A member of Light Attack Squadron 212 s "Rampant Raiders," A-4 pilot Stephen R. Gray writes about his experiences flying combat sorties from the deck of an aircraft carrier during one of the most intense periods of aerial combat in U.S. history. From the perspective of a junior naval aviator, Gray reveals the lessons he learned first at the Naval Aviation Training Command and then in actual combat flying the Skyhawk from USS Bon Homme Richard in Vietnam. Training strengthens commitment, Gray points out, allowing ordinary men like him to fly dangerous missions. Readers will discover how circumstances created heroe--heroes who managed to overcome their personal fears for a greater cause--and how, despite the lack of public support for the war, the men remained committed to one another. The book addresses how men react to service during contentious political times to offer lessons relevant today.
Stephen R. Gray earned his wings as a Naval Aviator and was commissioned an ensign, USNR on 25 June, 1966. After just six months training to fly the A-4 Skyhawk, he joined Attack Squadron 212, making two cruises to Vietnam and flying more than 250 combat missions and 300-plus carrier landings. He left active duty in 1969, flying first as a corporate civilian pilot then as a Delta Airlines pilot for thirty years. During that time he flew more than thirty different types of aircraft and accumulated more than 24,000 flying hours. Gray and his wife of 50 years live in Texas.