When Ed Mechenbier retired from the U.S. Air Force Reserve in June 2004, he held the distinction of being the oldest former Vietnamese POW and Air Force general still in uniform on flying status.
One of eight children made attending college financially difficult. When his father bet him $5 that he could get an appointment to the Air Force Academy, Ed accepted the challenge. That decision set the course for a career that lasted forty years.
During those years, Ed went from being a high-spirited fighter pilot full of hopes and dreams to a prisoner of war, held in the infamous Hanoi Hilton. He lived through hell at the merciless hands of prison guards and tortuous interrogators, but never lost his sense of humor or duty to his country. Life on a $5 Bet tells how he survived those dark days and went on to become a general officer by holding to values learned at the Academy: Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do.
Ed gives the reader a glimpse into his zany life as a test pilot, lobbyist, squadron commander, spy, member of the Reserve Forces Policy Board, golfer, syndicated television air show commentator, sales engineer with major aircraft companies, devoted family man, and pilot of the C-141, dubbed the Hanoi Taxi on a repatriation flight to Vietnam in 2004.
And, oh yes, he is still the world's greatest fighter pilot.