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19 Minutes to Live

Helicopter Combat in Vietnam
Narrated by: David Colacci
Length: 9 hrs and 58 mins
Categories: History, Military
4.5 out of 5 stars (19 ratings)

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Summary

Over 12,000 helicopters were used in the Vietnam War, which is why it became known as "The Helicopter War". Almost half of the helicopters, 5,086, were lost. Helicopter pilots and crews accounted for nearly 10 percent of all the US casualties suffered in Vietnam, with nearly 5,000 killed and an untold number of wounded. Lew Jennings flew over 700 Air Cavalry Cobra Gunship Helicopter missions and received three Distinguished Flying Crosses for Valor.

This memoir describes first-hand the harrowing experiences of helicopter pilots and crews in combat operations, from the far South to the DMZ, including the infamous Ashau Valley, Hamburger Hill, LZ Airborne, and others. 19 Minutes to Live illustrates the incredible courage and determination of helicopter pilots and crews supporting those heroes that carried a rucksack and a rifle in Vietnam.

©2017 Lew Jennings (P)2018 Tantor

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Would recommend.

This is a good book. I've read lots of war memoirs from soldiers of all ranks. Some are too technical. Some are too much about the person. Some unfortunately aren't very good.

This one strikes me as just about right. It's easily as good as Chickenhawk which seems to be held up as some kind of standard. The narrator has an easy voice and the subject matter is excellent.

It's a book which at some point I will listen to again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good choice of reader; good overview of the war

without anything earth shattering happening to this guy during the war, he gives a nice overview of the war, shares enough stories of his friends, and gives enough detail of his own activities to make you feel close to it. The reader conveys it well too

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Profile Image for Kim F.
  • Kim F.
  • 27-04-18

Incredible

As a Coast Guard retiree, many years ago I had the privilege of working with several Viet Nam era pilots that were every bit as exceptional as the aircrews outlined in Lew’s book. There are two distinct phrases that define the careers of most military aviators... number one “timing is everything” and number two, “there but for the grace of God, go I.” The second phrase can be good, or bad depending on how your day is going. 19 Minutes To Live is an incredibly accurate portrayal of some of the finest military aviators in history, a true joy to read! My hat’s off to the many service members recognized by name in this book! Gentlemen, thank you for your service.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Bee Keeper
  • 21-06-18

It Was Good To "Meet" Lew Jennings

I was there as an Army aviator, in country 1965 - 1966, spent some time living with forward outfits but also enjoyed some air conditioned villas. I spent every day in support of combat operations in one way or another, day and night - listening to their cries of victory as well as their pain, anguish and calls for fire support, napalm and med-evac. I am always interested in first hand accounts of this very dark period of our history. Mr Jennings joined Army Aviation the same way I did, that is to say that Air Force and Navy required a college degree. The army did not and I wanted to fly. Jennings was one hell of a pilot and he earned every commendation he received. His story was my story in many details. I also flew out of Travis AFB. I can't imagine missing the flight due to misreading departure schedule in military time. Pan Am was the charter 707 going over and Northwest Orient was my freedom bird coming home. Both Mr Jennings and I were different guys after that year in combat for sure.

I could have done without the chapter on the history of Vietnam. I believe most of the readers who chose this book were already familiar with it. I wanted more day to day operations. Mr Colacci's narration was not very well suited to this book. Not boring like some have said, rather it seemed like he was teaching a Sunday School lesson. I can recommend the book, especially for younger readers who may not know the history regarding Vietnam and other nations wishing to control it. Worth the reasonable price, but perhaps not a $15.00 credit.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Jimhusky
  • 05-09-18

Not a novel about flying in Vietnam

This should be titled a history of Vietnam & the war. It was not written from a pilot’s perspective. I am surprised it was written by a pilot. It reads like text book history of the war in Vietnam. If you want to read books from a pilot’s perspective, Chickhawk and Rattler One-Seven are much better books.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael Sabo
  • 19-06-18

Awesome stories!

I picked this book because my father was a door gunner in the Vietnam war. After reading this book I feel I have a much better idea of what my pop went through during his term in Vietnam. I really enjoyed reading this and highly recommend it to anyone interested in war books and stories. Thank you to all that served and serve our country.

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  • Tracey Barr
  • 01-06-18

Not my style of storytelling.

I can’t give a bad review based on preferences.I gave all five stars because it certainly was a nice piece of work.If I had to explain my review title,I would say that some of the information and explanations made the stories drag on a bit.While the author surely experienced incredibly exciting situations. I didn’t feel I was along for the ride.It May have been the narrative style that made this selection seem sort of monotone history book read at times.Preferences vary and my review is simply a comment.

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  • Edward J. Seaton
  • 07-03-19

amazing story

This dude has lived an unbelievable life. Flying missions in Vietnam AND Iraq?? Truly a lifetime of service. As corny as it sounds "inspirational " is an apt description of this man's life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Robert
  • 02-01-19

In country

I was in country at the same location and time that this book takes place.
The authors description of events on Hamburger Hill are true and accurate.
I was a crew chief/ door gunner in the 4th Bat. 77th field artillery ARA company C at that time. Later was crew chief with 237th med detachment, dust off flying injured to the 18th surgical hospital.

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  • John Behrens
  • 26-04-18

Wonderful "read"

Great book by an American patriot made even better with the prefect narrator. THANKS Lew and David!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • 01-12-19

excellent book

as an author myself I feel as though we should get an opportunity at times to review the reviewers. I often find myself saying "did you even read the book?" or "how could you have possibly missed the entire point?" such is the case here. an excellent book about flying snakes in Vietnam, the back history was much appreciated an well written. this book can easily stand beside other greats such as "chicken hawk"

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  • Randall Parker
  • 15-11-19

One dangerous day after another

Jennings tells his story well. One year of courageous guys flying right at people shooting at them, pilots letting loose with missiles and guns blazing and with great flying skill. Leaders made bad decisions back in Washington while soldiers fought for each other. The NVA were clever and very tenacious.

I'm left wondering about whether the soldiers thought much about whether the war was worth risking their lives for. I also wonder what their majors and colonels were thinking about it. Repeatedly fighting over places like the Ashau Valley in different years. Not a recipe for progress.