South Vietnamese Airforce Major Bung-Ly narrowly escapes being shot down as he takes off from Con Son Island in his little Cessna Bird Dog. The plane is too heavy to fly for long because his five young children and wife are on board. The invasion of enemies from North Vietnam makes it impossible for him to stay in his beloved country. Brave Bung-Ly loads his terrified wife and children on to the little Bird Dog and desperately heads out to sea, not knowing where he will land, or if there will be a place for him to take his family. Out at sea is the gigantic aircraft carrier, the USS Midway. Bung-Ly spots the ship in the distance, but when he gets closer he sees that its decks are crowded with equipment, helicopters, and hundreds of people. There is no room for him to land his airplane. How will this story end for brave Major Bung-Ly and his family? This true story is one of the amazing tales of heroism and sacrifice from from the Vietnam War.
The Cessna O-1 Bird Dog airplane was not made to hold seven people. It was almost too heavy to take off from the little Island. But Major Bung-Ly was an expert pilot. He managed to get the little Bird dog into the air, and by zigging and zagging this way and that in the, was able to evade the bullets of the enemy machine guns. The Ly children were crying as the airplane zoomed up from the runway at Con Son Island. The green tracers and the constant “tikka-tikka” from the machine guns, frightened and bewildered the five Ly children. Mrs. Ly calmed them. “Do you know what that sound reminds me of?” she whispered in a sweet and encouraging voice, “The fireworks of Tet.” Her soothing words drew their memories back to the New Year’s celebrations they loved so much.
Marjorie Haun is a commentator, reporter, and satirist as well as an author of children's books. She has written and maintained her own website, ReaganGirl.com, for 2 years. Her works include articles for The Heritage Foundation's Foundry, The Daily Pamphlet, The American Thinker, as well as numerous small newspapers and websites. Topics she has covered over the years range from missile defense to Pearl Harbor to Education. Her background in Special Education has given her a deep of understanding about what is appealing to children of all ages, and all developmental stages. She has written and directed short plays and home-grown musicals as well. Experiences on the stage as an actress and singer have added to her sense of narrative and drama which she takes with her into the pages of her stories. Marjorie Haun's personal interest in the moments of heroism during the Vietnam War is an outgrowth of having lost her oldest brother to that war when she was just 8 years old. He was a sailor who was assigned to a river patrol in the heart of Vietnam. He was killed in a firefight when his Swiftboat came under attack on the Dam Doi River in 1970. She has always taken an interest in the stories held within the hearts of American war veterans. Her father was an Army Staff Sargent during World War II who served for awhile in the OSS. She has another brother who served in the Air Force during the Vietnam era. Marjorie Haun lives with her two teenagers, a boy and a girl, 2 cats, and an aging cockatiel, in Grand Junction, which is located on the beautiful and wild Western Slope of Colorado. She has two adult children who are on their own. She is very active in civic organizations as well as service in her church. Marjorie Haun takes a keen interest in all things that are patriotic and which reinforce the greatness of the most wonderful country in the history of the world, The United States of America, and its heroic servicemen and women.
This story attracted my attention because a missionary nurse who is a friend of mine was asked to accompany the children on one of the flights carrying them to safety from Saigon. Through her help my home church in upstate New York adopted a rescued family of seven.
I commend the author and the gifted illustrator for bringing this compelling story of Major Bung-ly to the printed page for those of us who had never heard it. The story is riveting for adults as well as young readers, but not too frightening for young children. The full color drawings complement the text.
The size of the book and the detailed illustrations which bleed off the page on the right make it appear to be for a young reader. However, the text is not kid friendly. Many sentences contain 15 to 30 words, paragraphs are not indented and they are double-spaced. For that reason, children will get more pleasure from the book when their parents or teachers share it with them.
Hope Irvin Marston