Chariots in the Sky: A Story of Vietnam Assault Helicopter Pilots at War
I've written my novel, "Chariots in the Sky" as a historical fiction story. I did not want to write a story about one man or one of the aircrew's personal experiences in Vietnam. But rather, I wanted to take the reader on a ride through the eyes and exploits of one fictional character, Captain Taylor St. James. He is the embodiment of a combat helicopter pilot in Vietnam. It is through his exploits and adventures that the reader will gain a better understanding of what it was like for pilots and aircrews during the Vietnam War. Those who served in Vietnam as pilots and aircrew members may certainly relate to some of Taylor's experiences, thoughts, and feelings about the Vietnam War. For those readers who may not be familiar with that period of our collective history, I hope that you would find this reading experience insightful, educational, and rewarding.
This novel is a work of fiction. All characters and military call signs used in this book are fictional. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Some of the military units were real. However, all of the characters associated with them in this book are fictional. Although many settings are referred to by their real names and certain military operations did occur, they are used as backdrops for the fictional characters and incidents depicted in the book.
Join Captain Taylor St. James, along with his friends and comrades, as they fly harrowing combat missions, cover for each other, deal with bad weather, mechanical problems, and human error during the later part of the Vietnam War. When not flying, they are harassed by rocket attacks and sappers in the wire. Taylor discovers the North Vietnamese are not his only enemy as he copes with the pressures put on him by a commander more interested in personal glory than his men's well being.
This story centers on Captain Taylor St. James, a dedicated Army helicopter pilot, who is sent to Vietnam. Taylor wants to do his job, survive the war, and return home to his wife Sandy and family. Who wants to be the last man to die in Vietnam? While performing his duties, Taylor will be challenged and tested beyond any measure he could have ever envisioned.
He's assigned to the Eagles, a Huey Assault Company with the 101st Airborne Division. Taylor's unit is stationed at Phu Bai Base in the northern part of South Vietnam, know as I Corp. The Eagles fly missions throughout the northern region. Their flying exploits take them into many familiar places to include: A Shau Valley, Khe Sanh, Quang Tri Province, Hue, DMZ, North Vietnam, and Laos. Along the way, Taylor participates in Lam Son 719. This was the largest, sustained helicopter operation ever conducted. It occurred during the last major American Offensive Operation of the Vietnam War.
As I look back over my life, I would say that my year in Vietnam serving with the 101st Airborne Division as an Infantry Officer and CH-47 Chinook pilot was the most challenging, demanding, and many times the most intense I've ever experienced. It was also one of the most rewarding. During this time, I trained, served, and flew with many brave men. All were courageous, compassionate, dedicated, and professional. I have not experienced that level of dedication and comradeship in an organization since leaving the military service in 1973. My novel is dedicated to those men who served as helicopter pilots and aircrew members during the Vietnam War. In my opinion, these are some of the finest men America has ever produced.