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A Backseat View from the Phantom

A Memoir of a Marine Radar Intercept Officer in Vietnam

Fleet S. Lentz Jr (author)

ISBN: 9781476682075

Publication Date: Oct 2020

Format: Paperback

As a 26-year old Marine radar intercept officer, Fleet Lentz flew 131 combat missions in the back seat of the supersonic F-4 B Phantom II during the wind-down of the Vietnam War. His personal and accessible memoir describes how pilots and RIOs executed dangerous air-to-ground bombing missions in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
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  • Full Description
  • More Information
  • Table of Contents
  • Author Biography
  • Customer Reviews
As a 26-year old Marine radar intercept officer (RIO), Fleet Lentz flew 131 combat missions in the back seat of the supersonic F-4 B Phantom II during the wind-down of the Vietnam War. Overcoming military regulations, he and his fellow Marines at The Rose Garden (Royal Thai Air Base Nam Phong) kept sorely needed supplies moving in while moving combat troops out of Southeast Asia. His personal and accessible memoir describes how pilots and RIOs executed dangerous air-to-ground bombing missions in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos--quite different from the air-to-air warfare for which they had trained--and kept themselves mission-capable (and human) while surviving harsh circumstances.

Reviews

A stellar description of how it was: the boredom, odors, fear, exhilaration, and camaraderie experienced by those of us who were there."–Colonel Joseph E Rice, Junior, United States Marine Corps, Retired

"In the masterful prose of a true insider, Lentz spins a compulsively readable tale leavened with equal measures profundity, compassion, and industrial-strength Marine humor!"–Sarah Bird, author of Yokota Officers Club, Above the East China Sea and Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen

"The author describes his environment at the end of the Vietnam War in Thailand, an expeditionary base called the "Rose Garden" in intricate detail. This is the kind of book that you don't want to put down because you want to know more about it. It captures the attention of a military history buff as well as the novice because it is kept understandable while winding through the tactical level, the camaraderie and loyalty under combat conditions and the tactics, techniques and procedures in combat air operations. … [Lentz] writes in a style that brings you into the cockpit with the Pilot and Radar Interdiction Officer (RIO). After reading and understanding better about the trusted relationships that developed between the Squadron Aviators, one gets a clearer view of how these life and death relationships endure."–Daniel Schlimgen, Col. US Army, Retired
Illustrations 17 photos
Pages 229
Dimensions 229 x 152 x 7
Date Published 30 Oct 2020
Publisher McFarland
Subject/s Biography & True Stories   Military history   Vietnam War  
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgments–ix
  • Preface–1
  • Prologue: What Did You Really Do in the War, Dad?–5
  • Section One: My New World
  • 1. Going Down–11
  • 2. The Base–15
  • 3. Rules of the Road–21
  • 4. Liberty–33
  • 5. Housekeeping–38
  • 6. Staying Human–41
  • 7. Task Force Delta?–45
  • Section Two: Hops
  • 8. The Phantom, in Brief–51
  • 9. First Hop–53
  • 10. Bringing Back the Hose–60
  • 11. Silence from the Back Seat–65
  • 12. An ­Award-Winning Hop–68
  • 13. Watch Dog and Beer–71
  • 14. Night Tanking–75
  • 15. Flying in Laos–79
  • 16. The Cubi Special Missile Shoot–87
  • 17. The MiG Mystique–90
  • 18. The Bunker–95
  • 19. Frags–100
  • 20. One Wild Ride–105
  • 21. The ­Ten-Degree Run–110
  • 22. Angkor Wat?/Ankle What–115
  • 23. Drop the Hook–118
  • 24. Upside Down and Embarrassed–120
  • Section Three: Special Times, Special People
  • 25. Gracie L. Zoobreath–125
  • 26. Me and Mr. Tones–127
  • 27. Clipper Wins–137
  • 28. Christmas–143
  • 29. The Chapel–147
  • 30. The Brig–151
  • 31. The Shadow Next Door–155
  • 32. Salts–157
  • Section Four: Things Changed
  • 33. Squadron to Group–165
  • 34. Operation Sunset–176
  • Section Five: Takeaways
  • 35. Takeaways–183
  • Epilogue: Going Back–187
  • Appendix A. Map of Vietnam and Neighboring Countries–193
  • Appendix B. Glossary of Terms–194
  • Appendix C. Marine Corps Ranks–202
  • Appendix D. Brief Timeline of the Vietnam War–204
  • Appendix E. Brief History of ­VMFA-115–206
  • Appendix F. The Rose Garden's Legacy of Leadership–208
  • Appendix G. Suggested Reading and Viewing–210
  • Appendix H. Brief Career Overview–211
  • Index–213
Fleet S. Lentz, Jr., Col, USMC (Ret.) was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps in 1969 and received his wings as a Naval Flight Officer in 1971. Assigned to the Western Pacific, Lentz served in the Vietnam conflict in 1972-1973, flying 131 combat missions in the F-4B Phantom II, out of Nam Phong, Thailand, and Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam. After the war, Lentz served as executive officer VMFA-112 and commanding officer of Headquarters and Maintenance Squadron/Marine Aviation Logistics 41, both based at Navy Dallas. Lentz retired from the Marine Corps in 2000 with thirty-one years of affiliated time and 1500 hours in the F-4. He also worked for thirty-two years in civilian commercial aviation at the management and executive levels, including twenty years as North American Vice President of Volvo Aero, headquartered in Bromma, Sweden. He lives in Centennial, Colorado.

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