CALL SIGN RUSTIC is an abbreviated version of the Rustic's book "THE RUSTICS - A TOP SECRET AIR WAR IN CAMBODIA.
army troops entered
About the Author
The Birth of a Book
Call Sign Rustic. The Secret Air War over
actually started in 1995
after a chance meeting between Claude Newland
(Rustic 19) and
The first Rustic reunion was held in 1997 and the attendees were told that there was no record of what they had done. Worse, a lot of the Rustics, particularly the interpreters, had never received the decorations they had earned and never would if there was no record of the operation.
The mood of the attendees shifted from disbelief to anger and finally to indignation and resolve. There absolutely would be a record of what they had done and there would be action to obtain recognition for those who deserved it but never received it.
A committee of volunteers was formed and
duties were assigned. Jim Gabel
(Rustic Bravo) was in charge of historical research and became the
arbiter of the chronology of events and how Cambodian place names would
Cambodians who had worked with the
Rustics and were living in the
The final draft was sent out to the
15-member book committee for comment
and technical review.
The book was self-published in a limited number of copies strictly for ourselves. It was a coffee table-sized book with nearly 300 pages and close to 150 pictures. It was distributed at our next reunion in the fall of 1999 and we liked it.
At the reunion, the question of a commercial version came up. I was not optimistic, but I agreed to explore that with some publishers. Sure enough, the consensus among publishers was that it was too long, too technical, and too full of individual stories. Since we were there, it wasn't too long or too technical for us and we liked the individual stories. They were our stories.
After a lot of discussion, I agreed to rewrite the book and submit it for publication. Since most of the research and data collection had already been done, we agreed that the Rustic FAC Association would receive 75% of any royalties and they would be used primarily for Cambodian relief.
The book was completely rewritten to the standards of the Smithsonian Institution Press. Mark Gatlin, the Smithsonian Editor for Aviation and Military History, was very helpful. The rewrite took about a year and without Mark's suggestions and encouragement, I don't think there would be a book.
The act of writing the book turned out to be an interesting experience for me. The Rustic operation lasted a little over three years and the standard combat tour for air force personnel was generally limited to one year. Thus none of us experienced the entire operation from start to finish. I was there when it started and I was fascinated to learn all that had happened after I left. When the end came in August of 1973, I could feel the same frustration and disappointment felt by those who were actually there. I hope I've been able to pass a little of that feeling on to the reader.
Call Sign Rustic
was published in 2002 and can be
purchased directly from the Rustic Store.
I hope you enjoy reading about this small and unrecorded
American history. It was one of the few positive things to come out of
Rustic 11, Col (ret) Dick Woods passed away on 31 May 2013