Mark Berent spent over 20 years in the USAF, logging over 4,350 hours, more than 1,000 in combat. During his three tours in the war, Berent earned the Silver Star, two DFCs, over two dozen Air Medals, A Bronze Star, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and the Legion of Merit.
His first four books present stories based around flying the
F-4 Phantom during the Vietnam conflict, a subject to which he obviously brings a wealth of personal experience. There are great descriptions of Forward Air Control missions, Wild Weasel and Special Ops on the ground.
I enjoy his books and often read the passages relating to air action over and over. There is also a wealth of tactical information here for sim buffs.
Mark Berent served in the Air Force for more than twenty years, first as an enlisted man and then as an officer. He has logged 4,350 hours of flying time, over 1,000 of them in Combat. During his three Vietnam tours, Berent earned not only the Silver Star but two Distinguished Flying Crosses, over two dozen air medals, the Bronze Star, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and the Legion of Merit.
Mark Berent is admirably suited to write his five-book Vietnam airwar series for he lived each story. He served four years and one day in Vietnam during the period from November 1965 until August 1973.
As a captain he flew 265 missions in the F-100 in 1966 from Bien Hoa Air Base in South Vietnam. While off duty he flew with FACs in their 0-1 aircraft to better understand the war. He also spent much time with the Special Forces III Corps Mike Force including going on patrol with them in the Loc Ninh area.
His next tour was as a major flying F-4Ds out of Ubon Air Base in Thailand. He flew over 200 missions, first as a flight commander in the Night Owls Squadron then as commander of the famous Wolf FACs. Both units flew over North Vietnam and all of Laos. Berent spent hundreds of hours over the Ho Chi Minh Trail both as a night strike pilot and as a fast FAC controlling strikes against guns and trucks he found on the Trail.
As a lieutenant colonel he served from July 1971 to August 1973 first as assistant air attaché then as air attaché in the US Embassy, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. While there, besides flying hundreds of hours in the U-10 and C-47 gathering vital intelligence, he also logged time with the Khmer (Cambodian) Air Force in their T-28, 0-1, UH-1, and AC-47 aircraft. Additionally, he spent much time with the Khmer ground forces teaching them to use air power. In January 1973 when the war was over with Vietnam for US forces, all of the massive air power resources were made available for use in Cambodia until August 15th when the last mission was flown. Due to a fluke in timing, the USAF command post in Saigon was unable to immediately shift full command to its new site in Thailand. During that period, Berent and his team ran the air war in Cambodia from a most unusual place.
When asked why he kept going back, he replied: "A lot of reasons; because it was there, because I wanted a MiG, because when the threat goes up the paperwork goes down and the weinies run for cover, but mostly because the guys were still fighting. Everyday I'd pick up a paper and find another buddy KIA, MIA, or POW. I just couldn't stay on the beach."
Now he writes about these men. He has five books out; Rolling Thunder, Steel Tiger, Phantom Leader, Eagle Station, and Storm Flight. Although historical fiction, the books are about the men and women who gave everything they had in a war they weren't allowed to win. FAC pilots, Phantom crews, Thud, Hun, and Buff crews, gunship pilots and gunners, green berets, grunts, carrier jocks, MAC contract stews, boomers and tankers, from corporals to colonels; the whole nine yards about the day-to-day heroism and the heroes we all know and loved...and some we hated. By way of contrast, LBJ in the Oval Office and McNamara in the Pentagon E Ring are included and the words they spoke as they picked strike targets over lunch are included in great detail, yes indeed. As are those of Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden. His books have won critical acclaim from Chuck Yeager, Dale Brown, WEB Griffin, Steve Koontz, and numerous newspaper and magazine critics.
Berent now resides in Arizona and rides in Montana roundups. He is a frequent guest speaker at Oshkosh, F-16 graduation banquets, and corporate functions.