“An extraordinary story, superbly told... I predict that
'The Rescue of Streetcar 304'
will become an instant military aviation classic."
---Stephen Coonts, 'Flight of the Intuder'
Chapter 1... (bombing mission in Laos, 1968)....
"Nail 66 was stunned. A Navy A-7 jet, call sign Streetcar 304, had just dropped four 500-pound bombs on top of Nail's designated target and was now climbing to clear the target area. Suddenly, Nail saw a large section of one of the A-7's wings blown off by enemy AAA, and now the
A-7 was falling downward at a high rate of speed... while tumbling end over end.
Nail realized instantly the A-7 had been hit by at least one of the many firing AAA guns and was severely damaged, out of control, and at such a low altitude that recovery by the pilot was impossible before impacting the ground. It was dangerously near or already below the minimum altitude for a safe pull-up.
Nail 66 shouted thru his microphone. 'You're hit, you're hit. Eject, eject'."
With those riveting words, the sage of Streetcar 304 began on 31 May 1968. It lasted for 40 hours....
The publisher, Naval Institute Press, summarizes the story:
On 31 May 1968, Lt. Kenny Fields catapulted off USS America in his A-7 Corsair II for his first combat mission. His target was in Laos, which at the time was “officially” off-limits for U.S. attacks. What the planners did not know was that Fields and his wingman were enroute to a massive concentration of AAA gun sites amidst an entire North Vietnamese division.
Fields—call sign Streetcar 304—was the first to roll in and destroyed the target with a direct hit. Three AAA guns began to fire, but, following his wingman, he rolled in again. This time many more AAA guns opened up and Fields was shot down.
'The Rescue of Streetcar 304' is Fields exhilarating narrative of the forty hour ordeal that followed, and what turned out to be one of the largest air rescues of the Vietnam War.
Fields recounts close encounters with Phatet Lao guerillas and nearly being killed time and again by friendly bombs. He describes in riveting detail the radio chatter between participants and the stress effects of coping with fear,no food, the jungle heat, wild animals, and sleep deprivation. Before it was over, the U.S. Air Force had flown 189 sorties to rescue Fields, and in the process four pilots had ejected, seven planes were lost or heavily damaged, and one pilot became a POW for over five years.
The author draws on Air Force radio logs, after-action reports, and extensive interviews with all participants—including the wives at home—to tell the story from all perspectives. The result is a gripping tale of courage and brotherhood on both battlefield and home front.
Kenny Fields was a Bombardier/Navigator in the A-3B for two deployments and then piloted A-4C and A-7A “attack” jets. During two combat tours to Vietnam he flew 139 combat missions in the A-7 over Laos, Cambodia, South Vietnam, and North Vietnam. He later served as a jet flight instructor in T-2C and TA-4J aircraft.
Kenny retired from the Navy after 22 years, 3,350 flight hours, and 475 carrier landings. Originally from West Virginia, he now lives in Mooresville, North Carolina.
Book Awards for 'Streetcar 304' ….
2008.... Naval Institute Press, “Author of the Year---2nd Place Award".
2008…. "Best selling book of the year" at the National Air & Space Museum inWashington, DC
2008…. Author was inducted into the Lincoln Memorial University “Literary Hall of Fame”.
2007…. “Ragan Old North State Award” nominee for best new non-fiction book.
E-Book Version... In addition to hardback and paperback copies, there is now an electronic version of the book available and it is "text-to-speech enabled" so that you can listen to the story being read. Review the book and download it from the following vendors:
Publisher, Naval Institute Press, at: http://www.usni.org/store/books/aviation/rescue-streetcar-304
Amazon, at: http://amzn.to/iUMkQj
Barnes&Noble, at: http://bit.ly/kDPKGv
"Streetcar 304", (Commander Kenny Fields, USNR, Retired), in front of "Streetcar 313", an A-7 Corsair II that he piloted often during two combat tours aboard USS America and USS Coral Sea. Visit the Hickory, NC Aviation Museum and you can sit in the plane's cockpit.