Ask any fighter pilot or Forward Air Controller from the Vietnam era and he’ll tell you that he heard about it. While the war in Vietnam ebbed and flowed with alternating violence and boredom, there was a rumor of another war, somewhere else, where men flew long hours in propeller aircraft without markings into constant danger in a land where adventure reigned supreme, where common sense replaced the hated Rules of Engagement and where a man could finally test the limits of his abilities. These pilots were few in number and their call sign was Raven. This is the wartime autobiography of one of the few pilots ever to fly under that now famous call sign. Craig Duehring lived and flew out of the guerilla headquarters at Long Tieng, Laos, in support of the iconic Hmong leader, Major General Vang Pao, for a longer tour of duty than any other Raven. During that time, he knew many of the most notable Ravens and participated in many tragic events of the day – including the famous “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre”. This is the story of how one young man left the farm country of southern Minnesota and embarked on a career as an Air Force pilot during the height of the Vietnam War. Equally as important as the combat he experienced is his personal triumph over repeated obstacles and near disasters to achieve his dream that will be a source of inspiration for young readers everywhere. Do such challenges attract the best men or were they average men who were simply doing their personal best? Judge for yourself.
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Craig W. Duehring is a native of Mankato, Minnesota. He joined the Air Force in December of 1967 and immediately entered Air Force Officer Training School followed by Undergraduate Pilot Training at Craig AFB, Alabama. He saw service during the Vietnam War in 1969-70, as an Allen Forward Air Controller with the 25th ARVN Division. In 1970-71, he was a Raven Forward Air Controller based in Laos. Subsequent assignments included a T-37 instructor pilot and flight commander at Craig AFB. He was an A-10 flight commander at RAF Bentwaters from 1978 to 1981. He served at HQ USAFE from 1981 – 84. After another A-10 tour he was stationed at Nörvenich Air Base, Germany, as the American Community Commander and Commander of the 7502nd MUNSS. He was subsequently Deputy Commander of Operations of the 406th Tactical Fighter Training Wing at Zaragoza Air Base 1989-91. Finally, he served a tour as the U. S.Air Attaché to Indonesia from 1993 to 1995. Duehring retired from the Air Force in 1996, having attained the rank of colonel. Col. Duehring’s awards include the Silver Star, Defense Superior Service Medal, 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses with one oak leaf cluster, and the Air Medal with 26 oak leaf clusters. He flew a total of 834 combat missions and 1525.8 combat hours. In 1988 he was awarded the Lance P. Sijan Award as the top leader in the USAF in the senior officer category. Duehring became the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs and performed the duties of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs in the period immediately following the September 11 attacks. In July 2006, Duehring became Acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Manpower & Reserve Affairs). In November 2007, President George W. Bush nominated Duehring to be Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Manpower & Reserve Affairs), and Duehring subsequently held this office until retiring from public service on April 30, 2009. In September, 2009, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI conferred a Papal Knighthood on Duehring in the Order of Saint Gregory the Great at the level of Knight Commander with Star. On September 1, 2010, Duehring was appointed by Governor Bob McDonnell as a member of the Board of Directors for the Virginia National Defense Industrial Authority. On April 12, 2014, he was inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame.
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