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War For the Hell of It: A Fighter Pilot's View of Vietnam

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Ed, "Fast Eddie," Cobleigh served two tours of duty during the Vietnam air war, logging 375 combat sorties in the F-4 Phantom fighter/bomber. In War for the Hell of It, Cobleigh shares his perspectives in a deeply personal account of a fighter pilot's life, one filled with moral ambiguity and military absurdities offset by the undeniable thrill of flying a fighter aircraft. Ed, "Fast Eddie," Cobleigh served two tours of duty during the Vietnam air war, logging 375 combat sorties in the F-4 Phantom fighter/bomber. In War for the Hell of It, Cobleigh shares his perspectives in a deeply personal account of a fighter pilot's life, one filled with moral ambiguity and military absurdities offset by the undeniable thrill of flying a fighter aircraft. With well-crafted prose that puts you into the Phantom's cockpit, Cobleigh vividly recounts the unexplainable loss of his wingman, the useless missions he flew, the need to trust his reflexes, eyesight, and aggressiveness, and his survival instincts in the heat of combat. He discusses the deaths of his squadron mates and the contradictions of a dirty, semi-secret war fought from beautiful, exotic Thailand. This is an unprecedented look into the state of mind of a pilot as he experiences everything from the carnage of a crash to the joy of flying through a star-studded night sky, from the illogical political agendas of Washington to his own dangerous addiction to risk. Cobleigh gives a stirring and emotional description of one man's journey into airborne hell and back, recounting the pleasures and the pain. the wins and the losses. and ultimately, the return.


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Ed, "Fast Eddie," Cobleigh served two tours of duty during the Vietnam air war, logging 375 combat sorties in the F-4 Phantom fighter/bomber. In War for the Hell of It, Cobleigh shares his perspectives in a deeply personal account of a fighter pilot's life, one filled with moral ambiguity and military absurdities offset by the undeniable thrill of flying a fighter aircraft. Ed, "Fast Eddie," Cobleigh served two tours of duty during the Vietnam air war, logging 375 combat sorties in the F-4 Phantom fighter/bomber. In War for the Hell of It, Cobleigh shares his perspectives in a deeply personal account of a fighter pilot's life, one filled with moral ambiguity and military absurdities offset by the undeniable thrill of flying a fighter aircraft. With well-crafted prose that puts you into the Phantom's cockpit, Cobleigh vividly recounts the unexplainable loss of his wingman, the useless missions he flew, the need to trust his reflexes, eyesight, and aggressiveness, and his survival instincts in the heat of combat. He discusses the deaths of his squadron mates and the contradictions of a dirty, semi-secret war fought from beautiful, exotic Thailand. This is an unprecedented look into the state of mind of a pilot as he experiences everything from the carnage of a crash to the joy of flying through a star-studded night sky, from the illogical political agendas of Washington to his own dangerous addiction to risk. Cobleigh gives a stirring and emotional description of one man's journey into airborne hell and back, recounting the pleasures and the pain. the wins and the losses. and ultimately, the return.

30 review for War For the Hell of It: A Fighter Pilot's View of Vietnam

  1. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Curran

    Good book telling of a F4 pilots experiences in the Vietnam war.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Louis Reichenbach

    A surprise from a guy in the sky It was good to see and hear that there were officers who felt like some of us enlisted guys that the Vietnam war was much more than just a conflict and grossly missmanaged by the powers to be in Washington in a manner that seemed to intentionally drag it out and render it unwinable.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mike Harper

