Aircraft Carriers at War: A Personal Retrospective of Korea, Vietnam, and the Soviet Confrontation
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Adm. James Holloway describes this book as a contemporary perspective of the events, decisions, and outcomes in the history of the Cold War―Korea, Vietnam, and the Soviet confrontation―that shaped today's U.S. Navy and its principal ships-of-the-line, the large-deck, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. Without question, the admiral is exceptionally well qualified to write such an expansive history. As a carrier pilot in Korea, commander of the Seventh Fleet in Vietnam, Chief of Naval Operations in the mid-1970s, and then as a civilian presidential appointee to various investigative groups, Holloway was a prominent player in Cold War events.
Here, he casts an experienced eye at the battles, tactics, and strategies that defined the period abroad and at home. Holloway's first-person narrative of combat action conveys the tense atmosphere of hostile fire and the urgency of command decisions. His descriptions of conversations with presidents in the White House and of meetings with the Joint Chiefs in the war room offer a revealing look at the decision-making process. Whether explaining the tactical formations of road-recce attacks or the demands of taking the Navy's first nuclear carrier into combat, Holloway provides telling details that add valuable dimensions to the big picture of the Cold War as a coherent conflict. Few readers will forget his comments about the sobering effect of planning for nuclear warfare and training and leading a squadron of pilots whose mission was to drop a nuclear bomb.
Both wise and entertaining, this book helps readers understand the full significance of the aircraft carrier's contributions. At the same time, it stands as a testament to those who fought in the long war and to the leadership that guided the United States through a perilous period of history while avoiding the Armageddon of a nuclear war.
would be towed out of range. To pass a towline in Haiphong Harbor, at night, under an intense artillery barrage, with no air cover, would be messy at best. The chances of losing the towing ship were good, too. Other than the bombardment group, the rest of the fleet would be at least a hundred miles away. A military commander has to be prepared to accept losses during combat in wartime, but not to expose his forces to unnecessary losses. The possible gains should outweigh the probable losses.
lieutenant said that there was a secure telephone call for me from the secretary of defense and that I was to take the call on board the Second Fleet flagship—the nearest secure telephone location. I immediately went down the pier to the flagship, a heavy cruiser, and entered the secure command spaces. The call was put through to Deputy Secretary of Defense William Clements, and Clements, in his own direct fashion, told me to get the hell back to Washington as fast as I could. He said that the
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daring. Spotter pilots would often turn off their planes pressurization system (which produces a noisy rush of air in the cockpit) so that the sound of gunfire from the ground could be heard clearly. This could sometimes be the best indication of enemy activity along the route, troops taking cover along the side of the road and firing their rifles. The heavier flak showed up as tracers, which were clearly visible in the shadow of the valleys. It was difficult, though, to follow the tracers to
medical officer on board a nuclear-powered submarine. He seemed to me to be a likely candidate until I witnessed the following exchange. “Were you married going through medical school?” Rickover asked. “Yes,” the lieutenant answered. “Are you still married?” “Yes.” “To the same woman?” “No.” “Did your first wife pay your way through medical school?” Rickover asked. “Yes,” said the lieutenant. “That’s all, you are excused.” After the doctor left, Rickover looked over at me and said,