VIETNAM: GROUND ZERO MOON CUSSER BY ERIC HELM

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tarzan

Copyright 1988.

A VC is using the airwaves to lure Americans into a trap. He speaks like an American and knows the radio terms that are used. They will later find American helicopter crews butchered. The survivors horribly disfigured. This is a psychological ploy to have disfigured vets come home to demoralize the war effort. He also calls down artillery strikes on American patrols. The military wants this individual stopped so Sgt. Fetterman leads the unit responsible for tracking down this VC. Meanwhile Gerber is assigned a mission to fly on a special mini-helicopter and drop homing devices so the B-52s can hit NVA troops massing at Khe Sanh.

Moon Cussers come from the nineteenth century and were unscrupulous men that would go on moonless nights with a potbelly stove. They would simulate a lighthouse and lure ships onto the rocks and then loot the cargo. They cussed the moon because they could not ply their trade when it was out. An interesting historical tidbit and explains the title. The NVA in question is a American college educated man so that is how he can speak like an American. He also has been make fun of all his life because of his short size so has a lot of axes to grind. He gets off on the power he now exercises as a NVA major. He of course finally gets his just deserts. An interesting idea for a villain and an enjoyable entry in this series.

VIETNAM: GROUND ZERO HAMLET BY ERIC HELM

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tarzan

Copyright 1988.

The hamlet of Duc Bang next to the Cambodian border is part of the new strategic village concept. The plan is to arm and train the local villagers to defend themselves. During Tet the American and ARVN troops at the hamlet are withdrawn to fight the attacks. The local VC make their move and attack finding villagers left with old obsolete WWII weapons. They kill the men and destroy the bunkers build. The high command sends Mack Gerber in to rebuild the hamlet and train the villagers. Instead he finds a demoralized population that wants nothing to do with him. Meanwhile a battalion of VC are gathering to destroy the Americans.

The action in this book takes place around the hamlet of Duc Bang. Such an obscene sounding name in English. It explores the strategic village initiative. The idea to make the Vietnamese more self sufficient in the war and not dependent on the American military. A solid plan on paper but not very successful. The local villagers bug out because they know there is an attack coming leaving the Americans all alone to face it. A general at the end brings out a Congressional delegation to show how successful the program is while withholding the basic failure. Yet he knows its a failure but continues to sell it. Vietnamization is popular and nothing is allowed to rock the boat on the concept so everyone goes about with the delusion of its success. This story illustrates the politics that interfered with sound judgement during this war. A very good story.

VIETNAM: GROUND ZERO RED DUST BY ERIC HELM

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tarzan

Copyright 1988.

After Tet the North Vietnamese are taking a more active role in the war. Men and materials continue to come down the Ho Chi Minh trail. The Americans come up with a plan to monitor the flow of supplies. They will insert teams into the north and plan tulips. These tulips are seismic sensors that will alert when there is movement so an airstrike can be launched. Captain Mack Gerber and Sgt. Fetterman are assigned to form a team and jump around the airbase at Phu Tho. After they plant the tulips the team then gets involved in taking out the personnel at the airbase to gain access to a radio to arrange a pickup.

This book I believe has a different writer. The name Eric Helm was the pen name assigned to this series. These series usually had a generic name to give the impression that they were written consistently by the same author when in fact it was usually assigned to different people. Kevin Randle was responsible for most of the books in this series. This book obviously had a different style. It had some weird touches throughout. A victorious Phantom after shooting down a MIG decides to put a sidewinder into a water buffalo. The guys find a peace activist at the base they take over and drug her up with the morphine she brought in the medical supplies so she can’t give away any information about them. The ending seemed rushed with a NVA officer who was bitter at losing his family to an bombing raid. He took out his revenge by gutting captured pilots. He is eventually stalked and disemboweled by a Bengal tiger.

Still in spite of the disjointed plot and over the top weirdness this was still an interesting book. The story was still fast paced and kept my interest.

VIETNAM: GROUND ZERO THE RAID BY ERIC HELM

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tarzan

Copyright 1988.

An Air Force recon mission shows pictures of what looks like a POW compound being build just fifty miles north of the DMZ. This seems like the enemy is daring the US to raid this compound and rescue the hostages. The decision is made to form a strike force to possibly infiltrate and rescue the POWs inside this compound. Captain Mack Gerber and Sgt. Fetterman are tasked with leading a recon mission to the compound and confirm if there are POWs being kept there. They find instead that there are Soviet Spetsnaz training North Vietnamese. The leadership decides that Soviet troop commitment to Vietnam is unacceptable. So this rescue mission now becomes a mission to go in and kill every Russian in the place.