    Before considering my review, know that I also was a fighter pilot in the Vietnam conflict. I read this book eagerly as I knew it would bring back memories and give me a chance to compare my experiences with the author's. Insofar as he has attempted a sort of episodic history, the author has done a good job. The descriptions of the types of missions he flew are good, with just the right amount of detail. He has also done a good job of describing a fighter pilot's attitude towards his job, his fea Before considering my review, know that I also was a fighter pilot in the Vietnam conflict. I read this book eagerly as I knew it would bring back memories and give me a chance to compare my experiences with the author's. Insofar as he has attempted a sort of episodic history, the author has done a good job. The descriptions of the types of missions he flew are good, with just the right amount of detail. He has also done a good job of describing a fighter pilot's attitude towards his job, his fears and exhilarating moments and his love for his squadron mates. Unfortunately, the author has sought to go beyond the flying and the pilot's experience. In several places, he adds essentially political comments, blaming higher-ups, especially the civilian leadership, for what he sees as foolhardy policies that precluded our winning the war. He may be right, but he's just repeating an all too familiar refrain. Also, he wastes time discussing his own salacious thoughts about the few women he met during his two years in Thailand.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    He Tells It Like It Was An honest account of those turbulent times--the young American male propelled by forces greater than personal choice gets the journeys through Dante's hell and wonders of which Dante could not conceive.... His description of Clark Air Base was so accurate--I spent two years there, same time frame--he is a great writer: I smelled that SE Asian air again, those burning palm fronds used for cooking outside the huts (too continuously hot air temp to cook inside), the smoke fro He Tells It Like It Was An honest account of those turbulent times--the young American male propelled by forces greater than personal choice gets the journeys through Dante's hell and wonders of which Dante could not conceive.... His description of Clark Air Base was so accurate--I spent two years there, same time frame--he is a great writer: I smelled that SE Asian air again, those burning palm fronds used for cooking outside the huts (too continuously hot air temp to cook inside), the smoke from the burning stubble of the cane fields, the always present scent of fermenting vegetation. And the flaming vibrational racket of those F-4 flights taking off always filling the background. What wild and crazy times!

  5. 5 out of 5

    David

    F4's are for some reason my favorite all-time fighter. I remember seeing live fire missile shots at Pt. Magu Naval Air Station. Also wild weasels out at George AFB. Anyway, this book gives you a good sense of how flying F4's was during combat. Big adrenaline rushes with emotional highs and lows of saving people and losing friends. Nighttime missions when your wingman doesn't return to easier times escorting a hercy bird 130 with Bob Hope and entourage on board! Audio version: Narrator was great!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jason Young

    Not great writing, but well told stories. You can feel where he embellishs, but he tells you in the foreword he's going to. The highs and lows feel familiar. He touches on some key points of the strategic war, but on a personal level. He relays the 'career moves' he made unabashedly but also didn't trump up his involvement in Paveway leading to Linebacker. He reuses idioms like crazy and mixes metaphors, but he gets right to the heart of his experience.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mike Wells

    Right On! Captures the thoughts, sights, sounds, and smells of being an F-4 fighter pilot during the Vietnam War. Although I was a Tanker pilot and served at the tail end of the war, I came into contact with many of this fighter pilot's contemporaries during my early AF career. This book accurately portrays the heroic day-to-day activities in a. combat fighter squadron during this war. I've heard similar stories first hand.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Robbie

    Good read. I really liked the sarcasm of Cobleigh, through his very, very unique experience in Vietnam as a fighter pilot. There was a bit of political commentary, but it wasn't annoying and actually made sense. The description of combat from the air is very exciting, especially for an aviation-nerd like me.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paul M

    If you like aircraft then read this book! Some of the in-cockpit descriptions really make you feel like you're in there. If you don't like aircraft? It won't grab you the same but there is still some more cerebral stuff about the thoughts of a US serviceman in Vietnam.

  10. 4 out of 5

    charles callaghan

    Reality This book is the best book I've read about flying during the Vietnam war. It pulls no punches about politicians and protesters either. I flew in the Korean War so this was the real stuff. Straight from the shoulder no b s stuff

  11. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Gives me an interesting perspective on my father's experience as a fighter pilot. There were parts were I could really hear him saying what was written.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ed Cobleigh

