The following review was published in the Winter 1999 edition of AEROSPACE POWER JOURNAL:
Aerospace Power Journal - Winter 1999
by Dr. David R. Mets
Maxwell AFB, Alabama
I approached this book with a good deal of anticipation because I share something with Keith
Rosenkranz. We both found the defining moments of our professional careers in the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing. But the commonality ends about there. I had been a squadron commander of an AC-130 unit in the 388th overseas two generations before he returned from Korea to join it as an F-16 "Viper" pilot at Hill AFB, Utah. He had been back with his young family for only six weeks when the 388th deployed to the Middle East for the Gulf War. His defining moment
was flying combat in that conflict.
Keith Rosenkranz lends some substance to Carl Builder's assertion that Air Force people are in love with their toys - fascinated by flying but not much interested in war. That was just his initial motivation, however. He was brought up in sight of the great airports of southern California and from the earliest times envisioned himself as a flyer - but a flyer of the great jet airliners. Educated at Loyola Marymount University,
he entered the Air Force in the early 1980s intent on becoming a KC-10 pilot in anticipation of a career in commercial aviation. He was temporarily diverted to being an instructor in the T-38, still intending to enter the world of heavy jets later on. But along the way, his colleagues sold him on going into fighters, and he wound up in F-16s in Korea. He married a lady, also from southern California, and they had twin girls before he left. Rosenkranz's book is very
well written, but his acquisition of writing skills is not apparent. He acknowledges important help in the editing, which also is well done. My only complaint is that the penuriousness of the publisher resulted in such small type that the eyes of this ancient aviator were sorely challenged.
Vipers In The Storm
yields a microview - a cockpit view of the war. I do believe that such a view is most valuable because the market is awash with studies focused on the strategic and grand-strategic levels. Too, a cynic might sometimes think that the ingenuity of crew dogs like Rosenkranz and his colleagues sometimes rescues an operation otherwise doomed to disaster by inept strategy. However, the victorious strategists most often write the history, assuming the victory could arise only from a sound plan rather than from pure good fortune or the like. So the view from the trenches of air war is a useful one, and the author does not seem to have any particular reverence for leadership. The greater part of it he sees as good, but he is not very reluctant to voice a contrary opinion.
Vipers In The Storm
was interesting reading to me. However, it does go through the war experience, mission by mission, in great detail for every sortie, and some readers may grow weary of this. Rosenkranz also gives more of the personal side of air war and deals quickly with more of the sentimental and ideological things than is often the case in war stories. Probably that is worthwhile reading for Air Force leaders because it would help explain how an officer whose defining experience is flying fighters could nonetheless leave the Air Force for the dreary world of airline flying. Even in the absence of the alluring airline salaries, the operations tempo in the flying units has become so intense that it has to be a major negative factor. Certainly it was for this diarist.
There is a sea of Gulf War literature that could dominate the air warrior's/scholar's professional studies to the exclusion of everything else. Vipers In The Storm
has the misfortune of appearing simultaneously with at least two other books that would take a higher place on your reading list. The first is Every Man A Tiger, and the other is Edward J. Maraldo and Robert J.
Schneller's Shield and Sword: The United States Navy and the Persian Gulf War. But if you can find the time, Rosenkranz's book is highly readable and technically accurate, yielding a worthy view of life in the
trenches of a modern wing not too different from the envisioned Air Expeditionary Force.
The following article ran in the NEWS DAILY of Jonesboro, Georgia, the DAILY HERALD of McDonough, Georgia, as well as the ATLANTA AIRPORT NEWSPAPER (May 10, 1999 editions):
What To Know
Keith Rosenkranz, a former F-16 fighter pilot, will
be signing books at Barnes & Noble Southlake on Sunday, May 16, from 2 to 4 p.m. You can find out more about his book, Vipers in the Storm, on the web at www.vipersinthestorm.com.
When Keith Rosenkranz was in high school, he would spend many lunch hours in front of a window overlooking Los Angeles International Airport, watching airplanes take off and land.
Fifteen years later, Rosenkranz, now a pilot for Delta Air Lines, took off on his first flight from LAX. In
his field of view was the same window he'd spent so many hours in front of.
"I got chills," he said. "I knew I had achieved my goal."
