Hilarious and tragic! The Last Ghostrider is a soldier's story sending the reader on a journey that could only have been inspired by the real thing and has moved combat veterans to assert praises such as; 'amazingly timeless' - 'emotionally challenging' - 'the Catch-22 of Vietnam' - and - 'honest to a fault.' (6x9 hardback/w dustcover)
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Frank Mosco Writer/Photographer
Frank Mosco Writer/Photographer
The Last Ghostrider follows the haphazard life and times of Army enlisted man Vincent Fusco during the years 1968 to '71 as he somehow manages to wade through the often incoherent reasoning and random events of military life and war. Fusco's journey takes you from his ridiculous stateside antics to the strange reality and unforgettable heroic characters of the chopper war in the central highlands of Vietnam and Cambodia. Inclusive of actual events such as the siege of Dak Seang and the Cambodian Incursion, this is an American G.I.'s saga that is of interest not only because of its revealing story but in the frank, humorous, and candid manner in which it's told. A style that readers have already placed on par with MASH and CATCH-22. A novel of "faction" inspired by the experiences, events, and real characters known to the author during his service with the famous 189th Assault Helicopter Co. "Ghostriders" that can only be described as insightful, revealing, surprising, and even politically incorrect. A must read book!
(Excerpt from Chapter 21 of The Last Ghostrider)
With our ship and our bodies refueled we returned, approaching Dak Seang in the midst of a maelstrom from hell. The cutoff reinforcements were still surrounded and the NVA were again attacking the base camp. There were layers of aircraft orbiting and alternately attacking from all directions. Huey gun ships and cobras were working the perimeter through a hail of enemy fire, getting as close in as possible with their miniguns and 60s splattering the flesh of the attacking enemy in all directions. They sent rockets into enemy NVA who were now dug in a mere 30 meters from the wire, and into the tree line to take out gun emplacements. The controlled chaos of the aerial defense alone was mind boggling, forcing us to shadow the Command and Control ship in order to stay out of traffic and trouble. At one time when I looked to the C&C ship I locked eyes with one of its passengers. He was decked out for combat in tiger fatigues with a ragtop, a .45 pistol, an M-16, an M-79 grenade launcher, and ammo bandoliers for both. I at first wondered why he was there since the command ship would only orbit at altitude and play quarterback, much as we were doing, then I concluded he must have been added security in case the ship went down, the security blanket of whomever was on that chopper calling the shots. As we grew near he looked straight at me and smiled and I somehow felt a connection or an odd sense that we knew each other, or an uncanny feeling that we someday would. The fleeting feeling sped away when my attention was again drawn to the actions on the ground.
A-1E Skyraiders, attack prop planes common to WWII and the Korean War, roared in like ghosts from the past, turning the surrounding multilayered jungle canopy into a huge billowing fiery red and yellow inferno with their napalm drops. In the midst of all this, small LOH hunter/observation choppers, the Loaches, buzzed around the tree tops like pesky bats looking for trouble and drawing fire in order to find and pinpoint the enemy for destruction by dropping smoke or white phosphorus. Green tracers rained down at the various aircraft from the sides of the cliffs and it sometimes appeared the entire valley was in conflict. Incredibly, the North Vietnamese forces didn't seem to be discouraged by the awesome symphony of air support as they continued to send men and sappers against the camp.
Repeating concussive impacts in the distance revealed B-52 bombers were dumping their loads on suspected enemy base locations. Then my attention was drawn to the fast-movers, Air Force F-4 Phantoms, that were napalming the bald peak of a dense jungle covered mountain. The mountaintop was the highest and most advantageous peak in the valley, known as LZ Orange. It had been cleared and previously used as a night defensive position and a fire support base by the 4th Infantry. When they moved out the NVA moved in and was now directing enemy fire support for their own troops against us from the same location. Once again someone somewhere decided LZ Orange was now critical to the defense of Dak Seang and the rest of the valley, forming a plan to retake the mountaintop by inserting a SOG Hatchet Force to secure it, then land an ARVN Mike Force to occupy it. Then if necessary, they could move down the mountain to aid and rescue the SF camp. Throughout the day the mountaintop was barbequed with nape runs as were other areas around the Dak Seang base camp where the NVA were repelled again, only to attack a third time with the same result.
Even at altitude the impact and sounds of the battle mingled with my heartbeat and the throbbing of the chopper blades as I sat there, clutching my gun, leaning out, observing. I felt as though we should be down there and at the same time felt fortunate that we weren't. I was like a small child taking his first Ferris-wheel ride, excited yet frightened, looking down at all the marvelous lights and sounds and confusion of the rest of the world. I was ignorant of everything I saw, and unlike the General, I had no background and no preview of what was going on or what was going to happen next. I had just shown up, an observer with no purpose, and there was something obscene about watching people die from a safe distance. Hovering while the brass chatted and pointed like Greek gods from up in the clouds looking down and placing bets on mortals in conflict.
We toured the valley from above and watched the assault on Dak Seang and the events on the mountain. The only thing that slowed the bloody efforts by both sides was the eventual setting of the sun. As it slid behind the western mountains and darkness fell we pulled away. We were leaving just as safely and securely as when we had arrived, not taking part or so much as firing a single burst. When I looked back I saw a surreal portrait of conflict. Tracers, both green and red, dotted with flashes of explosions, created what looked like a patchwork of electrical charges throughout the valley below. Ground fired flares briefly lit perimeters and bright rocket flares shot from aircraft, sent broader extended balls of light floating through the smoky air on parachutes above the jungle canopy like the bright firey breath of flying dragons, delivered by our own 52nd CAB Flying Dragons. And indeed, the deadly night sky now belonged to those thunderous flying machines with names like Ghostrider and Avenger.
We returned the General and his company to II Corps with instructions to be back on the pad by 0500, predawn, the next morning. I watched them walk away from the chopper like they had just stepped off a commuter train, met by the smiling ass-kisser Captain who, holding his soft hat on against the wash of the rotor blades with his left hand, looked at us, dropped his smile and pointed skyward, twirling his right hand and index finger. Yeah right, I thought, as if we needed his damn permission to lift off. Maybe it made him feel good or look cool in front the General, or maybe he was just a shit, who knows. He had seen them off like some mother hen and now he was meeting them at the threshold after a hard day at the office. The only thing missing was the kiss on the cheek and a cocktail. I wondered how men like him slept at night, how the hell they could discard their dignity in exchange for ambition, that is if they ever had any in the first place.