Blue Ridge author, Vietnam helicopter pilot shares experiences

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CUMMING, Ga. — Raland J. Patterson, who served as a helicopter pilot with the 1st Cavalry Division in 1970-71, talked about his latest book “Bear Cat” at the Nov. 5 meeting of the Cumming chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Patterson, of Blue Ridge, Ga., talked about dodging enemy fire in a Huey Helicopter over the jungles of Vietnam. The author reviewed the slightly fictionalized, autobiographical account of his tour of duty and shared with his audience the off-beat characters and incidents that seem to make life during the stress of war humorous, if not downright comical.

Patterson, a financial planner by profession, has six books to his credit, three of them set at least partially in Vietnam.

The author brings an insider’s knowledge of military protocol and experience that can only come with combat experience and a 22-year military career.

During his Vietnam tour when he was a captain, Patterson earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star and 14 Air Medals.

He captivated his audience of Vietnam veterans by dispelling common myths about the Vietnam War and the men and women who served in that war.

Among them:

Two-thirds of the men who served in Vietnam were volunteers, compared to two-thirds of the men who served in World War II who were draftees.

The average infantryman who served in the South Pacific in WWII saw about 40 days of combat in four years. The average infantryman in Vietnam saw about 240 days of combat in one year, thanks to the mobility provided by helicopters.

The average age of the 58,148 men and women killed in Vietnam was 23.

Patterson’s books are available at rjpattersonbooks.com or at amazon.com.