But Rosenkranz has achieved more than just a successful career in the airline world. Before he moved into the cockpit of Delta's 727s, he flew F-16 fighters in the Gulf War, chalking up 30 successful missions.
Rosenkranz, 39, an articulate and engaging man, has written a book about his experiences. His book, Vipers in the Storm,
first appeared in bookstores in March and has sold briskly since the war in Kosovo spurred reader interest.
The book is a harrowing moment-by-moment memoir of what it's like to fly in 1990s-style aerial combat. It combines enough detail about military hardware to satisfy Tom Clancy-reading technophiles with the very real emotional struggles of a pilot separated by war and duty from a wife and family.
Publishers Weekly calls it a "first-rate memoir" that "bridges the gap" between
the technical details of air combat and the personal reflections of someone going through it.
In some ways, the book owes its existence to Rosenkranz's twin daughters, Candice and Kristen. Rosenkranz kept detailed documents of his time in the Persian Gulf so that his girls would know "what their daddy did," said Colette Rosenkranz, his wife.
"Keith always thought that it was for the girls," she added.
Rosenkranz didn't get to spend much extended time with his family until after
the Gulf War. Soon after the girls were born, he found that his first F-16 assignment would be in Korea, without his family.
That one-year assignment stretched into 16 months when other training assignments were tacked on. A few months later, the Gulf War snatched him away again.
Vipers in the Storm
is built upon some 90 letters Keith wrote to his wife and daughters, as well as in-cockpit footage and a meticulously detailed diary. But it didn't turn into a manuscript until after Rosenkranz spent about a month flying with Tim Eby, now a 767 captain.
"I didn't have any clue whether he could write it or not, but I thought it would do him good to put it on paper," said Eby, a veteran who flew OV-10 missions in the Vietnam War.
So Rosenkranz decided to write the book as "therapy,"
figuring that at the very least, he would have something for his family and friends to read. Rosenkranz held little back emotionally, writing about the gut-wrenching feelings that result from long separations from loved ones, and the tension and morale struggles that surrounded the military build-up before the war.
That a combat pilot would put so much of his emotional life on paper is remarkable, Eby said.
"Most fighter pilots would rather get drunk and set their hair on fire than
share some of that kind of stuff," he said.
The book was also a forum for some grappling with the tough issues war inevitably raises. You may be serving your country, but you're also killing people, Rosenkranz said.
Rosenkranz noted that while the students who opened fire in Columbine High School in Colorado would be forever vilified, he is constantly congratulated as a hero after killing hundreds of people.
"War takes a part of your heart away," he added.
Though he has
received numerous military honors, was awarded Top Gun in F-16 fighter training, and had 10 Maverick missile kills on Iraq's infamous "Highway of Death," Rosenkranz insists that he's not a hero. The beauty of the book is that ordinary people can experience the air war through his eyes, he said.
Rosenkranz said he could identify with the pilots who were now flying their first "live" missions over Kosovo.
"The first few missions, I don't care if you're the best pilot in the world,
…you're going to be terrified," he said. Terrified, not because of a lack of preparation, but from the "fear of the unknown," he said.
Soon people will be able to do more than just read about Rosenkranz's F-16 sorties. He's now working on putting the footage from his Heads Up Display on his web site (www.vipersinthestorm.com), so readers can see it more directly. The object, he said, is to make the book "come alive."
While Rosenkranz is obviously most happy when he's
accomplishing something, his wife said she has to encourage him to slow down and enjoy his current success.
"I want him to savor and enjoy it," she said. "I don't want him to feel he has to work too hard."
From THE GRAPEVINE SUN
April 22, 1999 edition
Pilot shares experiences in Gulf War
The moment when Grapevine resident Keith Rosenkranz
lined up a truck in his sights while piloting an F-16 fighter in the Persian Gulf War was the first time he knew with certainty that one of his bombs would bring about the death of another human being.
That experience and others like it are among the events from 109 combat flying hours chronicled by Rosenkranz in his book, "Vipers In The Storm: Diary Of A Gulf War Fighter Pilot," which was recently published by McGraw-Hill. The title comes from the name used by fighter
pilots for the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
Rosenkranz said the knowledge that at least one man would die from his bombs was tough to take, but he carried out the mission. Most missions, he added, weren't that emotional. "There is a certain comfort level when you are at medium altitude and you see a puff of smoke and you go back to the base. You feel comfortable with that," he said.
