By J. Impey
This is a great book, a very personal story, and yet much more than one man’s journey through two tours of Vietnam with “The Cav”. “Just Let Me Walk Away” must be the overriding thought of every helicopter pilot who ever faced a forced landing. It is also the best book on helicopter operations in Vietnam I have ever read.
While he was serving with the 101st Airborne, Ray Clark volunteered for helicopter flight school, and shortly after was on his way to Vietnam. Five forced landings, a Distinguished Flying Cross, two Bronze Stars, an Air Medal, an Army Commendation Medal, and two tours later, he survived to tell the tale. From the first tour as a new pilot, to command of a company on the second tour, this humble story is a non stop read and mixes Rays personal journey with vivid descriptions of helicopter operations with The Cav. There are moments of stark terror, triumph, unbelievable flying, and yet hilarity and relief.
Descriptions of the technicalities of flying are abundant, yet written around the mission in a way that has you in the helicopter with the crew. After his fifth forced landing, Ray asked his crew chief: “Chief, what do the grunts think of me as a pilot?”. The Chief replied: “well sir, way it is, `bout half of them won’t fly with you, because something is always happening; the other half won’t fly with anyone else, because you always get `em home”. That Ray Clark got home at all is a testament to his flying. “Just Let Me Walk Away” is a remarkable testament to an incredible journey.
Thoroughly recommend it.
Senior Account Executive
BTW I know Ray Clark personally. It had been my pleasure to meet Ray at a stock market seminar some years back. We quickly became friends, and over a period of time I learned of just a few of the stories that you will read in “Just Let Me Walk Away”.
Ray Clark is a very humble guy, and you would never know what he had been through if you just stood and talked with him.
His humility is part of what makes him a great guy, and this book such an incredible story.
By Sargon Akkad
This is the best book I have read about the Vietnam War written from the perspective of a helicopter pilot. It is a riveting read: once I started, I found it difficult to put the book down. The stories are memorable. Several of them had my heart pounding as I read them. I can see this book serving as the basis for a documentary or a movie. Whether that happens is another matter, but it would make for interesting viewing.
I appreciate that Capt. Clark made the book readable by someone who is not a “military person”. Certainly he discusses technical aspects of war, but he does so in a way which isn’t off-putting, and it made me appreciate what soldiers do and endure. Not all casualties occur on the field of battle, something I, as a civilian, often overlook.
The book is well-written, flowing from one story to another, from one chapter to another. It is also perfectly edited, something which I find increasingly uncommon. I liked that pictures are placed throughout the book, adding a nice, occasional break, instead of placing them in the middle, or at the end, of the book. The typeface used is also nice: I had less eye strain even though I read for long periods of time. The maps are quite helpful, and I like that they are large and legible. There is also a nice glossary at the end. Kudos to Capt. Clark and his editor for understanding the reader and paying attention to the little details, the little things too-often overlooked.
I am buying several copies to give to veterans and current members of the military. This book is a testament to the dedication of all who serve to protect and defend the U.S.
I highly recommend this book. You won’t be disappointed.
By A Big Fan
I was hooked from the prologue. I could not put this book down. It tells it like it was, and I loved the contrasts. Serious as needed, stress as expected, patriotism all over it, plus heartaches and humor all mixed well into a great story. The well illustrated black & white photos along the way add to it’s authenticity. This shows the actual Huey crash photos that are rare to see from the 60’s. I had to go back and reread a few favorite chapters… This one got me a few times.. POWERFUL and very well done! This one is a keeper.
Thank you Ray Clark for putting this out there. You are one incredible pilot, and excellent story teller.
Former Infantry aviator Ray Clark’s book was passed to me by a friend whose Vietnam combat credentials are impeccable, so I picked it up and gave it a shot. I normally refrain from doing this, made cautious by years of encountering near-worthless “oral histories” of Vietnam, replete with war stories of doubtful veracity. Having spent some years myself in Vietnam, I had long since determined that the Vietnam War that many authors and Hollywood directors have hammered into the American public for the past several decades bears close to zero resemblance to the real Vietnam.
In Ray Clark’s account of two combat tours in Vietnam, readers will discover part of this “real Vietnam.” Clark has written for his readers a forthright account of one man’s journey into harm’s way as he and his comrades-in-arms, U.S. Army combat aviators, took on one of the most unsung yet dangerous missions in the war–flying rotary wing aircraft, laden with men or supplies, on a daily basis, in the face of an clever and well-armed foe, over terrain that could be as dangerous as the enemy below. Clark’s account drips with authenticity as he recounts mission after mission during which something often went wrong, be it the helicopter itself, the actions of the supported troops on the ground, or the occasional senseless acts of the chain of command. Clark’s recollections pull no punches, for he is the type of leader who clearly succeeded because he was raised with and chose to live by strong principles, first among them being a steadfast commitment to his men and their safety. A veteran of hundreds of such sorties myself, always as a passenger or forward observer, Clark’s dramatic account brought back to me the incomparable flapping sound of feathered blades, the sick sense of vulnerability that crawled up one’s spine when the slow-moving Huey choppers flared for landing (We used to sit on our flak vests to protect the family jewels from ground fire.). Clark’s memories also served to remind me that while we supported troops were worrying about our own fates, the pilots of those helicopters were facing risk and possible death every time they lifted off for the next mission. Not for nothing has Clark entitled his excellent memoir, “Just Let Me Walk Away.”
This is a first-rate book about the real Vietnam War, exciting but authentic, well-written but blunt, and bound to take its place beside other classics of that largely misunderstood war.
Every American should read this book. It is written in such a way that anybody can understand it, and it brings to light what our Veterans have to go through, reminding us that the price of freedom is not free. I highly recommend it to EVERYONE — military or not.