About the first two books written by Colonel Jim Roper, USAF, Retired    



Reviews of Jim Roper's books

 Quoth the Raven cover quotes:

"A chilling reminder of our war in Southeast Asia--explosive nights over the Ho Chi Minh Trail, sweaty missions above deadly firefights, the terrible crush of losing a friend--the untold story of the bravest men I've ever known."  Retired USAF General who was there.

"Jim Roper is one of the legendary Ravens, a select group of USAF pilots who volunteered to fly in civilian clothes in the secret war over Laos.  Quoth the Raven gives you the view from the cockpit of his unarmed Cessnas as he searches the Laotian jungles for enemy troops.  A determined warrior who exacted a heavy toll, Jim also tells of the frustrations brought on by incompetent leadership and losing a friend per month in a war Washington didn’t want to win. A great read."  Jimmie H. Butler, Colonel, USAF, Retired,  Author of A Certain Brotherhood, The Iskra Incident, and Red Lightning—Black Thunder.

 "Forward Air Controllers were used as a tactic during the Korean and Viet Nam Wars. Recently FACS have shown their military value in the current war in Afghanistan.They all made a contribution to the application of tactical airpower and greatly influenced the land war. The Ravens however were the most unique of the FACs, flying unique aircraft in a unique location in a unique war. They were all professional warriors that fought everyday in a very hostile environment. They probably did more damage to the enemy in Laos than any other weapons systems because of their tactics and guts. They should be singled out for the outstanding contributions that they made in trying to prevent the defeat of a country and a democratic government. A battle that was ultimately lost not because of lack of military determination but political cowardice.  Joe Kittinger, Colonel, USAF, Retired, Former POW, World record holding balloonist and parachutist, Commander of the famous Triple-Nickel (555th Fighter Squadron), and extraordinary Special Operator.

 "This is the real thing. It takes me back to a time when we were all young and bulletproof."  Tim Eby, Delta Airlines Captain, formerly Covey 540.


Brave Men--Secret War, October 11, 2005
Reviewer: Lawrence R. Mayes (Rapid City, SD USA) - See all my reviews

This effort by Jim Roper is one of those rare books that tells a story of such compelling interest that one is captivated from the first word. The battle the US waged against the Communists in Laos is still one of America's "Forgotten Wars" and what Jim does is give the war definition and reveals its human demension. The flying narrative is absolutely riveting--having personally flown with both Walt and Pterodactyl FACS in 0-1E Bird Dogs along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, I was instantly transported back in time some 35 years to those terror filled moments among hours of tedium...this book is FOR REAL!!! Jim does not sugar coat anything, relating the horrors of fellow FACS dying in a number of shoot downs and accidents with grim reality. His struggles with higher ups removed both physically and mentally from the harsh truths faced by the FACS at the point of the spear make for both entertaining and ultimately frustrating reading--as the reader shares the author's angst with stupidity and lack of zeal to successfully accomplish the mission by his superiors. He gives a great look at how these mostly unknown and underappreciated warriors battled austere conditions, with humor and alcohol as their primary weapons while on the ground, and bravery and determination while in the air. This book is a great read and also an excellent primer on the plight of Laos during the US presence in South East Asia.

A Must Read For Military Aviation Enthusiasts, February 25, 2005
Reviewer: Steven N. Babcock (Mount Laurel, NJ) - See all my reviews

This is a fantastic book about an Air Force pilot's tour of duty as a Forward Air Controller in Vietnam and Laos. It's one of the best personal accounts I've read about the air war in Southeast Asia. The author's writing style puts you right in the cockpit of the propeller driven O-1 and O-2 aircraft on dangerous missions over the Ho Chi Minh trail and against PAVN and Pathet Lao troops in other parts of Laos. It's amazing that these small aircraft were flown at low level in the vicinity of small arms and anti aircraft guns. If you've ever flown a small Cessna or Piper you can appreciate a lot of the author's descriptions of what it was like to fly these aircraft. I also enjoyed the author's descriptions of what the pilots did on their off-duty time. They worked hard and played hard also. The title of the book might be a little misleading as less than half of it deals with his time as a Raven but overall it's a great book and I had a wonderful time reading it.