Rosenkranz kept a journal of his experiences between January 1991 and the last day of
the Gulf War - the last day he ever flew an F-16. He went home immediately after the war ended. Other material for the book came from 90 letters that he and his wife wrote to each other while he was based at Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, video recordings of his missions, and newspaper articles.
"I think this is the first book to capture the air war (in Operation Desert Storm)," he said, adding that he wanted to tell the Gulf War story from a
first-person perspective. "I was just an average person, so don't paint me out to be a hero," he said. "I didn't win the Congressional Medal of Honor or anything."
Rosenkranz was awarded four Air Medals, three Commendation Medals, two Aerial Achievement Medals, National defense Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal (awarded by Kuwait) and the Air Force Achievement Medal. His unit, the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, received three Outstanding Unit Awards,
including one with Valor.
Rosenkranz joined the Air Force in 1983. He was top graduate in each stage of his training - pilot instructor training in 1984, lead-in fighter training in 1988, and F-16 fighter training in 1988. He was also named Top Gun in F-16 fighter training in 1988.
When Rosenkranz flew an F-16 for 17 hours from the United States to the United Arab Emirates, with many air refuelings along the way, he had never experienced real combat. He said he
identifies with pilots who are flying combat missions into Serbia now. "It doesn't matter what war you are in, your first few missions in war - you are going to be scared. I don't care how good a pilot you are," he said.
There are many atrocities in the world, but the United States has to pick its fights selectively, and the war against Iraq was a good reason, Rosenkranz said. "We have to realize that a good part of this was about oil," he said.
"People ask why we don't do this for an African country. But when you have 30 or 40 percent of the world's oil, it is in the national interest."
Rosenkranz said after the war he wanted to come home to be with his wife Colette. Keith and Colette have twin daughters, Candice and Kristen, who were 3 during the Gulf War and are now 10. "I decided to make a clean break from the Air Force and fly for Delta," he said.
Rosenkranz was hired by Delta, where he
now flies 727s. He said flying for an airline allows him to spend more time with his family. He and his family moved to Grapevine in the fall of 1991.
From THE FORT WORTH STAR TELEGRAM
April 11, 1999 edition
Grapevine pilot shares memories of Operation Desert Storm
by Kristi O'Flaherty
Operation Desert Storm, once begun, was declared a success by the Allied forces after 43 days in the Persian Gulf. For Grapevine resident Keith Rosenkranz, it would take more than eight years for his story of those 43 days to reach the public.
In his recently released book, Vipers in the Storm: Diary of a Gulf War Fighter Pilot
, Rosenkranz chronicles the inner struggle of a man separated from his family -- torn between duty to his country and personal needs -- and the joyous triumph of American military air power.
It was a story Rosenkranz needed to tell for his own sense of closure to what he describes as the defining point in his life.
"The war takes away a part of you that you can never regain," he said. "I couldn't go without thinking day after day after day about the war and the
things I'd been through."
Left with a burden of guilt for the death of countless Iraqi soldiers, Rosenkranz struggled to make peace with his time in combat while moving on with his life.
It was the twist of fate that paired Rosenkranz, now a pilot with Delta Air Lines, with Delta Captain Tim Eby that led to the creation of the book. Rosenkranz credits his fellow pilot for inspiring him to begin writing.
Eby, a forward air controller during the Vietnam War, recognized the
emotional scars brought about by combat and encouraged Rosenkranz to write his story.
"Some things never change and some things changed a lot," Eby said. "The effect of combat on a person is pretty much, basically the same. It doesn't matter what war it is."
Even with Eby's persistence, Rosenkranz hesitated to relive his experience. He just wanted to put it all behind him, he said. Eby,
however, kept pushing, knowing that there were great details in the journal Rosenkranz kept throughout the Gulf War.
"He had more than just his memory to rely on," he said. "(And) I had time to beat on him until he started writing."
Just as the idea began to take hold in his mind, Rosenkranz said, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf's book was released. The first three-quarters of the book were about Schwarzkopf's life and that was fine, Rosenkranz said,
but the last quarter made it sound as if the Army had won the war -- and that rubbed him the wrong way.
With the naive optimism of one who knows nothing about the publishing world, Rosenkranz walked into an editor's office at Bantam-Doubleday in New York and began to pitch his idea for the book. He was advised to put together a proposal and send it to prospective publishers.
