An Airman’s Story – DVD Review
An Airman’s Story:Duty, Honor, Country The Legacy Lives On, a documentary by Leon J. DeLisle. DVD Review. $29.99
The documentary has regained a new level of respect thanks to the likes of such filmmakers as Ken Burns and the proliferation of specialty cable outlets such as History Channel. Leon J. DeLisle’s new documentary, An Airman’s Story, is the first release of a special project in which DeLisle plans to tell the story of the pilots who served in World War II, Korea and Southeast Asia in “a way that no one ever has before.” If this first release is any indication of the quality of the series, it has wings.
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An Airman’s Story: Duty, Honor, Country The Legacy Lives On is an hour-long documentary focusing on the American pilots who flew F105s and F4 Phantoms against the Communist MiGs during the Vietnam War. This documentary features extensive interviews with many of the pilots of the 56th Fighter Group, the 555 Triple Nickel and 8th Tactical Fighter Squadron—aka “The MiG Killers” who flew in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The first engrossing interview is with Lt. Col. Bob Pardo who bravely attempted to bring his flight of F4 Phantoms back home as they ran dangerously low on fuel by pushing one of the planes with his own F4!
Another fascinating interview is with Col. John Stone who talks about Operation Bolo and the ferocious dogfights that occurred against a wing of skilled MiG pilots. Gun camera footage adds to the drama of the recollections.
Two musical montages are included in the documentary, one regarding the fighter pilots love of using cannons instead of missiles and the other a wonderful musical tribute to the late Brig. General Robin Olds who led his brave airmen in combat from World War II’s D-Day flights in a P38 Lightning to F4s over Vietnam. A moving interview is included with Old’s daughter, Christina, revealing her deep love and respect for her dad.
A moving section of the documentary deals with two pilots who were forced to bail over Vietnam and ended up as POWs in the Hanoi Hilton. Their tales of survival are a credit to all American POWs who had to endure captivity in such hellholes.
If there is any flaw to this heartfelt production, it is the editing, which at times seems unfocused. As a filmmaker myself, I can say that a slight re-edit would add shine to this production. It would also have been a good addition to set the interviews in context with some introductory material on the air war in Vietnam and the planes used in the conflict.
Those few small flaws aside, An Airman’s Story: Duty, Honor, Country The Legacy Lives On is an inspired production from a project which is sure to inspire all who watch it. Highly recommended.
It is available from DeLisle’s Website.
About the Author:
A college film instructor and founder of Nouveau Cinema Group, Inc., an organization which rescues old movie theaters, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War 1 and 2 gamer who can remember war games that came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old).