BOOK REVIEW | Bloody Sixteen – The USS Oriskany and Air Wing 16 during the Vietnam War

By Peter Fey

A really good book by an author who knows his subject very well. It is full of accurate history, perceptive political judgement and acute comment. It also happens to contain appropriately excellent maps, a good glossary, a useful list of abbreviations and brilliant photographs. Practically everything you could want in a history except for a timeline and a dramatis personae.

This is a tragic story of brave young men killed or imprisoned thanks to political and bureaucratic ignorance and arrogance combined with military leadership incompetence. That is often the way in war but Vietnam seemed to bring out the absolute worst in America’s leadership.

Apart from the almost daily tale of operational woe, the author brilliantly sets that against the background of hopeless decision making by President Lyndon Johnson, his cabinet and the major military leaders. This book should be read carefully by any young man or woman, for that matter, who may be thinking of joining the military to go in harm’s way. If you do, choose your leaders very carefully. 

The men of USS Oriskany, unfortunately, could not.

Available from Potomac Books, University of Nebraska Press, USA and Casemate Publishers, Oxford, UK.


Neil Baird

Co-founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Baird Maritime and Work Boat World magazine, Neil has travelled the length and breadth of this planet in over 40 years in the business. He knows the global work boat industry better than anyone.