"Robert Curtis gives us a compelling account of his exemplary service in wartime and beyond. The combat missions he flew out of Phu Bai/Camp Eagle in Vietnam did so much for so many, and remain alive and meaningful for all of us today. "--Gary Matthews, American Ambassador (ret), Former Deputy and Province Senior Adviser, Thua Thien/Hue
"Curtis' eye for detail puts him in the top rank of my list of Vietnam War autobiographers. The precision of his style creates both the picture and the mood of acts as simple as crawling out of bed and shuffling to the flight line in the middle of the night. Curtis repeatedly refreshed my Vietnam War memories. His highly personalized description of helicopter action during Lam Son 719 is the most straightforward account of that operation I have read. What's more, Curtis injects historical references without breaking the narrative thread."--The VVA Veteran
"Curtis uses a particular wit and sharp descriptive skills to narrate his extraordinary career. He brings the reader right into the moment, whether in the cockpit of a Chinook in Vietnam, a CH- 46E on a pitching deck at night, or a Sea King navigating the fiords of Norway. Curtis was surprised at being alive when he passed his retirement physical. you will be surprised as well, with this great reading experience."--VHPA Aviator
"The author's time in Vietnam was action packed, flying over the DMZ, the Laotian border and Khe Sanh. During his time there, he heard NVA radar and radio signals, dodged enemy ordnance, and survived an enemy round through the helo windshield. . . . The danger of flying the aerodynamically complex helicopters in all kinds of rapid changing weather conditions and varied topographies required courage and skill. Curtis few training, transportation, supply and combat missions in climate regions from the Southeast Asian tropics to the storms, highlands and ice of the Arctic. . . . In 1992, Major Curtis retired from the military, "...surprised to still be alive.--Naval History Magazine
"provides a worthwhile journey into history and one man's multifaceted service. The work is recommended reading for all aviation aficionados."--20th Century Aviation Magazine
Sometimes it just isn’t your day. Whether your helicopter comes apart in flight due to equipment failure, or another aircraft runs into you in midair, or an enemy gunner lands his rounds in exactly the right spot to take you out of the sky. That’s why, after twenty-four years and more than five thousand flight hours with four armed services, Maj. Robert Curtis was surprised to still be alive when he passed his retirement physical.
His flying career began in the thick of the war, flying Chinooks over Vietnam with the 101st Airborne. From there, Curtis continued to serve with the National Guard while attending college. By then, flying had become an addiction for Curtis, so he continued on with the Marine Corps and Royal Navy. Over the next seventeen years, he would fly off US and British ships from Egypt to Norway and all points in between.
Curtis flew eight different helicopters—the wooden-bladed OH-13E, through the Chinook, SeaKnight, and SeaKing—in war and peace around the world. During that time, many of his friends died in crashes, both in combat and in accidents. But some combination of skill, luck, and superstition saw him through.