The journal that serves as the cornerstone for this book was written approximately one year after I returned from Southeast Asia at the end of October, 1972. Serving as the bases for the journal was the combat mission log which I completed following each combat mission and my "Pilot's Flight Logbook" in which I kept mission notes in addition to the standard entries of aircraft tail number flown, bases of departure and arrival, and flying time.
Even after a year, the details for some of the missions faded from my memory. For other missions however, the missions were recalled as if they were flown that very day. In fact, those details remain with me to this very day and will not leave until I leave this earth. I believe it is the same for all the countless numbers of people who have experienced traumatic, life threatening situations, whether it be an automobile accident or a combat experience- whether on the ground or in the air as a pilot.
During stressful situations, time seemed to slow down, perhaps so that the person remembered every minute detail of the event. This I feel is a survival response. Since each action taken could have life or death repercussions, time was slowed to allow the best chance of optimum performance. Right or wrong, it is what I believe.
Each of the 138 combat missions I flew in the A-1 Skyraider is written about (and posted to the internet) on the 26th anniversary date of its occurrence. If you are reading this before October 1, 1998, you will be reading a "work in progress."This began as a "25th Anniversary Journal" back in July of 1997 when it first appeared on the Internet, but by then nearly two thirds of my missions were behind me. In order to present the complete picture, I began again, with the posting of my first combat mission (30 October 1971) on 30 October 1997, 26 years after it was flown.
I am not proud of some of the things I now read in my journal. But, they were written, and I pass them on here. War is truly hell, and I live with these actions to this day. I also feel immensely proud of other missions however, and these more than offset those I would rather forget. This I truly believe.
My comments in the journal were concise, sometimes harsh and critical, but always what I felt at the time. A fighter pilot is a complicated individual. As it says on the front page of the River Rats website, "If you don't know who the worlds greatest fighter pilot is, then you are not him."
Byron E. Hukee