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Flying Tigers over Cambodia: An American Pilot’s Memoir of the 1975 Phnom Penh Airlift Reviews

At the end of World War II, a number of former American military pilots formed the “Flying Tiger Line,” which soon became the world’s leading airfreight company. Its motto of “Anything, anytime, anywhere” was especially applicable in its humanitarian projects. In 1975, the Flying Tigers took part in relief efforts for Cambodians surrounded by Khmer Rouge forces. The “Ricelift” exposed the Tiger pilots to enormous risk. Though they were technically “noncombatants,” all this really meant was that they couldn’t shoot back. This is the memoir of Larry Partridge who, in his plane, nicknamed “Nancy” after his wife, flew 52 missions into Phnom Penh, delivering rice and other supplies in hostile conditions. After the collapse of Saigon and the victory of the Khmer Rouge, the ricelifts ceased. This account, from a Tiger’s-eye view, includes both history and human drama in a remarkable but completely true story

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April 17, 1975—the Communist Khmer Rouge Regime seized power and forced Cambodians of all ages into slavery, turning their lives upside down. This resulted in the death of more than 1.5 million Cambodians out of roughly 8 million population due to forced labor, starvation, and execution.

Author Vatey Seng was only thirteen years old when the Khmer Rouge took control. The Price We Paid is her vivid and haunting memoir of the atrocities of the regime. Vatey recounts everything from the initial occupation through the indoctrination and application of the Khmer Rouge’s ways of life. Every aspect of her family’s life was impacted as the new government achieved its goals through child labor, slavery, and genocide. Vatey’s memories provide a glimpse into what the people of Cambodia endured during this dark regime—a regime that totally devastated her beloved country. The Price We Paid also follows the aftermath of the regime. Vatey and her family fled the country and stayed in refugee camps in Thailand, the processing center in the Philippines, and then immigrated to America in 1982.

Twenty-five years later, she has gathered the courage and strength to finally tell her story—a story shared by countless Cambodian survivors who still bear the psychological scars of their traumatic experiences. This is the price they paid for the Khmer Rouge revolution.

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