    I wrote it, so I think it's not all that bad

  13. 4 out of 5

    Regina

    ** Review of Audio Format ** 20,000 Foot View Well drawn portrait of the dirty realities of war from a fighter pilot's point of view. Fast Eddie does not like Washington bureaucrats and neither do most Vietnam Vets that I know. This is a poignant reminder of what war brings home daily. A reminder that our sons should only be sent to fight when our nation's sovereignty is at stake. A reminder that without military knowledge and experience, it is hard to know the fates you are sending your men to wh ** Review of Audio Format ** 20,000 Foot View Well drawn portrait of the dirty realities of war from a fighter pilot's point of view. Fast Eddie does not like Washington bureaucrats and neither do most Vietnam Vets that I know. This is a poignant reminder of what war brings home daily. A reminder that our sons should only be sent to fight when our nation's sovereignty is at stake. A reminder that without military knowledge and experience, it is hard to know the fates you are sending your men to when you make that fateful call to arms. It also gives you a view into the mindset of the men who get those irrational orders. If you want to feel what a dogfight sounds like read this book. My own father and father-in-law won't speak about their Vietnam experiences so books like this always intrigue me. I'm glad I listened. The narration by Eric Martin was well done and a nice addition to this material. I received this audiobook for free through Audiobook Boom! in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gabo

    This is the type of book I was looking for when I started searching for a Vietnam book of memories from a fighter pilot's perspective. Ed Cobleigh manages to transfer to the reader his thoughts, emotions and even doubts while flying his tours in Vietnam. I wouldn't recommend this book to someone looking for specific dates or chronological detailed facts. but it is definitively a must have for someone who is looking for a real recollection of missions flown in Vietnam by USAF pilots. What matters This is the type of book I was looking for when I started searching for a Vietnam book of memories from a fighter pilot's perspective. Ed Cobleigh manages to transfer to the reader his thoughts, emotions and even doubts while flying his tours in Vietnam. I wouldn't recommend this book to someone looking for specific dates or chronological detailed facts. but it is definitively a must have for someone who is looking for a real recollection of missions flown in Vietnam by USAF pilots. What matters most is that Cobleigh doesn't only cover the sorties and the constant bureaucratic nuisance of Washington, but also conveys in the atmosphere of Thailand, Laos and other South Asian places during the conflict with beautiful realism.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kmag54

    Best fighter book of dozens read. Much new knowledge. Humerous, entertaining An exceptional writer once you rise to his level. Wry, deprecating, sly, huberous, (hubris), but deeply introspective and delightful. I have not found this combination of communication in prose anywhere before. He's that good. Full of insider information I've not seen before and he describes thoughts, feelings and emotions with uncommon effect. This is as entertaining and informative and they come. Truly an interesting p Best fighter book of dozens read. Much new knowledge. Humerous, entertaining An exceptional writer once you rise to his level. Wry, deprecating, sly, huberous, (hubris), but deeply introspective and delightful. I have not found this combination of communication in prose anywhere before. He's that good. Full of insider information I've not seen before and he describes thoughts, feelings and emotions with uncommon effect. This is as entertaining and informative and they come. Truly an interesting person, experience and perspective. Anyone would enjoy this book. I have yet more appreciation for our lost -in-war and all veteran casualty and homecoming heroes that protect us with their sacred love and honor. This is a book among books, happy, funny and sad. Has it all.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Dines

    Well written, funny, irreverent, iconoclastic, by all-American sceptic. It was fun reading this insightful history of a phantom fighter pilot in Vietnam. I grew up on an Air Force Base which was a center for phantom fighter jocks in France. I have met these adrenaline junkies before and thank God that there are plenty of them around to fight our wars. Nobody likes war and killing except for a few psychopaths that never make the grade in our military. And yet, killing in war is a necessity if we Well written, funny, irreverent, iconoclastic, by all-American sceptic. It was fun reading this insightful history of a phantom fighter pilot in Vietnam. I grew up on an Air Force Base which was a center for phantom fighter jocks in France. I have met these adrenaline junkies before and thank God that there are plenty of them around to fight our wars. Nobody likes war and killing except for a few psychopaths that never make the grade in our military. And yet, killing in war is a necessity if we are to defend our beliefs and values. I know you did not get this when you came back from Vietnam while I was in graduate school, but thank you for your service.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Don Hodges