Interest in the Gulf War had diminished by the time his proposal reached
the publishers, and Rosenkranz received rejection after rejection.
In another fateful turn, however, the pilot was introduced to Alan Axelrod who gave him a $15,000 advance, based on the first ten chapters, to write his book for Turner Publishing.
In February 1996, Rosenkranz began dedicating every waking moment to writing and finished two days before his deadline in December. The book was to hit the shelves by April 1997 and he was thrilled to tell friends and
family that his story would finally be in print. It had taken nearly two years of writing and refining to complete the first draft of the manuscript.
Everything seemed to be falling into place for the first-time writer.
But a merger between Time Warner and Turner Publishing in February 1997 brought the whole process to a stop. Not only was the book's future put on hold, Rosenkranz' contract with Turner Publishing gave the company exclusive rights to the book for 18 months.
Having to explain to all those friends and family over and over why they couldn't find his book was frustrating for Rosenkranz, who had no choice but to wait a year before he could try to sell his book again.
It wasn't be the first time Rosenkranz had to persevere to reach his goals.
As a young boy, flying airplanes became an obsession for the California native. Airplanes seemed to be everywhere. Outside his home, Rosenkranz could watch the planes come and go from Santa Monica
Airport. From his high school in Playa Del Ray, Calif., he could watch 747s fly in over the ocean. There were no limits to his dream of becoming an airline pilot.
"When I was in high school, I'd lie to the flight attendants and tell them `My uncle just got off the plane. Can I go see the cockpit?' "
Once inside, Rosenkranz would talk to the pilots and ask what he needed to do to become a pilot himself.
In 1978, the Air Force launched its new KC-10 tanker and, knowing the military was his best path into the airlines, Rosenkranz determined he would one day fly the KC-10. His schedule was tight as he went to Long Beach State University, worked weekends at Safeway grocery store and attended ROTC training classes for half a day each Saturday.
Through it all, Rosenkranz saved his money and took private pilot lessons
every chance he could. He received his license at age 23 after three years of training, and completed his college degree the same year. His dream of flying the KC-10 looked like it was about to become reality as Rosenkranz signed a commission with the Air Force and he and wife, Colette, packed up and moved to Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock for pilot training.
The series of events that followed led the new Air Force officer away from
the tanker and into the F-16 Fighting Falcon, separated him from his wife and twin daughters, Candice and Kristen, for two years and launched him into the middle of a war.
Although the combat time was exciting -- his 30 combat missions are detailed throughout the book -- the time away from his family, lack of strong leadership and an immediate downsizing of the military after the Gulf War gave Rosenkranz the incentive to pursue his career with the airlines
immediately after his return from the Persian Gulf, he said.
In July 1991, Rosenkranz moved his family to Grapevine and took a job with Delta Air Lines.
It was while on a seven-month furlough with Delta that Rosenkranz actually began putting pen to paper to tell his story.
"My attitude was that the worst thing that could happen was that I'd have a nice manuscript for my family and friends to read," he said.
Retired Lt. Col. John Chambers, who retired from the Air Force just prior to the Gulf War and was Rosenkranz's squadron commander during flight training in Lubbock, is just one of the friends who has read the book.
"It fascinates me, but my husband's just enthralled because he missed the Gulf War," said Chambers' wife, Jo. "We watched him (Rosenkranz) go through his ups and downs (to get published.) It's been really fascinating to watch the process."
Although it took extreme patience and continued belief in his project, Rosenkranz said he never considered giving up. He also has never considered giving up flying to become a writer.
"This was non-fiction and I lived it," he said. "I want to ride this wave and enjoy this. I would never quit flying for Delta."
Rosenkranz insists that he's not a hero. He just wants to tell the story of
his experience in the cockpit of a modern American warplane. His dedication to his dreams, however, could be considered an inspiration.
"Over the years," he writes, "I've 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."
From THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS
April 4, 1999 edition
The Night Sky:
Gulf War account gives different slant
to tales of fighter pilots' daring
by Calvin L. Christman
Almost since the Wright brothers flew on those wind-swept dunes of Kitty
Hawk, N.C., children have dreamed of being pilots, especially fighter pilots.
