Mark Berent is admirably suited to have written his historical fiction five-book Vietnam airwar series for he lived each story. He served four years and one day in the Vietnam War during the period from November 1965 until August 1973.
As a captain he flew 265 missions in the F-100 in 1966 from Bien Hoa Air Base in South Vietnam. While off duty he flew with FACs in their 0-1 aircraft to better understand the war. He also spent much time with the Special Forces III Corps Mike Force including going on patrol with them in the Loc Ninh area. (Berent had earned his jump wings with the 10th SFG, Bad Tolz, Germany.)
His next tour was as a major flying F-4Ds out of Ubon Air Base in Thailand. He flew over 200 missions, first as a flight commander in the Night Owl Squadron then as commander of the famous Wolf FACs. Both units flew over North Vietnam and all of Laos. Berent spent hundreds of hours over the Ho Chi Minh Trail both as a night strike pilot and as a fast FAC controlling strikes against guns and trucks he found on the Trail.
As a lieutenant colonel he served from from July 1971 to August 1973 first as assistant air attaché then as air attaché in the US Embassy, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. While there, besides flying hundreds of hours in the U 10 and C 47 gathering vital intelligence, he also logged time with the Khmer (Cambodian) Air Force in their T-28, 0-1, UH-1, and AC-47 aircraft. Additionally, he spent much time with Khmer ground forces teaching them to use air power. He earned Cambodian pilot and jump wings while there. In January 1973 when the war was over in Vietnam for US forces, all of the massive air power resources were made available for use in Cambodia until August 15th when the last mission was flown. Due to a fluke in timing, Berent and his team ran the air war in Cambodia from a most unusual place.
When asked why he kept going back, he replied: "A lot of reasons; because it was there, because I wanted a MiG, because when the threat goes up the paperwork goes down and the weinies run for cover, but mostly because the guys were still fighting. Everyday I'd pick up a paper and find another buddy KIA, MIA, or POW. I just couldn't stay on the beach."
Now he writes about these men. He has five books in print; Rolling Thunder, Steel Tiger, Phantom Leader, Eagle Station, and Storm Flight. Although historical fiction, the books are about the men and women who gave everything they had in a war they weren't allowed to win. FAC pilots, Phantom crews, Thud, Hun, and Buff crews, gunship pilots and gunners, green berets, grunts, carrier jocks, MAC contract stews, boomers and tankers, from corporals to colonels; the whole nine yards about the day-to-day heroism and heros we all know and loved . . . and some we hated. By way of contrast, LBJ in the Oval Office and McNamara in the Pentagon E Ring are included and the words they spoke as they picked strike targets over lunch are included in great detail, yes indeed. As are those of Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden.
Berent's books have won critical acclaim from Chuck Yeager, Dale Brown, WEB Griffin, Steve Koontz, and numerous newspaper and magazine critics.
Over the years Berent has published numerous articles for such publications as Air Force Magazine, the Washington Times, and numerous defense journals, and has been the tech advisor on a TV combat series.
For years he flew his T-6 at airshows as well as interviewing aviation luminaries at the Pavilion each year during the Oshkosh airshow.
In 2012 he was inducted into the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame. Berent now resides in Scottsdale, AZ.