• Da Nang Diary

  • A Forward Air Controller's Gunsight View of Flying with SOG
  • By: Tom Yarborough
  • Narrated by: Sean Runnette
  • Length: 15 hrs and 14 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (384 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Da Nang Diary is the story of how, in Vietnam, an elite group of Air Force pilots fought a secret air war in Cessna 0-2 and OV-10 Bronco prop planes - flying as low as they could get. The eyes and ears of the fast-moving jets who rained death and destruction down on enemy positions, the forward air controller made an art form out of an air strike - knowing the targets, knowing where friendly troops were, and reacting with split-second, life-and-death decisions as a battle unfolded.

The expertise of the low, slow FACs, as well as the hazard attendant to their role, made for a unique bird's-eye perspective on how the entire war in Vietnam unfolded. For Tom Yarborough, who logged 1,500 hours of combat flying time, the risk was constant, intense, and electrifying. A member of the super-secret "Prairie Fire" unit, Yarborough became one of the most frequently shot-up pilots flying out of Da Nang - engaging in a series of dangerous secret missions in Laos. In this work, the listener flies in the cockpit alongside Yarborough in his adrenaline-pumping chronicle of heroism, danger, and wartime brotherhood. From the rescuing of downed pilots to taking out enemy positions, to the most harrowing extended missions directly overhead of the NVA, here is the dedication, courage, and skill of the fliers who took the war into the enemy's backyard.

©2013 Thomas R. Yarborough (P)2020 Tantor

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What listeners say about Da Nang Diary

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  • Overall
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Just Another Vietnam Book? Oh So Much More!

I am searching for the right words to encourage readers to purchase this audio book. I was an Army pilot in country 1965-1966, and my job was forward air control over a variety of armed services operations but never SOG that I knew of. Not since I read “Home Before Morning” by Lynda Van Devanter, published in 1983, have I been so engaged and shaken to the core by an account of “that” war. Da Nang Diary is very different from other period books. Tom Yarborough does not hedge his bets by relying on extreme language and bloody, graphic word pictures. Oh, they are there for sure, but the author is not out to shock his readers. Rather, he brilliantly tells his all too real account of FAC missions “over the fence” in support of SOG, a little known and highly decorated combat outfit, as the war was nearing its very unsatisfactory conclusion in the early 1970’s.

“Matterhorn” by Karl Marlantes for instance, is one of the more popular albeit graphic accounts of Marines in South Vietnam, garnering thousands of reviews. For me, it was like sticking my finger in an electric socket . . . . I knew it would shock me, and it did. On the other hand, Tom Yarborough used his little written about experiences (SOG ops were classified until very recently) to illuminate a gripping narrative that was wrapped around character development more that blood, race, drugs and guts. My year flying in III Corps, RSVN never took me across a sovereign border (well there was that one time at the Parrot’s Beak) and my day to day included lots of different operations, however my tour in no way approached what Mr. Yarborough experienced. Even so, my 12 months allowed me to totally immerse myself in “Da Nang Diary” with a deep appreciation towards the events written about.

There are lots of good books out there about Vietnam, helicopter pilots, air ambulance units, Khe Sanh, Tet Offensive, Rolling Thunder and Going Downtown . . . . Da Nang Diary stands alone with its stories of the OV-10 Bronco multi-purpose forward air control aerial platform and the amazing accounts of SOG (Studies and Observations Group) in and around the DMZ, Laos and Cambodia. Again, his character development is exceptional. Look for an Army nurse, Sherdeane Kinney, who may well be my most unforgettable character in the book. The relationship is so tender and not what a reader might expect. If you like adventure, intrigue, history and aviation couched in the human element, this book is for you!

17 people found this helpful

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top flight read

This is an incredible story told by a guy with a gift for writing and expressing the events without being self aggrandizing . His flying career as a FAC in Vietnam was amazing And the manner in which he tells the story humanises all those that he met at work with. This book is among my very favourite personal narratives from the Vietnam war, this narrative and the author's skill in relating it are up there with that of Nick Brockhausen and Robert Mason. Highly recommended read. The voice Actor was a perfect fit for the story...absolutely calm, soothing, clear and pleasant to listen to.