    Forthright Pilot's Diary The author served two one-year tours as an F-4 pilot based in Thailand. He has healthy reservations about Vietnam, but served honorably and with great skill in the front-line fighter of his day. He never saw an enemy airplane but not for lack of trying. Most missions were night bombing sorties on the Ho Chi Minh trail. He was early to the deployment of laser guided bombs and had great success with them. The book is not a narrative but a series of vignettes that capture th Forthright Pilot's Diary The author served two one-year tours as an F-4 pilot based in Thailand. He has healthy reservations about Vietnam, but served honorably and with great skill in the front-line fighter of his day. He never saw an enemy airplane but not for lack of trying. Most missions were night bombing sorties on the Ho Chi Minh trail. He was early to the deployment of laser guided bombs and had great success with them. The book is not a narrative but a series of vignettes that capture the author's role and the atmosphere of Thailand and the USAF at the height the war.

  18. 4 out of 5

    John

    I really enjoyed this book, normally I prefer reading books about the average soldier on the ground, as a result Cobleigh's perspective was a breath of fresh air. The book provides enough detail without being overly technical, and the other little details such as life in Thailand added to the depth of the book. I really felt drawn into the cockpit of an F-4 phantom without knowing much about the aircraft.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ken Estes

    Different View Having not read many books from the Vietnam war involving US Air Force, it was a different type of story that I read. I thank the author for his service and for writing this book. I now have a different perspective of the Air Force fighter pilot. I am sorry, for his experience with the Navy. Sad you didn't run into some of the enlisted they are a little sharper.

  20. 4 out of 5

    steven souder

    A good vision of the real war. Excitement, fear,anger and frustration, war is a young man's game. My friend Bob Boring lived in Klamath Falls OR. For years, and one day realized the F-4 mounted outside the gate at Kingsley Field was the one he flew front seat in Nam. His memories were some good and some not so good.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Victor E. Calise

    Authentic, in the cockpit detail of combat flying. Well written stories of missions and experiences during the Vietnam war. Personal feelings of the leadership (or lack thereof) from Washington and the military hierarchy not willing to prosecute the effort and win the war. Cockpit detail and flying descriptions brought back many memories for this former USN A-7E pilot. Good job Air Force guy!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Douglas E. Gillis

    Outstanding I don’t read much about Vietnam. But this book as well as “The Bright Shinny Lie” give this cannon fodder time, bodies to keep the Great Industrial Complex running and the politicians in their seats of power. Very good read from the hills of East Tennessee.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kathi Chastain

    An Eagles eye view of Vietnam Written in a style that is both amusing at times but informative. Today's leaders should read and see one mans view of trying to fight a political war and a shooting war.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Allyson

    This book about fighter pilots and some of the absurd dictates from Washington about how to fight the Vietnam war left me in shock, entranced and ready to read more from the perspective of a pilot. Kudos to Ed Cobleigh for exiting the war with grace and the wit to write this book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Craig Hoover

    I wanted some knowledge of what my father experienced while deployed in 1969. He never spoke of his job and I never asked. He died last July at age 92. Thank you to the author for a view into those times and places.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stan W King

    Enjoyable As a lowly Army FW hash and trash driver that flew the unfriendly skies of Laos working with the black ops folks l was all to familiar with many of the places Ed describes. GREAT read ....

  27. 5 out of 5

    Terence Lionel

    Great Book I enjoyed the author’s honesty about his war time service and discussions about his love life. However, he like all authors should end their books with what happened after they left the service or their current lives.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Harold Osburn

    Unique and Entertaining I enjoyed reading this book. It offers insight into the mind of Vietnam War fighter pilot. It also covers the early deployment of laser guides munitions as well as sharing several memorable and funny experiences.

  29. 4 out of 5

    James Currin

    An honest series of experiences and impressions. I enjoyed it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mary Patricia

    Interesting Writing is ok. Stories are real but not very captivating. I liked the description of Bangkok. Does nor develop other characters

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