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Cover for The Phantom Vietnam War

The Phantom Vietnam War

An F-4 Pilot's Combat over Laos (North Texas Military Biography and Memoir Series #12)

David R. "Buff" Honodel


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David R. “Buff” Honodel was a cocky young man with an inflated self-image when he arrived in 1969 at his base in Udorn, Thailand. His war was not in Vietnam; it was a secret one in the skies of a neighboring country almost unknown in America, attacking the Ho Chi Minh Trail that fed soldiers and supplies from North Vietnam into the South. Stateside he learned the art of flying the F-4, but in combat, the bomb-loaded fighter handled differently, targets shot back, and people suffered. Inert training ordnance was replaced by lethal weapons. In the air, a routine day mission turned into an unexpected duel with a deadly adversary. Complacency during a long night mission escorting a gunship almost led to death. A best friend died just before New Year’s. A RF-4 crashed into the base late in Buff’s tour of duty.

The reader will experience Buff’s war from the cockpit of a supersonic F-4D Phantom II, doing 5-G pullouts after dropping six 500-pound bombs on trucks hidden beneath triple jungle canopy. These were well defended by a skillful, elusive, determined enemy firing back with 37mm anti-aircraft fire and tracers in the sky. The man who left the States was a naíve, self-centered young pilot. The man who came back 137 missions later was much different.

Praise For The Phantom Vietnam War: An F-4 Pilot's Combat over Laos (North Texas Military Biography and Memoir Series #12)

The Phantom Vietnam War will be the standard against which other memoirs are measured—Honodel is one hell of a good pilot and a great storyteller.”—Earl H. Tilford, author of Crosswinds: The Air Force in Vietnam

“This is an enjoyable and immensely gratifying work that adds something new to our study of the Vietnam Conflict, namely the almost totally ignored war in Laos.”—Brian Laslie, US Air Force Academy, deputy command historian NORAD, and author of The Air Force Way of War

"The Phantom Vietnam War is an extraordinary and very highly recommended addition to both community and academic library 20th Century American Military History collections in general, and Vietnam War supplement studies reading lists in particular."--Midwest Book Review

"[T]he book is a great addition to the story of the air war in Southeast Asia during 1969 and the early 1970s and of airpower's use and misuse in general."--Journal of America's Military Past

University of North Texas Press, 9781574417326, 330pp.

Publication Date: October 1, 2018

About the Author

Lieutenant Colonel DAVID R. “BUFF” HONODEL flew 4,400 hours in F-4, A-10, OV-10, and T-33 aircraft during his 22-year Air Force career. He served overseas in Korea and Germany, and flew two tours in the Vietnam War. His decorations include two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Meritorious Service Medals, and nineteen Air Medals.