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Legend: The Incredible Story of Green Beret Sergeant Roy Benavidez's Heroic Mission to Rescue a Special Forces Team Caught Behind Enemy Lines Paperback – April 26, 2016
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The true story of the U.S. Army’s 240th Assault Helicopter Company and a Green Beret Staff Sergeant's heroic mission to rescue a Special Forces team trapped behind enemy lines during the Vietnam War, from New York Times bestselling author Eric Blehm.
On May 2, 1968, a twelve-man Special Forces team covertly infiltrated a small clearing in the jungles of neutral Cambodia—where U.S. forces were forbidden to operate. Their objective, just miles over the Vietnam border, was to collect evidence that proved the North Vietnamese Army was using the Cambodian sanctuary as a major conduit for supplying troops and materiel to the south via the Ho Chi Minh Trail. What the team didn’t know was that they had infiltrated a section of jungle that concealed a major enemy base. Soon they found themselves surrounded by hundreds of NVA, under attack, low on ammunition, stacking the bodies of the dead as cover in a desperate attempt to survive the onslaught.
When Special Forces Staff Sergeant Roy Benavidez heard their distress call, he jumped aboard the next helicopter bound for the combat zone. What followed would become legend in the Special Operations community. Flown into the foray of battle by the 240th Assault Helicopter Company, Benavidez jumped from the hovering aircraft, ran nearly 100 yards through withering enemy fire, and--despite being immediately and severely wounded--organized an extraordinary defense and rescue of the Special Forces team.
Written with extensive access to family members, surviving members of the 240th Assault Helicopter Company, on-the-ground eye-witness accounts never before published, as well as recently discovered archival, and declassified military records, Blehm has created a riveting narrative both of Roy Benavidez’s life and career, and of the inspiring, almost unbelievable events that defined the brotherhood of the air and ground warriors in an unpopular war halfway around the world. Legend recounts the courage and commitment of those who fought in Vietnam in service of their country, and the story of one of the many unsung heroes of the war.
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“Roy Benavidez is a real badass, a modern day Spartan, the heart of what every warrior prays for when everything goes wrong.”
——MARCUS LUTTRELL, retired Navy SEAL and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Lone Survivor
“I fought beside and led U.S. Special Operations soldiers, sailors, and airmen during three wars— World War II, Korea, and Vietnam—including the men [of SOG] depicted in Legend. Never have I read a more powerfully honest, realistic, or moving account of the war in Southeast Asia. Eric Blehm masterfully encapsulates the hearts of the men, their impossible mission, and the quagmire of politics of the era and wraps it up in a single bloody battle that portrays the American fighting man at his best.”
——MAJOR GENERAL JOHN K. (JACK) SINGLAUB, U.S. Army (Ret.)
“Legend may be the most important book ever written about the men of Special Operations. It brings to life in touching and brutal detail one of Special Operations Force’s first true heroes as well as the other heroic men who fought and died with him in the jungles of Cambodia. Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez represented the best of the quiet professionals whose incredible actions were long overlooked and lost to history only to be rediscovered through Blehm’s painstaking research and magnificent writing.”
——LIEUTENANT COLONEL JASON AMERINE, U.S. Army Special Forces
"[Legend] is one of the most honest and engrossing narratives of the war I have ever read…. Blehm faithfully describes the complicated choreography of war, and shows us why the Congressional Medal of Honor was bestowed on Sergeant Benavidez for his actions. A magnificent narrative, painstakingly told by a master storyteller."
