Vector to Destiny: Journey of a Vietnam F-4 Fighter Pilot, George W. Kohn
Memoir, 254 pages
Reviewed by Jack Kruse, email@example.com
In his teens George Kohn dreamt of becoming a fighter pilot. He suspected the dream resulted from watching B-58 Hustlers passing over his father’s farm dragging their sonic booms behind them. By his own admission, he built a mountain range of obstacles between himself and his goal, starting with poor grades in High School and no college preparatory work.
His story of working his way through those obstacles (college, ROTC, flight physical, flight training, qualifying as the GIB—guy in back—of an F-4 Phantom) become a story of determination and sacrifice. These characteristics defined him throughout his life.
His arrival at Da Nang Air Force Base, and his year of wartime flights over Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, puts the reader in the back seat with him. In one instance he recounted a bomb run on enemy troops in a mountain valley. The Forward Air Controller marked the target and gave them a heading to the target up the valley and into a mountain.
“The A/C pickled the bombs on my command and started a pull up. However, we had miscalculated how fast we closed on the rapidly approaching mountain ahead of us. It appeared that we hit some trees.”
“After we got back to Da Nang, the crew chief and I walked around our airplane and pulled some twigs out of our pylons.”
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Vietnam War, use of aircraft in combat, or the inspiring story of a young man overcoming all obstacles in the realization of his dreams.
Reviewer LCDR Jack Kruse USNR (Ret.) qualified as a Patrol Plane Navigator, and Airborne Anti-submarine Warfare Tactical Coordinator in Patrol Squadron 22 from 1976-1979, and, in the Naval Reserve Patrol Squadron 60 from 1982 – 1994.
As a life-long student of warfare through the ages, specializing in the use of aircraft in combat he has written numerous short stories and three novels. His current work in progress focuses on women fighter pilots flying in combat for the Soviet Union against the Nazi German forces. This novel is inspired by the true stories of these valiant women. His story “Night Witches,” published in the UWWC literary magazine, Pyrite, Spring, 2016, won him the Regina V. Diamanti Prize. His blog may be found at jackkrusewriter.net.