Today’s guest is Stephan Talty, author of the new book,Saving Bravo, which comes out October 30. Talty tells the never-before-told story of one of the greatest rescue missions not just of the Vietnam War, but the entire Cold War.

In 1972, the Vietnam War was a lost cause. Public support in the US had cratered; the soldiers and airmen who returned home were called “mercenaries” and their cars were keyed on Air Force bases. Nixon was searching for a way to leave the battlefield, but thousands of Americans were still fighting for their lives, grasping for some meaning to their service.

At the time, few American airmen were more valuable than Lt. Colonel Gene Hambleton. He carried highly classified information and knew secrets about cutting-edge missile technology that didn’t just concern Vietnam but could change the course of the Cold War itself. When Hambleton was shot down behind enemy lines amid North Vietnam’s Easter Offensive, he was left to lie and wait to be rescued in the middle of one of the fiercest ground battles since WW2.

With time running out on the hallucinating and half-starved American, his fellow airmen would have to find a way to extract him from a flood of 30,000 North Vietnamese soldiers. It was a rescue mission that, for a moment, put a halt to the US’s futile fight in the war.

Vietnam was for many a war without heroes. But the eleven men who went after Hambleton gave their lives for a higher cause. Drawing from access to unpublished papers and interviews with the families of those lost in the mission—many of whom are still waiting for the remains of their loved ones, and answers they feel the government owes them—Talty reveals a remarkable story of bravery, compassion, and humanity, one that will speak to all of us struggling to make sense of an anxious and uncertain time.In addition to its release in October, the book has also just been optioned for film by 20th Century Fox.

 

RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

Saving Bravo: The Greatest Rescue Mission in Navy SEAL History