Inside the Writer’s Cafe with Cheryl Nason – Author Interviews with: Jeff Ahlin and John Flanagan
OVERRUN: The Battle for Firebase 14 by CDR Jeff Ahlin
This novel is a dramatization of many of CDR Jeff Ahlin’s experiences on the USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) in Vietnam and South East Asia between the summer of 1969 and the summer of 1971. During that time then Lt. Ahlin became friendly with one of the Naval Pilots from Squadron VA-192, The Golden Dragons. Lt. Dennis Pike flew the A7-E Corsair II and was a trombone player in the ship’s band, “The Yankee Air Pirates,” with Lt. Ahlin, who played the banjo.
The story outlines some of the difficult circumstances, logistical problems and abject terror that permeated the jungle warfare. The U.S. Army Rangers and the U.S. Marines were subjected to many difficult battles in the Central Highlands, A Shau Valley, and near the borders of Cambodia, Laos, and the 17th Parallel, the border of North Vietnam.
LCDR Pike was lost over Laos in the spring of 1972. Dennis and his aircraft vanished off the face of the earth. There were unconfirmed reports of him being held in a prison camp in Laos in the summer of 1972.
In the fall of 2011 his helmet was found by a farmer in a stream in Laos. There were reports the Russians and Chinese took pieces of downed aircraft and six of our pilots as POW’s; but all the pilots were released after the war. The question remains, what happened to LCDR Dennis Pike?
MICHAEL DEVLIN AND THE CHEYENNE by John Flanagan
Penniless Irish immigrant Michael Devlin arrives in New York City, in 1864, the third year of the American Civil War. With a group of friends from his home in County Galway, he enlists in a cavalry regiment. After basic training, they are thrown into the Union Civil War against the Confederate South. On a reconnaissance mission, Michael discovers he is unable to fire on Confederate soldiers. To avoid the taking of human life, he volunteers for duty with a special unit of cavalry in Denver, Colorado. Michael’s mission in the Mounted Cavalry in Fort Weld, Denver, Colorado, was to escort a tribe of Cheyenne Indians from a traditional Indian village to a new reservation one hundred miles away. Among the Indian nations, a reservation was a euphemism for a prisoner of war camp. It was the depth of winter; harsh inclement weather would claim many Indian lives. Beaten and whipped, the weakened Cheyenne tribe could travel no further on the forced march. Michael witnessed Us soldiers sadistically slaughter defenseless braves, women and children. The killings had a profound effect on Michael and change the course of his life. On learning of a secret government conspiracy to exterminate American Indians by means of genocide, Michael becomes a leader of the persecuted Cheyenne tribe. He initiates several triumphant and bloody skirmishes against the murderous Us Cavalry soldiers. He leads the remainder of the Cheyenne tribe to eventual freedom after a long exodus to Mexico.