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A Hundred Feet Over Hell: Flying with the Men of the 220th Recon Airplane Company Over I Corps and the Dmz, 1968-1969 Hardcover – Illustrated, 1 Apr 2009


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Zenith Press; 1 edition (1 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760336334
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760336335
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.7 x 22.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 713,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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In [A Hundred Feet Over Hell], there is a universal truth: warriors don't fight for their country or flag, they fight for each other, often going far beyond what their country asks. It was an honor to serve at the same time as these men. This story is about the nation's best! --Lance W. Lord, General, USAF (ret)-- A classic story of war...from hell-raising antics in the clubs and bars to hair-raising combat operations, where death was often only inches away, this is a must-read. Those who have 'seen the elephant' will instantly identify with actions of their fellow warriors. Flying an unarmored aircraft well within the effective range of every enemy weapon on the battlefield to protect the grunts in close combat takes a special breed of heroes. This book chronicles the exploits of such men. --Gary L Harrell, LTGen, USA (ret)--Jim Hooper s gripping account of the legendary Catkillers of the 220th Recon Airplane Company once again shows us the spirit and ethos of American warriors. It shows the sheer guts, ingenuity, compassion, and humor of those who serve in defense of freedom...a tribute to the Catkillers, and the thousands who follow in their footsteps. Brigadier General Robert H Holmes USAF-- A moving tribute to the men that flew these small aircraft with skill, courage, determination and a whole lot of brass, Mike Seely, BG(ret) USA-- I flew A-4 Skyhawks out of Chu Lai, and then Bird Dogs with the VMO-6 Fingerprints at Quang Tri for the second half of my tour, You have done a magnificent job of presenting the deadly environment we all faced on a daily basis. I can't thank you enough for telling the story of the Catkillers, because it is a story not only about them, but everyone who flew in I Corps. Your book is outstanding- --Jim Lawrence, LtCol, USAF (ret)--I find I have to read parts over and over again because my mind fades away as I reminisce. The setting covers so many places I've been - Quang Tri, Dong Ha, Rockpile, Vandergrift, Con Thien, and others. Having been in a grunt unit and in 3rd Force Recon in I Corps I truly felt a part of the pictures you painted. [Hooper does] a remarkable job of providing the sights and sounds of a unit in trouble... --Tom Wilson, 3rd Force Recon--Jim Hooper s gripping account of the legendary Catkillers of the 220th Recon Airplane Company once again shows us the spirit and ethos of American warriors. It shows the sheer guts, ingenuity, compassion, and humor of those who serve in defense of freedom...a tribute to the Catkillers, and the thousands who follow in their footsteps. Brigadier General Robert H Holmes USAF-- A moving tribute to the men that flew these small aircraft with skill, courage, determination and a whole lot of brass, Mike Seely, BG(ret) USA-- I flew A-4 Skyhawks out of Chu Lai, and then Bird Dogs with the VMO-6 Fingerprints at Quang Tri for the second half of my tour, You have done a magnificent job of presenting the deadly environment we all faced on a daily basis. I can't thank you enough for telling the story of the Catkillers, because it is a story not only about them, but everyone who flew in I Corps. Your book is outstanding- --Jim Lawrence, LtCol, USAF (ret)--I find I have to read parts over and over again because my mind fades away as I reminisce. The setting covers so many places I've been - Quang Tri, Dong Ha, Rockpile, Vandergrift, Con Thien, and others. Having been in a grunt unit and in 3rd Force Recon in I Corps I truly felt a part of the pictures you painted. [Hooper does] a remarkable job of providing the sights and sounds of a unit in trouble...Jim Hooper s gripping account of the legendary Catkillers of the 220th Recon Airplane Company once again shows us the spirit and ethos of American warriors. It shows the sheer guts, ingenuity, compassion, and humor of those who serve in defense of freedom. --Tom Wilson, 3rd Force Recon

This rather starteling title actually chronicles the operation of the 22oth Recon.Airplane company over 1 Corps and the DMZ, Vitnam 1968-1969. Flying at low level at 100 mph over hostile territory was not for the faint hearted, and this is their story or rather the individual stories of a number of pilots and observers. In fact the work of at least one of these men was featured in a film where the pilot monitered th progress of a survivor on his way back to safety. This is not a book to review blandly as it is far to complicated with each pilot telling his own story, but if you are interested in this period of history you will find it an absorbing read and well worth looking out for. --Military Aircraft monthly, November, 2009--This collection of first-hand accounts by Forward Air Controllers flying unarmed Cessna Bird Dogs in the Vietnam War shows the hazards of these operations which performed vital missions but seldom received the coverage given to the fighters and bombers --Aeroplane Magazine, November, 2009

