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The Flying Grunt (Hardback)

The Story of Lieutenant General Richard E. Carey, United States Marine Corps (Ret)

Military > Post-WWII Warfare > Korean War P&S History > Humanities > Biography & Memoirs

By Alan E Mesches
Imprint: Casemate Publishers
Pages: 240
Illustrations: B/W and colour
ISBN: 9781636242583
Published: 15th March 2023



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Richard Edward Carey came from a broken home. Enlisting in the Corps in 1945 he later earned a commission, fighting at Inchon and Chosin in Korea before becoming a pilot – flying every aircraft in the Marine arsenal. During his 38-year military career, he witnessed and participated in major historical events, though a high school wrestling injury would eliminate him from the Mercury-7 space program.

As a second lieutenant, he tackled General Douglas MacArthur on the way to Seoul in 1950. Carey would provide critical intelligence decisions enabling the successful defense of the Chinese attack on Hagaru-ri at the Chosin Reservoir. In 189 days of combat, he escaped death seven times, and was awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star Medals. In Vietnam he flew 204 combat sorties, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and 16 Air Medals. In 1975, from Saigon, Carey led history’s largest helicopter evacuation of refugees.

Subordinates praised his leadership and courage. Never afraid to stand up for his principles, Carey faced down an Air Force general in Vietnam, and organized air defense for supply helicopters at Khe Sahn; he countermanded a senior Naval officer’s order during the 1975 Saigon evacuation, refusing to cease air operations and forcing a reluctant ambassador onto a flight.


In retirement, Carey served as a cabinet member for the governor of Ohio and ran the airport in his native home of Columbus. When the Careys moved to Texas, Carey continued supporting veterans, advocating for veterans’ health care, aiding the drive to build accommodation for families of hospitalised veterans, and was a leader in the effort to build a veterans’ cemetery in Dallas. He would lead the drive to build two Chosin Few memorials even as he cared for his ailing wife.


This biography is based upon hours of interviews with the general, capturing an exceptional and inspiring life.

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