The TLC Brotherhood and The ACB Poster
When Colonel Jimmie H. Butler (USAF, Ret.) wrote A Certain Brotherhood, he was determined to tell the story in a way other combat pilots would be proud of. The fact-inspired novel tells of flying unarmed Cessnas over the heavy antiaircraft defenses of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. This was a part of the Vietnam War he knew well, both from research for an award-winning report at the Air War College and from 240 combat missions as a Forward Air Controller in O-1s and O-2s. And, indeed, the novel has drawn praise from almost every combat crewmember who has read it. An unexpected response came from many Thai-based USAF veterans. These men had supported American air operations against North Vietnam and against North Vietnamese troops maintaining and defending the Ho Chi Minh Trail through Laos.
During much of the war, a cloak of secrecy shrouded air attacks against the Trail. So, the men who labored in tropical heat and monsoon rains to keep the combat aircraft armed and ready-to-fly often did their jobs without knowing what the mission was. Sometimes shunned by veterans who had served in- country, many of these men had felt like second-class veterans for nearly 30 years. A couple of these veterans read A Certain Brotherhood and understood for the first time the importance of keeping their little Cessnas ready to fly over the Trail.
The result was a new sense of pride in work done-and sacrifices made-so many years ago. These men knew there must be other Air Force veterans who had served with dedication at other Thai bases and now were silent about that service. Through contacts by telephone and the Internet, the two grew to four, then grew to many, many more. The brotherhood, felt so strongly many years ago, was reborn along with their pride. By late 1997, the group formed the TLC Brotherhood, welcoming those whose service during the Vietnam War had involved primarily Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. An Army brother, who drove the roads of Thailand to keep the USAF bases supplied, set up a TLC Brotherhood website that continues to grow and stir memories. The site address, which can be found by searching for TLC Brotherhood, is: http://www.TLC-Brotherhood.org
Current owners of O-1 Bird Dogs had asked for a poster that would make the cover art of A Certain Brotherhood more widely available. Colonel Butler decided to combine S.W. Ferguson's magnificent salute to the tenacity of the Bird Dog pilots with a recognition of the dedicated service of all veterans who made combat operations from Thai bases possible. The result is a 16 by 20 color poster on a white background. The ACB Poster features the novel's cover art alongside the flags of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, South Vietnam, and the United States of America. The TLC Brotherhood welcomes new members almost daily. We stand together knowing that no matter what part of the mission we were given, The Wall in Washington, D.C. would have had to be larger if American aircraft hadn't made almost daily attacks from Thai bases throughout the Vietnam War. We didn't run away to Canada or Oxford. We served when our country called. We feel a special sense of brotherhood that we will share the rest of our lives.
About the Artist
S.W. Ferguson is an aviation historian and artist of extraordinary skill. His portfolio includes aircraft of all eras. His work is known for the intricate details he includes to capture aircraft in action. He has illustrated a number of histories of flying units of World War II. Many aviation aficionados are familiar with S.W. Ferguson's dramatic painting of Pardo's Push. This painting captures the essence of one of the most famous USAF missions over North Vietnam. On 10 March 1967, Captain Bob Pardo used his damaged F-4 Phantom to help push Captain Earl Aman's crippled F-4 farther away from the heavily populated areas of North Vietnam. The Pardo's Push painting shows the two F-4s struggling across North Vietnam. Nearly 30 years later, Earl Aman was stricken with Lou Gehrig's disease, and once again, Bob Pardo has come to the aid of his crippled wingman. He founded the Earl Aman Courage Foundation to raise funds for Earl and other veterans in need of assistance. Earl Aman died 15 October 1998 and was buried at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
One of the fund-raisers has been T-shirts illustrated with S.W. Ferguson's famous painting of Pardo's Push He worked closely with author Jimmie H. Butler in developing the cover art for A Certain Brotherhood. The resulting cover vividly depicts the dangers of flying USAF Cessna Bird Dogs against North Vietnamese antiaircraft artillery deep in Mu Gia Pass. The cover art is presented in full color in the poster for A Certain Brotherhood.
About The Author
Jimmie H. Butler, Colonel, USAF, Retired, flew 240 missions as a Nail FAC in O-1s and O-2s in the Vietnam War. His combat decorations include the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Air Medal with sixteen oak leaf clusters. Since retiring from active duty, he has published two highly successful technothrillers. His first novel, The Iskra Incident, earned the 1991 Award of Excellence for Aviation Fiction from the Aviation/Space Writers Association. Red Lightning-Black Thunder, a thriller involving space warfare, was crafted from his experience as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force Space Division and as a pilot on worldwide missions in C-141 jet transports. While at the Air War College, he wrote a book-length report, Crickets on a Steel Tiger: The Interdiction of the Ho Chi Minh Trail 1966-1968. It earned the Air Force Historical Foundation's 1980 Award for the best aerospace report of major historical interest. A graduate of the United States Air Force Academy Class of 1963, he resides in Colorado Springs where he established the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in 1993.
Books by Col. Jimmie H. Butler USAF (Retired)
A Certain Brotherhood
The Iskra Incident
Red Lightning-Black Thunder
A Certain Brotherhood and the other titles as well as the ACB Poser are available via JimmieHButler.com.
You may email Col. Jimmie Butler at jimmiebNOSPAM@earthlink.net - manually remove the word NOSPAM before mailing.
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18 oct 98