Embarking on an insightful journey through the 1970s American military, Jay Lacklen takes you on a rich and often enthralling adventure from pilot training to his surreal, nightmarish B-52 bomb run during the Vietnam War.
Bringing a fresh perspective to the era, Lacklen shows how the 1960s military draft diverted him from a prospective journalism career into an Air Force cockpit to avoid the rice patties of South Vietnam as an army rifleman. He speaks to the reader as a writer trying to become a pilot rather than the other way around.
Lacklen brings to life the world of war through a thoughtful and descriptive narrative full of poignant and tragic episodes, mixed with bawdy and hilarious tales (usually coming at the author’s expense) from 1970 to 1979 in this first book of a trilogy.
Ensnaring you with accounts of bomb runs over Cambodia and several episodes of his aircraft on the verge of crashing, Lacklen delves into the darkest moments of a pilot’s life with a writer’s eye for detail and descriptive ability.
Difficult subjects are faced head on, including encounters with hookers in Southeast Asia, a nuanced view of the North Vietnamese Army, and a surprising perspective on the Vietnam War protests including actress and activist Jane Fonda.
Lacklen explores many events of the time from the Kent State Massacre, to the fall of Saigon and the Mayaguez disaster as seen from U-Tapao AB, Thailand. Few military pilots have verbal tools to deliver the story so well.
The added feature of a contemporary soundtrack places you in the aura of the era as no written word can, such as the opening guitar notes from the song “We’ve got to get out of this place,” by the Animals, to the Vietnam theme songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival asking if you have ever seen the “rain” of B-52 bombs.
Step back to January 2, 1970 and let the decade-long Air Force journey begin, a journey all students of the era should undertake.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A FratBoy's Coming of Age Story – Not a Flying Story
If the reader is looking for a pilot's story about military flying don't choose this one.
The author sends 90% of the book being condescending toward the Air Force and America in general, and 10% on flying.
I'll DELETE my iBook version, happy I didn't buy it in paper as I would be embarrassed if anyone saw me donating it at a book exchange.
Great book made better by a history degree.
I consume many books over a years time. I trend towards biographical works especially those with an aviation theme. Of late I have read a couple books about SAC pilots and their experiences. This book caught my eye in the preview based on the author's stated view of history and its recording.
I really appreciated the "human condition" of this story. Reading about another's travails in traveling their path was interesting, especially as some of them shared the same lack of judgement I demonstrated in my younger years. This coupled with a period of national angst made for a book I read in one sitting.
Looking forward to the remaking books in this series.
A Return to a Complex Time
The Captain's (I knew Jay as a Captain) story returned me to the complex time of Vietnam, the Cold War, and the difficult thankless work we all did to protect this country of ours.
The reminders of our music, cars, lifestyle, and relative innocence of that era were well documented and much appreciated.
Both he and I had a love/hate relationship with Loring, SAC, Vietnam, and it seems the BS but necessary rules and regulations we had to follow. Being a sergeant for example, my relationships with the officers were strictly and discreetly off base. The ski hill in Edmunston, NB or the roller rink in Caribou or the bars of Van Buren were where we could be relaxed and on a first name basis.
Jay managed to capture, from a historical personal journal perspective, our lives and his experiences forty years ago.
For these memories I thank him.