike, Bulldog, D-Kid, and the many other crewdogs (as B-52 crew members
referred to themselves) who flew the massive Stratofortress on these
dangerous missions. In the eleven nights of bombing, fifteen of the huge
planes were shot down. Five of the aircraft made it to safety in
Thailand before ejecting, and ten went down over Hanoi. Of the 61
crewdogs that went down over Hanoi, thirty-two were captured and later
repatriated. The other 29 gave their lives.
Who were these crewdogs? In the air, they were serious professionals.
They were wise beyond their years, educated by experiences that most
will never know. On the ground, they were rowdy, undisciplined,
They were heroes in a time that many at home refused to recognize their
heroism, and they were patriots when “patriotism” was a bad word in
America. Most importantly, they were eager to do everything they could,
including risking their lives, to end the war and free the prisoners so
everyone could go home to their families and friends.
Yankee Air Pirates
is at times hilarious, moving, thought provoking, and
insightful, but it is always entertaining. Whatever you think of any of
the wars this nation has fought, Yankee Air Pirates will make you proud
to know the men and women who have fought those wars for the rest of