In the years after World War II, my buddies and I devoured tales of the great war in the air and the aces who fought it. With such books as Robert Johnson's Thunderbolt, Saburo Sakai's Samurai and Adolf Galland's The First and the Last, I could imagine myself in the cockpit, diving out of the sun, catching the enemy plane with a few brief, well-placed bursts of
machine-gun fire and watching it shudder, then smoke and finally dive to the earth in flames.
Keith Rosenkranz of Grapevine, author of Vipers in the Storm, had many of those same dreams, but in his case, they became reality. Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1960s and '70s, he paid for flight lessons while in college, then completed his dream by joining the Air Force ROTC. After he finished his flight training, he became an instructor pilot. His next
assignment put him in the cockpit of the F-16, the Air Force's top single-engine fighter plane. Although the Air Force officially designates the plane the "Fighting Falcon," pilots call it the "Viper."
When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990, Mr. Rosenkranz (call sign "Rosey") began a personal odyssey, a journey his chronicle relates with clarity, vigor and candor. He and his squadron were among the
first to deploy to the Persian Gulf, arriving at Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates on Aug. 30, 1990.
As a result, he was in a position to give a fighter pilot's perspective on the Gulf War from buildup to stand-down. In the process, he flew 30 combat missions, including a final one on the last night of the war along the horrific "highway of death" that stretched northward from Kuwait City toward Iraq.
Flown mostly at night, the missions were far different from what my friends and I had considered in childhood. With today's technology and equipment, fighter missions impose a level of skill and attention far beyond what was demanded of yesterday's pilots. Even with the author's considerable effort at clarity and accuracy, including an excellent appendix of terms and acronyms, I occasionally had to read passages a second
time to appreciate fully what was really happening as man and machine merged as one in an intricate ballet of beauty and death.
Vipers in the Storm is the first in a series of books to be published by Aviation Week, the magazine long considered the bible of the aviation industry. It is an auspicious start, for Mr. Rosenkranz's memoir presents a vivid, honest and exhilarating cockpit view of the Gulf War. Both Rosey and Aviation Week are on target.
Calvin L. Christman, Ph.D., is the editor of America at War and Lost in the Victory. He teaches military history at both Cedar Valley College and the University of Texas at Dallas. In July he will lead a tour of the Normandy invasion beaches of World War II.
From THE FORT WORTH STAR TELEGRAM
February 28, 1999 edition
CLEAR VIEW FROM THE COCKPIT
GULF WAR FIGHTER PILOT SCORES A DIRECT HIT
by Frank Perkins
Ever wonder what it was like to be in the cockpit of a Fort Worth-built F-16 during the Persian Gulf War, rolling in at 540 knots from 20,000 feet to
leave one of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's tank columns exploding like a string of firecrackers from your cluster bombs?
You can get a very vivid idea of that feeling by reading Vipers In The Storm: Diary Of A Gulf War Fighter Pilot by former Air Force Capt. Keith Rosenkranz, now a first officer for Delta Air Lines flying out of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. He lives in Grapevine with his wife and children.
Rosenkranz flew 30 missions - many at night - against Iraqi targets during the 1990-91 gulf war aboard an F-16 Fighting Falcon, known to its pilots as "The Viper."
His "in the cockpit" book about this experience is the first offering of McGraw-Hill's new Aviation Week Books imprint.
The 325-page book, with an introduction by former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, deserves a place in any library because it gives the
groundbound an airman's straightforward view of that war. Vipers is written in a clear, no-nonsense style; Air Force jargon is incorporated in the narrative so smoothly that few thumbings of the book's glossary are needed.
Illustrations add faces to the radio call signs that readers will soon learn to recognize as the narrative unfolds.
The laconic conversations during the missions are taken from the actual
tapes made during the flights. One of the most poignant segments captured by Rosenkranz's cockpit recorder is the struggle of a pilot from another squadron to keep his Viper flying after it was hit by a Scud missile. [Note: Aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air SAM missile.]
The pilot calls describe his battle to keep the dying F-16 in the air long enough to make the 240-odd miles back to his base. Halfway home, he must eject.
"That's all I've got, guys. I'm outta here," he signals. The pilot was never found. [Note: Pilot was actually captured and detained as a POW until the end of the war, after which he returned to the United States.]
"I'll remember that moment for as long as I live," Rosenkranz writes.