A great read about what really went on in Laos, February 25, 2003

Reviewer: DON FULTON (VACAVILLE, CA United States) - See all my reviews

Jim Roper has done a wonderful job of getting out some of the incredible stories of missions flown by our pilots in the secret war in Laos. Having flown those missions myself as a Covey FAC, 1968-69, I can vouch for the authenticity of his book. I for one highly recommend his book.
A fellow Covey FAC and former Raven, Larry Ratts, sent me the paperback copy and I,m now ordering the hardcover version for my library.
Thanks Jim for writing the book and Larry for the gift of the book
Don Fulton / Covey 538

Aardvarks and Rangers cover quotes:

"Jim Roper puts the reader into the cockpit of a jet fighter, forces him into a Ranger parachute, and thrusts him into the midst of combat in this direct and exciting narrative. Peppered throughout with the author's unique brand of self-deprecating humor, the book is the authentic account of an insider. A warrior's tale told with attitude... lots of attitude."  Christopher Robbins, Author of: Air America, The Ravens, Test of Courage

"From his earlier book, Quoth the Raven, Jim Roper continues his saga of one man's true-life adventures as a pilot in the Air Force. Whether cutting through the Southwest skies at supersonic speed preparing to fight World War III or slogging through swamps with the Rangers, Jim Roper helps to put a face on those who go in harm's way to defend this nation." Colonel Dale Hill, USAF, Retired

 "In this great follow-on to Quoth the Raven, Jim Roper puts aside his little Cessnas and straps us into his F-111 for supersonic dashes only feet above the wild terrain of southwest America. In his ongoing personal war against USAF bureaucrats, he avoids flying a desk by choosing an assignment with the Army Rangers. Aardvarks and Rangers takes us on that incredible journey, as well, including the Ranger Battalion’s night combat jump into Grenada and Roper's ensuing visit to the White House. An interesting account by a USAF veteran of combat in South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia—and Grenada." Colonel  Jimmie H. Butler, USAF, Retired, Author of: A Certain Brotherhood, The Iskra Incident, and Red Lightning—Black Thunder.

 "Jim Roper captures the most physically demanding, professionally challenging and personally satisfying assignment of my 24 years in the AF."  LtCol Marshall Applegate,  USAF, Retired, Ranger Air Liaison Officer, Grenada Jumper

 "Colonel Jim Roper is a fascinating and multi-talented piece of work, and this book reflects his diverse talent and relentless drive. Jim is a true warrior, fiercely loyal team member, who will accept nothing short of success, no matter the personal cost. Yet, underneath it all is a gentle man, with great humanity and a true love of his country. I knew Jim was really good with a piano (either playing it or throwing it), and I am not surprised at his skill with a pen. The Aardvark portion of this book provides the reader with a vivid, and honest look inside the workings of a "heavy" unit, imbedded in the fighter pilot driven Tactical Air Command (TAC) and reflects on the efforts we made to develop the most lethal (and survivable) flying unit in the USAF. Jim tells his story in a light hearted yet compelling style. " Colonel Jack Gray, USAF, Retired, Director of F-111 Operations at Cannon AFB

 "My MC-130E Combat Talon aircraft arrived first over the runway at Point Salinas, Grenada. As we reduced speed and configured the aircraft for airdrop, a bright searchlight illuminated the Combat Talon, followed by small arms and 23mm AAA fire. The situation was tense as we were extremely vulnerable at 500 feet and 125 knots airspeed. Fortunately, our crew was able to maintain a steady jump platform and the Ranger Command Section, including Jim Roper, the author, made a successful insertion." Major General James L. Hobson, USAF, Retired, whose distinguished career included leading the MC-130s over Grenada. His all night low-level mission culminating in a gauntlet of fire earned the McKay Trophy for the most meritorious flight of 1983.