——MAJ. GEN. PAUL VALLELY
About the Author
- Publisher : Crown; Reprint edition (April 26, 2016)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0804139539
- ISBN-13 : 978-0804139533
- Item Weight : 8.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.2 x 0.63 x 7.96 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #32,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Choppers are crashing and crews dying in the many attempt to reach the beleaguered troops. The action Roy takes is beyond belief and readers will be awed by his calmness and determination to get everybody back to safety. The story continues to describe the rest of the battle and their eventual evacuation from the LZ. Only a few survived. Benavidez was tagged in triage and left with the other dead bodies stacked outside of the hospital because of so much damage to his body. Miraculously, he garnered enough strength and fortitude to spit at the orderly who almost finished zippering him up in a black body bag. When discovering that Roy was alive, they rushed to save his life. He spent over a year convalescing from his injuries, and remained in San Antonio to be close to his family. Afterward, he continued in active service in the Army until his eventual retirement.
Roy deserved the Medal of Honor for his actions that day, however, his involvement in Cambodia was top secret, and instead, the Dept. of the Army awarded him the Distinguished Service Cross - a step below the MOH. SF soldiers were sworn to secrecy and agreed not to expose anything about their missions or locations for thirty years. The penalty for doing so is a dishonorable discharge, large fine and imprisonment.
Ten years later, those who survived the battle wrote reports that detailed Roy's actions during that fateful day in hopes of reversing the decision regarding Roy's MOH, yet the Army refused to upgrade it. Others continued the effort and when an eye witness came forward - one who Roy thought perished and vice-versa, and his testimony tipped the scales. The MOH was awarded for his actions in a battle west of a town in South Vietnam and Cambodia was not inferred.
This is a great read with a lot of detail of the actual events. Roy was quoted in the book, "that day was filled with heroes, all trying very hard to save this team, unfortunately, many of them did not survive the battle." The last third of the book will keep you reading until the end! RIP Roy Benavidez! Thank you Eric Blehm for a great story!
John Podlaski, author
'Cherries - A Vietnam War Novel' and 'When Can I Stop Running?'
Since I'm not in the military, I really appreciated Eric Blehm's definitions/explanations of many of the oft-used military acronyms throughout the book. I was also impressed with the many photographs and the maps shown.
I had heard parts of the story of this mission many times from the mouths of those involved, but I had never heard many of the details that Eric Blehm was able to uncover & piece together. I now have a much greater understanding of the events overall.
The first part of the book covers Roy's hardscrabble childhood in Texas. It tells about his family and the morals and patriotism which were instilled in him throughout his younger years. I feel this part of the book was important as it tells how the man was formed.
The second section transitions into his military career and then focuses on his actions as a Green Beret during the May 2, 1968 mission for which he was eventually awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor - the USA's highest military honor.
I was completely riveted while reading about this mission. It's gripping, terrifying, thrilling, frustrating, tragic and more. Eric Blehm did an outstanding job in clarifying what occurred and thoroughly compiling all of the historic records/current interviews/previous books into a highly readable, edge-of-your-seat story. This novel should be made into a MOVIE!
The final section of the book outlines the years-long struggle many people went through to ensure Roy was appropriately thanked and honored for his actions and hints at why it took so long for Roy to finally receive the MoH. It also serves as a sort of epilogue telling what happened to many of the individuals in the years following the mission. I'm so glad that was included.
This story needed to be told. It still needs to be told. READ IT, TELL THE STORY to your children (at an age-appropriate level, of course), tell your friends and family. Let's re-ignite patriotism like Roy was always able to do.
One last thing. Thank you to all who have served our country.
However, the author of this book really did a lot of heavy research and it seems like he had the freedom to publish information that was previously considered classified. It really takes you deep into the technical aspects of how extremely dangerous and complex missions are run in the special operations communities.
The book does get a bit heavy at times with the timelines of the missions. I had to write names down on a separate piece of paper, so that I could keep up with the many players and aspects of the missions; who was who, who did what, etc. The provided maps are really needed for the reader to understand the information the author presents, which can be overwhelming and dense from a technical standpoint.
It is really an excellent book. Quite frankly I am surprised this story has not being picked up for a movie. It is extremely moving from a personal point of view and it provides an incredible amount of light about many aspects of the Vietnam war that many people are probably still unaware of after so many decades.