Once Rosenkranz's combat assignments shift from bombing buildings and ammo dumps to attacking Iraq military vehicles, his war takes on a more
human face, and his cool professionalism is tempered with the knowledge that his bull's-eyes now mean that people die.
Throughout Viper, Rosenkranz comes across as an ethical, religious man. He closes out his history with this heartfelt paragraph:
"The war stole a part of my life that can never be replaced, and left me with a burden of guilt that will remain in my heart forever," he writes. "I feel
compassion for the people of Iraq, and I feel bad for any added suffering I might personally have caused them."
From KIRKUS REVIEWS
January 15, 1999 edition
VIPERS IN THE STORM:
Diary of a Gulf War Fighter Pilot
Rosenkranz gives a personal account of his career as a pilot of the F-16
fighter plane (nicknamed the "Viper") and his experiences in combat during Operation Desert Storm.
Rosenkranz begins his story with a training exercise in the US that is interrupted with news of the Iraqi buildup along Kuwait's border. From there, the story escalates as rumors of his unit's possible deployment are heard. Rosenkranz deftly tells of his own mixed feelings about possible combat - on one hand, excitement, as this is the mission he has been
training for, on the other hand, apprehension about leaving his wife and twin infant daughters. Interjected into the narrative is a thumbnail history of the nation of Iraq, the Iran-Iraq war, and the regime of Saddam Hussein, which provides invaluable background for the story (and for more current events). Rosenkranz offers a near-epic account of the flight of his unit (it took 17 hours and 10 aerial refuelings) to their station in the United Arab Emirates.
The tale's high point, however, is not the combat itself, but rather the anticipation of combat as President Bush and the UN coalition drew the line in the sand and waited for Iraq to back down. Rosenkranz describes with insight and clarity the feelings of men who have been trained to fight a war but have never done so, and the intense feelings that built up among the aircrews as they sat in the hot desert waiting for war.
Despite the surprisingly cliched accounts of aerial combat (which sound like they're straight out of Top Gun), Rosenkranz (who works today as a commercial pilot) paints a vivid picture of an airman's service in the last Gulf war. Former secretary of defense Dick Cheney contributes a foreword. 25 illustrations.
From PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
January 4, 1999 edition
by John F. Baker
'Top Gun' Talks
At a time of renewed tension in the Persian Gulf, a reminder of the last
full-scale war there is on the way from an unlikely source: McGraw-Hill, known mostly for business and professional books. The publisher has bought world rights to the story of Keith Rosenkranz, a "Top Gun" F-16 fighter pilot who flew 30 successful missions during the Gulf War. His book, Vipers In The Storm: Diary Of A Fighter Pilot, is the first title in McGraw-Hill's new Aviation Week Books imprint, and has been put on an
accelerated schedule for publication next month. The agent was Chris Calhoun of Sterling Lord Literistic, and the book's editor is Shelley Carr. The much-decorated Rosenkranz is now a pilot with Delta Air Lines.
From PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
January 4, 1999 edition
VIPERS IN THE STORM:
Diary of a Gulf War Fighter Pilot
Air operations in the Gulf War of 1990-1991 have most frequently been either the subject of theoretical analysis or presented from a cockpit
perspective. This first-rate memoir bridges the gap, telling the story of life in a front-line squadron while integrating a first-person account into the wider contexts of modern air warfare. Rosenkranz was a captain flying Vipers out of Al Minhad, United Arab Emirates. He takes his readers through the autumn buildup; his own questions about what it meant to kill people; the importance of mail from home; the constant waiting for a call
that finally came on the night of January 18, 1991. He conveys the irony of men trained for years in air-to-air combat being committed to ground strikes - the most dangerous kind of mission for an F-16. Rosenkranz flew against Baghdad, against Iraqi troops and tanks before the ground war started, and against the fugitives fleeing from Kuwait City along "Hell's Highway." He emphasizes the synergy of modern electronics and human
skills required when seeking out small targets while running a gauntlet of anti-aircraft fire. He also establishes beyond question that, talk of "smart weapons" to the contrary, his was not a "technowar" of smoothly pushed buttons. Bombs failed to explode. Target information was incomplete. The sky remained unforgiving of mistakes. Rosenkranz accepted the legitimacy of America's commitment in the Gulf, but neither he nor his
squadron mates were happy warriors. They were professionals who wanted to do their jobs and go home alive - in that order.