From Military Magazine, February 2006:

Author Jim Roper is a genuine American hero who has made deep tracks in the military history of America, starting as a Forward Air Controller (FAC) with over 500 combat missions in Vietnam. This book is about his subsequent career flying the much maligned but ultimately superb F-111 fighter/bomber in New Mexico and then becoming the Air Liaison Officer (ALO) to 1st Battalion, 75th Infantry "Rangers." The flying segments of the book make for exciting reading, as Jim takes the reader on many interesting and occasionally dangerous missions, narrating the flights with self-deprecating humor. He also gives the reader significant insights into the machinations of the Air Force personnel system and the intrigue in which he engages to get a follow on flying assignment to the A-10 Warthog. To insure he gets his dream airplane, he has to trade two years of his life as an ALO, a duty that most USAF pilots would kill to avoid. Little does he know that this assignment with the US Army will lead to a combat parachute jump into Grenada and yet another brush with death. The story Jim tells about his indoctrination into the Rangers and the leadership challenges his little group of USAF officers and NCOs face as they become battle hardened members of the elite force is compelling. This book is easy to read, factually correct and is better than almost any novel on similar subjects. The author has "been there, done that" and makes the reader feel comfortable in accompanying him on his unique journey. One of the better features of this chronicle is the author's distain for bureaucracy and bureaucrats...careerists in the military, and his subtle challenges and successes to their intransigence make some of the best reading in this book. This book is highly recommended to anyone with interest in the more contemporary history of the military and who likes a fast paced and exciting story.  Lawrence R. Mayes, Col, USAF, Retired

These comments came via email:

 Thank you for writing "Quoth the Raven". It fills a huge hole in history and ....wonder of wonders... it was an awesome "read". It read like "fiction" (that is a compliment, most histories are shall we say...poorly written and dry!!!)

You ruined my wife's whole weekend. Whenever my wife came up with a chore for me she found me buried in your book.


Just finished Jim Roper's fine book about his experiences as a Raven. I
recommend it for our reading list, a fine read, you will feel like you
are riding with him. Just don't forget the burp bag.


I feel like I was riding the back seat the whole time. You are right up there with Jimmie Butler, John Plaster and a guy who used to write about Lamborghini's for Car & Driver and Automobile magazines.  All of you really can make the reader feel your emotions first hand.


I got your book today and have already read three chapters.


Finished reading my copy of "Quoth The Raven" last night. A great book
and found it difficult to put down once I started reading it. A great
tribute to the FAC profession and an even greater sincere tribute to the
many Brothers that made the ultimate sacrifice for Apple Pie and the
Flag. No holds barred! Thank You Brother Jim Roper.  Well Done.


Just finished the book. Fantastic! What a ride! Thanks for sharing the good times as well as the painful. We all lost a lot of friends and brothers over the years and your book is a wonderful tribute to your fallen comrades. Thanks also for the point blank shots at the chickenshit that began
to worm itself into our everyday lives throughout SEA.


I waited a few days to start reading it and after I started I couldn't put in down. Really good and you told it like it was which is what I would have expected from you.


I'm waiting for a PTSD attack subsequent to reading some your missions. CONGRATS!! Excellent book.


What a great read. I have so much admiration for your writing ability,
which is nothing short of terrific. Like feeling the after effects of a
good Clancy novel, I can't wait to read your next book.


You have certainly educated your readers and given a realistic 'picture'
of what it really was like. Words seem feeble- but I thank you and all
of the others that gave so much while many of us were so ignorant. I
thank you also for having the courage, strength, and perseverance to
begin and finish such a book. You may affect more people by your book
than you can imagine.


You handle dialog beautifully, the action puts the reader right into the cockpit with you, and I especially liked your use of humor. It comes across--along with the "cussin' and drinkin'"-- as the warrior's way of coping with the death, destruction and often-conflicting political BS he faces
every day. In short, reality. I think that vets from all service branches and history buffs will appreciate this book and learn from it.


I just finished your book last night. It came in the mail about a week
ago and it was hard to put down. It was nice to read a war account by
someone who was actually there rather than by a historian or a journalist. I
appreciate your candor and forthrightness.


Your book arrived in today's mail. I have just finished page 252,
eleven hours later. Nice work, as good as the best!!!


Jim thanks for putting it on the line. I know it took a lot of soul searching to
put your experience on paper. But, I think you've done a great service to all who served.


Great read, smooth flowing and holds your attention like glue.


I finished your book-couldn't put it down. You have superbly archived many
visions, thoughts, smells, feelings, attitudes- in words - only a master can
do such magic.


