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The Shadow of Death

Felix Gideon Steele, III was born June 27, 1944 in Selma, Alabama where he lived until graduating High School, when in 1962 the family moved to Arizona. A er two years of college in 1964 he joined the United States Marine Corps where he spent the next five years flying helicopters. He also flew helicopters for Air America for a year a er the service. Returning to Arizona in 1971 he finished college and graduated from Arizona State University in 1975. He settled in Pinetop, Arizona in 1976 where he gained employment in the Land Surveying profession. He lives here today with his wife and teenage son and continues to work in Land Surveying. There have been many books written about the Viet Nam War covering such subjects as the ground war, the air war, the great battles and operations as well as the political aspects of the event. Over 60,000 Americans and 1.4 million Vietnamese soldiers, sailors and airmen and Marines made the supreme sacrifice during this war of insurgency. This book attempts to describe the horrors of the helicopter crews who spent most of their efforts saving lives of wounded Americans, Vietnamese, and even enemy soldiers. The author survived over 600 missions as a helicopter pilot during the period when the DMZ was being militarized and the battle of Khe Sanh, when the U. S. Marines took the area away from the North Vietnamese regulars, as well as many missions of mercy to save lives in areas where small skirmishes were the order of the day. Not many people have heard of the H-34 helicopter because the military historians have largely ignored it due to the desire of the promoters to tout the newer developments in rotary wing phenomena like the ubiquitous huey and Boeing Vertol H-46 and Chinook models. The vast majority of lives saved during the periods mentioned above were saved in the H-34 helicopter. The crews of these obsolete flying machines were some of the best men to ever come into the field of aviation.
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