This is the first Super Vietnam: Ground Zero book in the series. Gold Eagle loved to periodically put out these giant sized books in their series. Basically its the same series just triple the size of the regular books. The writers did a good job on this. They kept me interested in the story and I didn’t feel any padding was involved. The story went from the Air Force intelligence officers who discover the compound. To the generals in the Pentagon who plan the raid. The Colonel who assembles the force. The Spetsnaz that are training the NVA. It all comes to a exciting conclusion in the final chapter. Well done for keeping the story going for a raid that lasts for twenty-two minutes.

VIETNAM: GROUND ZERO THE IRON TRIANGLE BY ERIC HELM

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tarzan

Copyright 1988.

It is after Tet in the area northwest of Saigon known as the Iron Triangle. A company of American soldiers are stationed there. Almost all of the men and officers are drunk and high on dope. They don’t stand a chance when the VC attack and wipe them out. The high command is worried about the growing use of drugs among the soldiers. Evidence points to the VC as the culprits in flooding the market with cheap drugs. Thus Captain Mack Gerber and Sgt. Fetterman are assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division of the MPs. There job is the infiltrate the criminal element in Saigon and cut off the flow of cheap drugs.

Now Gerber is thrown into something he has no training in and seems another ill conceived plan. Still they manage to go into it with some success. With the help of their CIA friend they manage to ambush a VC payroll and launder the money in Hong Kong. With the money they get a meeting with the top drugpin and take his organization out along with the VC bringing in the drugs.

So this book deals with the drug trade during the war. Gerber is thrown into police work which is a new angle to explore the war. It is a combination police investigation, espionage and so good old action. The story takes place from the jungles of Cambodia, to Hong Kong to the streets of Saigon. I enjoyed the story. It manages to keep the series fresh with a new perspective.

VIETNAM: GROUND ZERO TET BY ERIC HELM

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tarzan

Copyright 1988.

It is Tet the Year of the Monkey. The Vietnamese New Year and there is a cease-fire. It seems that the war is winding down. There is talk of troop reductions. Captain Mack Gerber and Sgt. Fetterman are assigned to look into reports of increased VC activity in a border province. They find that the area is filled with military age men. They have the trademark whitewall haircuts the NVA uses and perfect ID cards. A killing of a Green Beret on patrol brings retaliation against the local VC leader. They retrieve plans for an attack on all the important military bases during Tet. They go back to Saigon with this information and are in time to witness the assault on the American embassy.

This book was mostly about the calm before the storm that was the Tet offensive. There were various sub-plots. A helicopter shot down and its crew having to evade the VC. The female VC agent who was part of the infamous elite C-10 sapper team that assaulted the embassy. She was seducing a Marine guard to gain intelligence on the security at the embassy. Robin Morrow the reporter who believed that something was up in spite of her editors belief that the war was basically over.

We get the feeling on an impending attack in the air throughout the story. An interesting take on this important event during the war. I was kind of surprised that this series never really did much with the actual event. Yet it did have plenty of stories before that were hinting at the offensive. I suppose there has been so much written about Tet they decided not to spend much time with it.

VIETNAM: GROUND ZERO INCIDENT AT PLEI SOI BY ERIC HELM

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tarzan

Copyright 1988.

Captain Mack Gerber and Sgt. Fetterman are assigned to investigate Special Forces camp A-337 near the tiny village of Plei Soi. Intelligence indicates a buildup of VC in the area for a possible assault. Command wants Gerber to evaluate the situation if the camp can hold or should it be abandoned. When the two arrive they find evidence of preparations for a major assault. The local villagers were recently driven off to prepare an escape route to Cambodia. Soon after monsoon rains drench the area grounding all air operations. Under cover of the weather the VC attack. Now the special forces inside the camp must hold out until help arrives.

This was an exciting story with a lot of action. The first book in the series dealt with defending a camp but this one was more exciting. The enemy actually manages to take the walls and almost completely overrun the camp. Gerber once again is disgusted with the attitude of the high command. They would rather move the camp to avoid any action when clearly the camp is a major thorn in the sides of the VC. Its impossible to fight a war when the soldiers are not allowed to engage the enemy.