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June 16, 2006

Larry Lail helps inspire book

Order Swift Boat Down From Amazon A new book about the sinking of Navy Swift Boat PCF-19 off the coast of Vietnam was inspired in part by Vietnam veteran Larry Lail, its author says.

Author Jim Steffes said he began looking into what happened in June 1968 after speaking to fellow Vietnam veteran Larry Lail in 1995. Lail, who had the task of gathering the bodies from the wreckage, was still haunted by nightmares nearly 30 years after the incident, Steffes told the Macon Telegraph.

Together the two Vietnam vets began trying to locate the families of the deceased sailors, starting with the only information they had, their names and hometowns. "We just started calling phone numbers," Steffes said.

-- Macon.com

The book is called "Switch Boat Down." The official version of the sinking is it was hit by friendly fire from the Air Force, but Steffes believes it was hit by a North Vietnamese crew in a Russian-made helicopter. He says the military didn't want to accuse the Vietnamese of the sinking because of ongoing peace talks at the time.

I haven't read the book, but it sounds like an interesting tale.

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