High Road to Hanoi

The High Road to Hanoi is historical fiction which portrays the lives, concerns and emotions of the B-52 crew members during the height of the cold war and throughout the Vietnam Conflict. The period of the narrative is from 1962 to 1973. The main character is a radar navigator (bombardier) on a combat-ready crew who, as a second lieutenant, finds himself flying over the North Pole with nuclear weapons during the Cuban Missile Crisis. During the ensuing ten years, the young officer learns to cope with the sobering responsibilities of standing day-to-day nuclear alert interspersed with actual combat missions over Southeast Asia.
The B-52 crews were subjected to unmitigated stress during one of the most tense periods in this country’s history. The pressure was relentless. During their normal peacetime role, these men lived with nuclear weapons on a daily basis and were totally committed to wreak unimaginable devastation across the globe on a moments notice. “Peace is our profession” was not just a slogan. The responsibility imposed by nuclear deterrence allowed no mistakes. The Strategic Air Command (SAC) demanded perfection, anything less was unacceptable. To err is human; but it is not SAC’s way. When stateside, the crews routinely pulled seven-day tours of duty on the alert pad where they lived and slept with nuclear bombs. Daily they faced a barrage of tests, inflight evaluations, and no-notice nuclear combat simulation missions where failure was not an option.
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