The US government has an unspoken pledge with every man and woman it sends into battle: you may be wounded doing your duty, you may even be killed, but you won't be left behind... On 20 March 1971, during the largest helicopter battle in history, an American chopper on a daring rescue mission exploded in the skies over Laos.
Its scorched remains fell onto terrain about which allied forces knew little except that it was hostile - jungle so dense with North Vietnamese that going after the dead crewmen was out of the question. And so two highly decorated pilots and a pair of gunners who had each earned the Silver Star for heroism earlier that day were left where they lay: four among the 2,583 US servicemen whose bodies remained unrecovered at war's end. 30 years later and a team of soldiers and scientists ventures back into that battlefield to dig among the unexploded bombs and landmines, in ground slick from monsoon rains, in jungle infested with leeches, giant centipedes and poisonous snakes, to find those four crew and to bring them home.
Its mission is one of dozens conducted every year, in Asia, Europe and the scattered islands of the Pacific - to locate and bury America's war dead and to put a name - the right name - on each headstone. WHERE THEY LAY tells the story of this recovery team and its elusive employer: the U.S.
Army's Central Identification Laboratory - the world's largest forensic science lab.
Part history, part travelogue, part scientific adventure, it chronicles the years-long effort to find the remains of those heroes, culminating in an expedition into a land that even today is virtually invisible to the world at large.
It has all the makings of a classic of modern warfare - and its aftermath.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 400 pages, B&W photos
- Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
- Publication Date: 01/11/2004
- Category: Asian history
- ISBN: 9780553814446