Hammer from Above: Marine Air Combat Over Iraq (Paperback)
In Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Marine Corps’ ground campaign up the Tigris and Euphrates was notable for speed and aggressiveness unparalleled in military history. Little has been written, however, of the air support that guaranteed the drive’s success. Paving the way for the rush to Baghdad was “the hammer from above”–in the form of attack helicopters, jet fighters, transport, and other support aircraft. Now a former Marine fighter pilot shares the gripping never-before-told stories of the Marines who helped bring to an end the regime of Saddam Hussein.
As Jay Stout reveals, the air war had actually been in the planning stages ever since the victory of Operation Desert Storm, twelve years earlier. But when Operation Iraqi Freedom officially commenced on March 20, 2003, the Marine Corps entered the fight with an aviation arm at its smallest since before World War II. Still, with the motto “Speed Equals Success,” the separate air and ground units acted as a team to get the job done.
Drawing on exclusive interviews with the men and women who flew the harrowing missions, Hammer from Above reveals how pilots and their machines were tested to the limits of endurance, venturing well beyond what they were trained and designed to do. Stout takes us into the cockpits, revealing what it was like to fly these intense combat operations for up to eighteen hours at a time and to face incredible volumes of fire that literally shredded aircraft in midair during battles like that over An Nasiriyah .
With its dynamic descriptions of perilous flights and bombing runs, Hammer from Above is a worthy tribute to the men and women who flew and maintained the aircraft that so inspired their brothers in arms and terrified the enemy.
About the Author
Lt. Col. Jay A. Stout, USAF, retired currently works as a senior aviation analyst for one of the world s preeminent defense corporations. During his twenty-year military career he logged a remarkable 4,700 flight hours, including thirty-seven combat missions during Operation Desert Storm. His writing has been read on the floor of the US Senate, and he has been widely hosted as an aviation and military expert on various television and radio news shows, including Fox, NPR, and Al Jazeera. He is the author of several works of military history.
Advance praise for Hammer from Above
“Powerful–a gritty insider’s tale as only a fighter pilot could tell it.”
“This is the real thing, a solid and readable account of the role Marine air support played in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Jay Stout is a veteran Marine pilot who knows how to write, especially about Marine aviation. He understands–as only someone who has been there can–the hundreds of decisions a flier makes on a difficult mission, and he describes them memorably. If you’ve ever wondered what it is like to fly in combat, read this book.”
–Thomas E. Ricks, author of Making the Corps and A Soldier’s Duty
“The 2003 ground war in Iraq has been thoroughly reported by embedded correspondents and those who fought it. Hammer from Above now brings an entirely new perspective to the conflict. Jay Stout unflinchingly portrays the battle through the lens of the Marines who fought in the skies above Iraq. He has skillfully woven the first-person stories of these men and women into a compelling tale of bravery and chance in the crucible of combat that will become an enduring part of the history of the Iraq War.”
–Jon Hoffman, author of Chesty: The Story of Lieutenant General Lewis B. Puller, USMC
“A brilliant and exciting battle account of the ‘Flying Leathernecks’ who bravely supported their brother grunts in Iraq. It truly captures the emotions, actions, and feel of that battlefield unlike any other writing.”
–Gen. Tony Zinni, USMC (Retired)
“A veteran aviator’s superb account of a short, sharp war. A revealing portrait of airpower at its finest–supporting the riflemen on the ground–Jay Stout’s book does a great service not only for the Marine Corps and our country, but for readers everywhere.”
–Ralph Peters, author of Beyond Baghdad: Postmodern War and Peace