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.

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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.

VIETNAM: GROUND ZERO THE VILLE BY ERIC HELM

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tarzan

Copyright 1987.

Captain Jonathan Bromhead is put in charge of a mission to Laos. With two other men a Marine and Air Force sergeant with a specialty in organizing indigenous forces to defend an airfield. They are to go to a village inhabited by Meo tribesmen and arm and train them to interdict the Ho Chi Minh trail. Bromhead has some reservations about the whole mission. It seems poorly planned with vague goals. So the three are dropped off with a bunch of obsolete WWII guns. They find a people that are living in the stone age and one American woman anthropologist who is studying the village. She doesn’t want the Americans there but the Meo people are open to receiving the arms. They had been trained by the French and still remember the training. Well after some victories the village gets attacked by a force of NVA just as support for the mission is pulled.

This book is mainly focused on Bromhead who was Gerber’s executive officer back at the triple nickel. He’s been promoted and gets this boondoggle of a mission. The Meo are shown as little more than naive children with little thought for the future. You have the liberal college student thrown in to play the devil’s advocate. This story like many in the series likes to show off the ineptitude of the armchair officers sitting in air-conditioned offices that are running the war. They casually send off some men then pull the plug for political reasons and its the common soldier that pays the price. I enjoyed the new aspect of the conflict with exploring the covert war in Laos using the indigenous people. It also gives one of the minor characters his own story. Another enjoyable book in the series.

VIETNAM: GROUND ZERO GUIDELINES BY ERIC HELM

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tarzan

Copyright 1987.

The SA-2 Guideline is the standard Soviet anti-air missile used by North Vietnam. It uses radar to guide the missile which the U.S. Wild Weasel missiles can easily lock on to when the North Vietnamese radar is turned on. Now a recent report from an engagement that the North Vietnamese are using a new system that can target aircraft without using radar. This could change the air war in favor of the North. So the CIA and Air Force intelligence need a covert operation to get ahold of this new Soviet technology.

Thus Mack Gerber and Sgt. Fetterman are picked for the job. They are to pick the men they need and jump from a B-52 at thirty thousand feet into North Vietnam. There they must infiltrate a missile base and bring back the new system for study.

So this one has Gerber going into a covert operation into North Vietnam. A dangerous mission that reunites Gerber with some of the people he worked with before. There is Kit the beautiful former VC. Sgt. Krung the ethnic Tai that has a personal vendetta against the Communists for the murder of his family. He takes the genitals from those he kills and vowed to take fifty for each family member killed. He also had a big family. Some other comrades from the days at camp A-555 and a whiny Air Force technician. I enjoy the way they manage to show the stupidity of the armchair warriors who are in charge. They get further orders in the mission to go one hundred miles west to check out another base then are supposed to go to Hanoi and rescue the prisoners at the Hanoi Hilton. Needless to say they aren’t able to carry out such goofy orders. An enjoyable story and nice to see that the action is taking a more theater wide outlook.

VIETNAM: GROUND ZERO THE HOBO WOODS BY ERIC HELM

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tarzan

Copyright 1987.

It has been a year since Mack Gerber and Sgt. Fetterman left Vietnam. After training Green Beret recruits at Ft. Bragg they get reassigned to Vietnam. Things have changed since they left. For one thing the U.S. has shed its advisory role and have now taken a more active role in combat operations. They also have a lot more troops in Vietnam. So Gerber is up for being promoted to major and to head the Studies and Observation Group. The first assignment is the Hobo Woods. The Hobo Woods is a dense forested area where intelligence shows a massive buildup of a NVA division. So a reconnaissance in force is mounted to find and destroy this division. The first squad makes a landing when disaster strikes. They are ambushed with over half the choppers shot down. Now one hundred and twenty men are in danger of being overrun. The high command panics because they do not need negative publicity right now. The anti-war movement is gaining steam and the last thing needed is an engagement with massive casualties. So now Gerber is ordered to withdraw the trapped men.

So this book is taking a different direction with the series. Gerber and Fetterman will no longer be confined to camp A-555. Instead they will be based in Saigon and pretty much the entire Southeast Asian theater will be open to missions. This gives the series much more flexibility in stories that it can do. The book also does a great job of highlighting the politics of the conflict. The Johnson administration didn’t want casualties so the army was ordered not to undertake any major operations against the enemy. This left them free to build up their forces which would cause considerable problems down the road.