THE VILLAGES There is still pride in Sarge Means' voice as he talks about his time flying in Vietnam with the aviators of the 220th Recon Airplane Company, otherwise known by their call sign, the 'Catkillers.' Flying in the flimsy two-seat, propeller-driven Cessna 0-1 Bird Dogs, the Catkillers had the dangerous job of forward observers, patrolling I Corps and the Demilitarized Zone in the northernmost combat zone in South Vietnam.They were there to keep an eye on the DMZ and watch out for any enemy troops coming south that might engage American soldiers on the ground.They found and stopped the enemy before they could attack, and they supported the men on the ground by calling in artillery and air strikes once a battle began. 'We were called the eyes of I Corps,' Means, a resident of the Village of Sabal Chase, said.Few people know the story of the Catkillers, but many soldiers owed their lives to the brave flights made by those heroic pilots. It is a story that is finally being told through the efforts of Jim Hooper, a war correspondent, author, and brother to Catkiller Bill Hooper. Not willing to allow people to forget the Catkillers, Hooper has written a book told from the point-of-view of the Catkillers themselves, titled 'A Hundred Feet Over Hell.'-'My initial goal was to chronicle his (Bill's) experiences, though I didn't feel qualified to do so until seeing combat as a freelance journalist 20 years later,' Hooper said. 'Not long after I started prompting him for his memories, it became glaringly obvious that I couldn't tell his story without including the men he flew with.'Searching for other members of the Catkillers became Hooper's mission, and in what he describes as a eureka moment, he finally got in touch with Means.Through Means, Hooper then was able to connect with other Catkillers and even an infantryman who credited Bill with saving his life during an intense battle.'Jim called me I was assigned at Fort Rucker, Alabama at the time about 15 years ago, and he said he was writing a book,' Means recalled. 'That started a chain reaction. It kind of snowballed from there.'Slowly, Hooper was able to get the Catkillers to share their memories.He said he wanted to use the voices of the men themselves to tell the story because it was the only way to really get across to readers what it meant to be a Catkiller.'Combat is an intensely personal phenomenon; each participant sees and remembers it from a unique perspective and with a unique voice,' Hooper explained. 'To homogenize their recollections in the third person would have stripped them of that uniqueness. I felt it important to establish each character in his own words.'Means said he was impressed at how the book definitely captured what it meant to be a Catkiller.'For those of us that were over there, it was just as if we were back there, back in the cockpit flying the missions,' Means said.In 'A Hundred Feet Over Hell,' Hooper recounts some of the Catkillers' most memorable missions, but he also focuses on another aspect of the men who made up the unit lifelong bonds that came from fighting together.'Despite the war, it was the camaraderie we had, the love for one another, the sharing. I've always felt that. It was special,' Means said.The book also serves as a confirmation of the importance of what Means and his comrades did in Vietnam.The story of their contribution was something Hooper said he didn't want to see disappear with time.'The Catkillers flew the most dangerous missions of any army Bird Dog unit in Vietnam, yet nothing had been written about them. If I could ensure that they weren't forgotten, then I had a responsibility to do so,' Hooper said. ----Daily Sun, August, 2009

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bruce G. De Wert on 19 Dec 2009
Format: Hardcover
As a private pilot, I found this book to be entirely fascinating and made my own exploits as a fair weather flyer pale into insignificance.

What incredible stress these pilots underwent. To fly at such ridiculously low heights, being shot at and braving death and injury for hours on end, day after day, would test any man.

It is amazing that so many survived. At low level, like this, you are vulnerable not only to anti-aircraft fire but to personal weapons.

The fact is, however, that both Jim Hooper and his colleagues did keep getting back into their cockpits and do it, whether they wanted to or not. I can only wonder at such people and be thankful that I have lived through a time of comparative peace when I was not required to go to war.

The long-term consequences of such stress are to be feared for our own lads who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. We need to look after them.

I highly recommend this book for the insights that it gives both to the role of spotter aircraft and to the humanity of the pilots that flew them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P. Pienaar on 26 Nov 2009
Format: Hardcover
Having taken part in another war, namely the RSA/Angola conflict in SWA/Namibia, I can relate to the characters in this book. Their dedication, bravery and heroism is brilliantly portrayed by the author. The book 'sucks you in' and it's difficult to put down once the first page is turned. It's a shame that Doc Clement, Bill Hooper, Charlie Finch and their comrades haven't received the recognition for service to their country that they so richly deserve. They lived with death on their shoulder every day that they were in Vietnam and they are true heroes, one and all.

Jim Hooper has certainly captured the subtle nuances of life at the sharp end of war. Even though we may not all agree on the necessity for the Vietnam conflict, the author 'tells it like it is' and it's refreshing to read an honest and accurate account of this 'war within a war'. Full marks for an excellent, exciting and tremendously readable book!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By G. L. Avery on 18 Dec 2009
Format: Hardcover
Only about the third book I've read on Vietnam, but it was really outstanding. Not only a fine account of men in combat, but leavened with humour and humanity.
I thought the format - allowing the men to speak for themselves - worked very well. Plus the author's good knowledge of flying - no descriptive mistakes.
A highly recommended read, even for a non-American!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Crowhurst on 7 Mar 2010
Format: Hardcover
If you are thinking about buying this book, then definetly do so. I highly reccommend it. It gives an informative, heartfelt account of life in Vietnam, thru the eyes of a rarely known about or heard of group of pilots. It shows the reality of the day to to day lives these guys led, and gives a really unique insight into how they coped (or tried to) during their tours. Full of really interesting stories with accounts from alot of the participants in some of the main firefights it covers (the marines on the ground, the bird dog pilots etc), you get a unique insight into how they all interacted and worked together during a battle and how intense it all was. There is also has some really hilarious moments in there as well. A nice touch is the epilogue as well, detailing what all the guys featured in the book did in later life.
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