7 people found this helpful

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Great Book about FAC and the Vietnam War

I really leaned a great deal from this book about the Vietnam War from a FAC copit view. The Vietnam War was necessary, we did not do enough to stop the spread of tyrantical Maxisium. Letting NVA free access to Loas & Cambodia was a big mistake! Politicians need to stay out of the military tactics once a hot war action is declared. There is really no such thing as limited wars. Our President Nixon did the correct thing by bombing the material supplies of the NVA up North. There is only one way to stop a War, bomb the factories & supply sources, and kill the mad tyrants with violent war ambitions. Stop the supply train of war materials. Also Tyrant ambitious dictator players must be eliminated immediately to stop a War in it's tracks. One must keep cutting off the head of the snake to stop tyrant dictator from starting a new war.
And remember whatever happens support your warriors throughout their life cycle.
Next rebuild the country & its people you conquered, so they will not become bitter and start another war.
In concludition learn from history it always repeats its self. And always keep an army ready to stop ambitious tyrants both forgein & domestic. Tyrannical bullies will always be with us!
Then love all your heart your God, Country, and salute your symbols of freedom, your flag 🇺🇸.

3 people found this helpful

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  • MP
  • 11-17-20

Forward air control, unlike anything else

The entire story transported me. How Yarborough got selected for this secret role hooked me immediately. The way he flew missions, going in low and circling back while being shot up got him in trouble, but that's the kind of pilot SOG wanted.

I've listened to SOG stories and always wondered about Covey pilots, how they kept calm and controlled all the air assets. I can't think of any job just like it. And it's all the SOG troops really had, because everything had to come in by air.

3 people found this helpful

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Great Book

I had listened to books on SOG, but had never learned much about the Forward Air Controllers. This book tells their stories, which are remarkable.
The reader's voice made the book that much better. I found myself listening every chance I got.

2 people found this helpful

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Not for the faint of hart

The author needs to write about the second tour if the government will let him.

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It’s not as raw as the book titled;

(MISTY)-First person stories of the F-100 fast facs in the Vietnam war .,edited by Don Shepperd , usaf(ret) - read this before you listen to danang. -Top notch book

1 person found this helpful

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Honest and well written

This book offers an entertaining and at times thought provoking look at one of the lesser known uses of air power in Southeast Asia. It captures the danger and frustration of being a clandestine part of an already complicated war, and alternates between thrilling flying adventures and the sort of hijinks that pilots get into when left to their own devices.

I especially enjoyed that the author included a fair amount of detail about the aircraft and its procedures- fellow pilots will enjoy the flying sequences greatly.

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a must read.

I first listened to this book back in the winter time in that began my interest in all things SOG. Since reading.this find book I have read many others on the subject of SOG missions across the fence and within Vietnam. I took the author's advice and got John Plaster's work on SOG and became hooked upon completing that book. after reading those other books, I decided to come back to this one and it was even better because now I have read other accounts of the same battles and actions that this author describes so vividly. The beauty of reading the various accounts written by the members of these dangerous and top secret missions is that they basically corroborate each other's story. there's no doubting what went on except you just get different perspectives and other facts that were known only to the authors. I guess as a tribute to this book I even purchased the hard copy so I can refer back to it on occasion. thank you one and all who served.

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Couldn’t get through it.

The author’s monotone reading and self congratulatory story did not hold my interest. On to something else.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-06-22

Good story but lacklustre narration

I enjoyed the story and it added to my knowledge of Vietnam but the narration was very dull and monotone.

Some of the time it was so hard to listen to I just couldn't wait to complete the book, but on the face of it still worth a listen.

With a decent narrator it would be a much better book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Shaun Elliott
  • 05-25-22

Excellant!

Great listen takes you to the seat of his aircraft as if you were there with him!

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  • FIR1er
  • 10-24-21

Very good story

I cant rate this story enough, It is very well read and the author doesn't try justify or explain the Vietnam war - he tells you about the risks and the losses of the operations that he was involved in combined with eye opening descriptions to the professionalism and sacrifice of special operations troops and aircrew involved in the conflict. Worth your time.

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  • Neil A.
  • 08-06-21

Doesn’t get any more real

Captivating story,great narrative.Could not stop listening.You could picture every word as if you knew the characters.I loved the way all the named characters were accounted for after the war

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  • rory
  • 04-25-21

Exceptiona account and narration

This is probably without exception the very best Vietnam War account of the air and ground War in in Vietnam Cambodia and Laos.
mentor supported the narrator is also exceptional and his sound very calming yet thrilling.