Eileen Bjorkman

I tell veterans' stories.

The Son Tay Raiders: A Quest to Leave No One Behind

The Son Tay Raiders: A Quest to Leave No One Behind
Nov 21, 2020 by Eileen Bjorkman
Today is the 50th anniversary of the Son Tay Raid, a mission to rescue American POWs held in a prison camp at Son Tay, North Vietnam. After months of planning, the raiders launched late on November 20, 1970 under cover of darkness. It was truly a joint operation. Air Force MC-130 Combat Talon aircraft led helicopters carrying 56 Army special operators across the border and back again. Other Air Force aircraft provided armed escort and top cover against North Vietnamese fighters while Navy aircraft launched from three carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin to provide a diversionary feint near Haiphong Harbor. Unfortunately, the POWs at Son Tay had been moved several months earlier, so no one was rescued. However, from an operational perspective, the mission was successful, and it formed a blueprint that is still used for special operations planning.

I had originally planned to include the Son Tay Raid in my current book, Unforgotten in the Gulf of Tonkin: A Story of the U.S. Military's Commitment to Leave No One Behind, but the book took a different direction as I wrote it. It seems that many people have forgotten about the raid, so with the 50th anniversary approaching, I pitched an article to the editor of Vietnam magazine.

Unforgotten in the Gulf of Tonkin Released Today!

Unforgotten in the Gulf of Tonkin Released Today!
Sep 01, 2020 by Eileen Bjorkman
Unforgotten in the Gulf of Tonkin: A Story of the U.S. Military's Commitment to Leave No One Behind was officially released today by Potomac Books. It's been an exciting day! In addition to the book launch, I also had an excerpt from the book appear on Time.com, titled "The Tragic Mid-Air Plane Crash That Changed the American Aviation Industry Forever." 

The book is available on Amazon and other booksellers. Potomac Books is offering 40% off with discount code 6AF20: https://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/potomac-books/9781640121911/

If you want to hear more about the book in general, you can listen to last week's Aviation Geeks podcast here: http://www.airplanegeeks.com/2020/08/26/618-leave-no-one-behind/. I have a speaking part in various parts of the podcast, but I focus on the book at about 35:00 to 47:00.

If you're interested in reading more about how the manuscript for the book evolved as I did my research over the past few years, check out my blog post on the UNP website, scheduled to be posted on Sept 3: https://unpblog.com/

Book Trailer for "Unforgotten in the Gulf of Tonkin"

Jul 25, 2020 by Eileen Bjorkman
Just a quick update. The book trailer for Unforgotten in the Gulf of Tonkin: A Story of the U.S. Military's Commitment to Leave No One Behind, is now available at Watch the book trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7sO_F_w20w.

Also, Amazon will be shipping the book beginning the second week in August. https://www.amazon.com/Unforgotten-Gulf-Tonkin-Militarys-Commitment/dp/1640121919

Richard T. Kight, Father of U.S. Air Force Search and Rescue

Richard T. Kight, Father of U.S. Air Force Search and Rescue
Jul 18, 2020 by Eileen Bjorkman

One of the most interesting aspects of writing narrative nonfiction for me is doing the research. I love to “meet” new people and read their fascinating stories. But the downside is I always have large amounts of compelling material that I don’t have room for in my magazine articles and books.

One of the characters I came across in researching my current book, Unforgotten in the Gulf of Tonkin: A Story of the U.S. Military’s Commitment to Leave No One Behind, is Colonel (later Brigadier General) Richard T. Kight, who commanded the Air Rescue Service beginning in 1946, when the U.S. Air Force was still part of the U.S. Army. During World War II, the U.S. military developed search and rescue capabilities—aircraft, equipment, and trained aircrews—but after the war, the army, navy, and even the coast guard squabbled over who would take on the mission. Finally, on March 13, 1946, the U.S. Army Air Forces established the Air Rescue Service, which was intended to provide world-wide search and rescue capabilities.

Welcome to My Blog

Welcome to My Blog
May 10, 2020 by Eileen Bjorkman
I'll be blogging periodically about subjects related to my books. My focus will be on telling stories about veterans, military history, and aviation history, especially that related to flight testing, military aircraft, and homebuilt aircraft. I'm aiming for original content, but will sometimes provide an excerpt from one of my books or previously published articles, especially if I have some photos to include that I haven't posted before.

I've been interviewing people for my articles and books for nearly a decade, and I've heard so many great stories, mostly from veterans, that I haven't been able to tell for various reasons. Sometimes a story is too long for an article, or it doesn't fit within the context of the article I'm working on. In other cases, I simply don't have room in 2,500-3,000 words for every anecdote I'm told. And in other cases, I'm just overwhelmed by the number of people who want me to interview them! That happened a few years ago when I was working on an article about the RF-4C tactical reconnaissance aircraft; dozens of former pilots, weapon systems officers, and maintaintenance personnel called or emailed me wanting to tell their stories. I'm planning to post some of those stories here.

I'm always on the lookout for new stories! Please let me know if you have a great story you'd like told or if you have an idea for a topic you'd like covered. You can reach me at my "Contact" page.