The inspiration for this book began, appropriately, in the cockpit. I left the Air Force a few months after returning from the Gulf, and began a flying career with Delta Air Lines. In July 1992, I flew with Delta Captain Tim Eby, and over the course of the month, we spoke at length about our past military experiences. Tim was an OV-10 FAC during the Vietnam War, and he suggested I write a book chronicling my six-month
deployment to the Middle East. I have to admit I was hesitant at first. I was trying to put the war behind me, and the last thing I wanted to do was relive the experience. Tim was persistent, though, and he convinced me that writing would heal the emotional scars I had received. Looking back, I think he was right.
Once I decided to write, I knew it would be necessary to include a historical perspective of the Middle East - most importantly, Iraq and
Kuwait. The region has been a cauldron of instability for centuries, and I knew very little about it while I was stationed in the Gulf. During my research, I was introduced to Dr. Steven Yetiv, one of the nation's leading authorities on the Middle East. Steven understood what I was trying to achieve, and offered expert advice throughout the writing. His contribution to the book is deeply appreciated.
I am also indebted to Jay Miller, a man who knows more
about aviation than anyone I have ever met. Jay, an accomplished writer in his own right, has been my mentor and adviser for the past three years. Despite a hectic schedule, he always takes the time to answer my questions or point me toward someone who can. Without his guidance and encouragement, I would have probably given up on this project shortly after I started. Another person I would like to thank is Eric Hehs, managing editor of Lockheed Martin's Code One
magazine. Jay introduced me to Eric while I was researching the history of the F-16. Eric helped me obtain the information I needed, and was more than willing to read the manuscript. He sometimes told me things I didn't want to hear, but his writing experience and editorial advice proved invaluable.
My sincerest appreciation goes to my editor, Alan Axelrod. Over the years, I have learned that to be successful - both in publishing and in life - you have to
navigate your way through minefields of individuals who don't believe in you, and who think your ideas will never work. Alan Axelrod believed in this project from the outset, and I am deeply thankful for the opportunity he gave me.
This is a book about flying, and I would be remiss if I didn't recognize the individuals who taught me the art. Drew Riolo was an early role model who instructed me on the fundamentals of flight. He convinced me that I should join the
United States Air Force, and it was the best advice I have ever been given. My T-37 instructor pilot, Jerry Corbett, and my T-38 instructor pilot, David Cohn, were selfless individuals who always demanded perfection. Two of the best, Jerry and David helped lay the foundation for my flying career. Without them, I would never have realized my full potential.
During Operation Desert Storm, Carlos "Jackal" Nejaime and I were paired together for nearly half
of our combat missions. He was always there for me, both as a pilot and a friend. Mark "Skippy" Lankford and Dion "Skull" Thorpe, two of the best "Viper drivers" in the world, read the manuscript in whole or in part and verified my explanations of F-16 weapons, systems, and tactics. Others that deserve recognition include Tim "Doc" Hursh, Mark "Stitch" Miller, Mike "Grumpy" Daniels, Randy "Roebuck" Siers,
Mike "Cookie" Cook, and Marc "Stal" Stalnaker. Their contributions helped immensely and I will always be grateful.
It would be impossible to acknowledge every individual I flew with over the years. Instead, I salute the following groups: the instructors and students stationed at Reese AFB from April 1983 to February 1988; my instructors and classmates in the 433rd TFTS at Holloman AFB during March and April 1988; my instructors and classmates in
the 310th TFTS at Luke AFB from May 1988 to January 1989; and the "Juvats" with whom I served in the 80th TFS at Kunsan AB, Republic of Korea, from February 1989 to February 1990. Whether you were a general or a young lieutenant, I want you to know that I learned something every time we flew together.
Finally, and most important of all, I would like to recognize the pilots I served with at Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates from August 1990 to March
1991. To the Black Widows, Fightin' Fuujins, and Werewolves, never forget what we accomplished together. Though years have passed, look with pride upon each other, for there was a time when we were the best fighter pilots in the world. And no one can ever take that away from us.