From hot, sweaty, often bloody infantry battles in Vietnam to high-altitude supersonic fighter engagements in the Middle East lasting only seconds, Steve Stevenson mixed two disparate careers into one. Not appreciated at home, Steve and the Vietnam era troops performed every challenging task assigned. Many of the painful Vietnam problems were corrected in Middle East conflicts twenty years later by senior leaders who fought as junior officers in Vietnam.
Known by his Air Force call sign “Grunt” in F-4s, he pushed the importance of and need for Close Air Support for the ground troops, to an extent that occasionally got him in trouble. Steve takes you into the life of young paratroopers in combat, into the mostly untold lives and actions of US Special Forces, into the rowdy squadrons and cramped cockpits of fighter pilots. Along the way, he preaches Jointness and inter-service cooperation, accepted by the “boots on the ground,” but often opposed by the parochialism of senior leaders in all services. The generals often talk a good game until it comes down to their dollars.
Whether the Vietnam War, Yom Kippur War, Turkish Invasion of Cyprus, Desert Storm or “black” special ops, Steve volunteered for or was at the right place at the right time. He captures the comradeship, dedication, and patriotism of these warriors and their families, raucous parties and the heartbreak of friends lost.
Steve believed people were his greatest assets and rewarded his troops, sometimes when it may have been unauthorized. But higher headquarters never knew. Ms. Joni Mitchell’s 1967 song “Both Sides Now” seems a perfect summary of Steve’s unique career.