Just finished your book--it has to be one of the two or three best books I've
EVER read!


Finally finished your book. Took me a while because every time I read a chapter it brought back the whole thing in an absolute flood of memories that overwhelmed me at times. I could see the scenes and people like I was there again. Superb job my friend!!


I hope they make a movie from the book. I believe it will help the people of our country, young and old, understand The commitment and dedication our guys had to assisting the folks trying to defend against communist takeover. Your book is clear, riveting, and still relevant to our struggles even today. Congratulations on a job well done.


Funny how all the sights, sounds, and even the feel of flying came thru the words. I guess that made the book especially good for me. I really enjoyed it.


I felt as though I was flying with you as you described your feelings and the battlefield environment. I was there with you during Prairie Fire a campaign that I knew very little about until reading your account.

Jim, thanks for putting pen to paper in such a significant way; great stuff. Someone might just learn from it; we hope!


Again, Jim - thanks for writing "Quoth the Raven". It's a HIT.


I didn't just enjoy Quoth the Raven -- I loved it. It transported me back
to the period that normal people would be shocked to learn I consider the
greatest years of my life.


I just finished reading your book about the Ravens. Terrific book!


.Hey Raven one two, great book. Felt like I was sitting next to you on those "Steve Can- yon" missions.


One heck of a good book.


You managed to drop in quite a bit of humor around a lot of serious shit that happened.


Gave me the exact perspective on what those combat days were all about and what each of you were faced with on a daily basis.


I hope you are getting the good reviews this book deserves and that you are already deep into the next manuscript.


The book is really a thriller—I hate to put it down.


Your book is among maybe 2 or 3 which are written in such a way that I believed I was actually visualizing the scenes. To me that is the trait of a very very good writer and I now include you in that category.


Vivid memories came to me that were filed in the computer on top of my head for three decades . … Hope you have sent a copy to Air Force Military History Division … and to the AF Academy as mandatory reading!


Great read. After I go thru it another four or five times, I’ll be ready for your next book.


From the first page, your book reads as if you wrote it while you were there.


Enjoyed it immensely. Very hard to put it down.


Don’t know when I enjoyed a book more. … Thank you for writing such a good book. It’s shit hot.


I could not put it down. Thanks for a great read and the realistic transport back in time. Do more!


I went through it in one go and enjoyed it from the first to the last line.


Many of your characters will always stay with me.


AWESOME … You did a fantastic job.


You tell a wonderful story.


Got the book and “couldn’t” put it down.


Last night I stayed up until four in the morning reading your book.


Loved your book. Just finished it and couldn’t put it down.


I just 10 minutes ago finished your book and wanted to thank you for writing it. I thoroughly enjoyed it: another brick paving the road of my understanding of the Secret War and those times, events, and people.


It doesn’t get any better than your book for someone like me. Read and RE-read your wonderful book. Damn! I felt like I WAS THERE. … It gave me goose bumps and chills.


QTR is phenomenal. I feel privileged to have shared a piece of your experience, told in so engrossing a manner. Emotions, emotions … almost unable to describe.


After the first few pages, I sent Bill an e-mail stating that this was going to be a great book. It was.  You gave the reader a taste of war first hand.  You also gave we who had used FACs first hand some real knowledge of what made ya'll tick and how you did your job.  Best of all you didn't whine about how awful it was to kill people.  You wanted to go out and kill NVA at every chance.  I damn sure agree with that 100 + percent.  And you did a good job at it.  You spoke honestly about our drinking habit back then.  I drank with the Hmong and the Montagnards.  They knew how to drink and I could keep up with them.  That is back then.  Poor guys can't do it now in this military or they are sent back home.  Well, things change.


You spent years supporting the ground pounders in the air-to-mud business.  I'm damned proud and honored that you not only got your jump wings, you earned them in combat down in the mud.  You have someone who respects you.

Just finished your books in order. WOW!!

Both your books were fascinating and QUOTH THE RAVEN was a real page turner - so thrilling - makes me want to have been there - seriously.

And in AARDVARKS AND RANGERS - wow, what you went through to become a Ranger! You are a very strong man with good principles.

Thank you for sending me these books - when is your next one coming out - and what will it be about? Put me on your list, please.






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