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Answering the Call

Life of a Helicopter pilot in Vietnam and beyond

(6 customer reviews)
Authors: Bob Grandin
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‘There’s the bend in the road at Long Tan,’ I said. ‘We’re behind enemy lines. Turn back east, quickly.’  I had been scared before but now I was terrified.’

In 1966, Bob Grandin was a Royal Australian Airforce helicopter pilot stationed in Vietnam.  This book is written from the logbook he kept while working in Nui Dat and is a fascinating look at life during war – the dangers, the challenges and the mundaneness.

On 18 August he was co-pilot on a 9 Squadron Iroquois ‘Huey’ helicopter that flew over the enemy to resupply desperate solders engaged in battle at the Long Tan rubber plantation.  Enduring extremely poor weather conditions and enemy fire the critical role played by Bob and 9 Squadron in the Battle of Long Tan contributed to the success of this battle.

The narrative of his war experiences are interwoven with stories of his life after Vietnam, revealing the difficulties he faced back home, the impact of the war on his psyche and relationships, and his struggles with PTSD.

A collection of Australian newspaper articles saved by Bob’s father feature throughout, giving further insight into how important helicopters were in Vietnam, and also how the press reported the war to the Australian public.

Answering the Call provides the unique perspective of a wartime helicopter pilot and is an important addition to Vietnam War history.


View sample pages HERE

Read Interview with Bob Grandin, The Sydney Morning Herald here

Flight Lieutenant Bob Grandin at the controls of an RAAF helicopter during the Vietnam War.

Bob Grandin

Bob Grandin

Bob Grandin joined the RAAF College at Point Cook in 1957. After graduation he went to East Sale and The School of Air Navigation to fly DC3 flying classrooms before transferring in 1963 to Richmond and No 11 Maritime Reconnaissance Squadron in P2V Neptunes. In 1966 he volunteered to transfer to No 9 Sqn and […]

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6 reviews for Answering the Call

  1. Bob Grandin has a vivid memory of flying a helicopter to resupply ammunition to besieged Australian troops during one of the decisive battles of the Vietnam War.
    “It was terrifying,” he says. “I thought it was a suicide mission.”

  2. Radio Interview – Perth Tonight, Chris Ilsley interviewing author Bob Grandin on his new book Answering the Call

    6PR Chris Ilsley 6PR Perth Tonight Bob Grandin Book Club Perth Tonight Book Club

  3. The story of a chopper pilot, two rock stars and the Vietnam War

  4. Personal tales of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War have barely trickled out. Beyond several more official commissioned accounts, Australian stories have centred more on defining battles as opposed to the drawn out tour experience of any one serviceman.

    Bob Grandin was part of the initial deployment of 9 Squadron and its helicopters into Vietnam in 1966. Australia’s eight, later sixteen, Iroquois (the US threw in almost 12,000) were a critical part of Australian Army operations in South Vietnam, especially in support of SAS units dropped deep behind enemy lines.

    Bob’s enthralling account of his experience dips from the brutal reality of combat to the frustrations of those commanding, interspersed with adjustment to civilian life and eventual acknowledgement of PTSD and its impact.

    Bob’s helicopter was one of two RAAF Iroquois to support Delta Company in the Battle of Long Tan. The chaos leading to the decision to support the battle highlights the overwhelming stress of command and the courageous decisions to volunteer in almost total disregard of the local RAAF air commander.

    The book continues with SAS insertions and extractions and the development of tactics to support Australian special forces on their critical reconnaissance missions.

    Period newspaper clippings reflect some of the events described and some of what the public was reading. This, along with chapters on civilian life post-Vietnam and the RAAF, perfectly frame a life of service as a soldier and later as an educator for challenging kids. The story of an extraordinary Australian.

  5. The book recounts his training, combat time in Vietnam, and post-war readjustment to society. It has been written from the logbook he used while based at Nui Dat, South Vietnam.

    The memories he shares include humor, boring moments and sheer horror of warfare which worked his adrenaline. He details the missions, some very well known and some less more public to assorted places across Vietnam. On 18 August he was co-pilot on a 9 Squadron Iroquois ‘Huey’ helicopter that flew over the enemy to resupply desperate soldiers engaged in battle at the Long Tan rubber plantation. Enduring extremely poor weather conditions and enemy fire the critical role played by Bob and 9 Squadron in the Battle of Long Tan contributed to the success of this battle.

  6. Why was 9 Squadron sent to Vietnam? The direct answer was to support the Australian Task Force. Grandin does not avoid discussing the conflicting views of the RAAF and the Army in the performance of this task. The book is valuable for this topic alone – it shows how command and control structures are indeed important. This book is convincing evidence of the need for joint service understanding. Dr Grandin is to be congratulated for a clear and important story of his part in the Vietnam War.

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