Launch the Intruders
A Naval Attack Squadron in the Vietnam War, 1972
Each pilot and bombardier/navigator sat side by side in an all-weather jet built for low-level bombing runs, precision targeting, and night strikes. Their success—and their very lives—depended on teamwork in flying their versatile A-6 Intruders. And when the North Vietnamese mounted a major offensive in 1972, they answered the call.
Carol Reardon chronicles the operations of Attack Squadron 75, the Sunday Punchers, and their high-risk bombing runs launched off the U.S.S. Saratoga during the famous LINEBACKER campaigns. Based on unparalleled access to crew members and their families, her book blends military and social history to offer a unique look at the air war in Southeast Asia, as well as a moving testament to the close-knit world of naval aviators.
“A remarkable achievement. This engaging book will be of significant interest to anyone interested in the Vietnam air war.”
—Proceedings, U.S. Naval Institute
“Reardon has written a model unit history and, through this lens, a most revealing study of the closing stages of the Vietnam war.”
—Journal of Military HistorySee all reviews...
“Without doubt, this is one of the best accounts of Naval Aviation in Vietnam I have read.”
—Naval Aviation News
“A valuable reference . . . an outstanding resource . . . This book stands as a powerful monument to the memorial of the fliers, their maintenance and support personnel and the families who loved and supported them. . . . It contains plenty of the best of men at war, as well as the worst, along with lots of personal insights, humor, and much mind-numbing tragedy. . . . Highly recommended.”
—Journal of America's Military Past
“Reardon’s work is remarkable in that it reveals what it’s like to be in a squadron at war. . . . This might be thought of as a nonfiction counterpart to Flight of the Intruder. . . . The author deserves a lot of credit for bringing a tremendous human story to a superbly told tale of men and machines at war. . . . Strongly recommended for anyone with an interest in seeing what a squadron was like during the latter part of Vietnam.”
“One of the finest cockpit views of the air war over Vietnam ever written. Reardon tells us the whole story of the war—from the missions flown and bombs dropped to the plight of the enlisted bomb handler and the story of the wives left behind. Her sensitivity for detail and context makes this book soar far above your typical squadron history or pilot memoir.”
—John Sherwood, author of Afterburner: Naval Aviators and the Vietnam War
“A winner! This is one of the finest small unit histories to come out of Vietnam or any other war [and] a real contribution to the history of Naval aviation.”
—John F. Guilmartin, Jr., author of A Very Short War: The Mayaguez and the Battle of Koh TangSee fewer reviews...
Theirs was one of the toughest jobs in the military: launching off the carrier in rough seas as well as calm, flying solo and in formation, dodging dense flak and surface-to-air missiles, delivering ordnance on target, and recovering aboard safely. Celebrating the men who climbed into the cockpits as well as those who kept them flying, Reardon takes readers inside the squadrons ready room and onto the flight decks to await the call, Launch the Intruders! Readers share the adrenaline-pumping excitement of each mission—as well as those heart-stopping moments when a downed aircraft brought home to all, in flight and on board, that every aspect of their lives was constantly shadowed by danger and potential death.
More than a mere combat narrative, Launch the Intruders interweaves human drama with familial concerns, domestic politics, and international diplomacy. Fliers share personal feelings about killing strangers from a distance while navy wives tell what its like to feel like a stranger at home. And as the war rages on, headlines like Jane Fondas visit to Hanoi and the Paris Peace Accords are all viewed through the lens of this heavily tasked, hard-hitting attack squadron.
A rousing tale of men and machines, of stoic determination in the face of daunting odds, Reardons tale shines a much-deserved light on group of men whose daring exploits richly deserve to be much better known.