The year is 1970, and John T. Halliday has just landed in the middle of the Vietnam War, primed to begin his assignment with the 606 Special Operations Squadron. But there's a catch: He's stationed in a kind of no-man's-land. No one on his base flies with ID, patches, or rank. Even as Richard Nixon firmly denies reporters' charges that the U.S. has forces in Laos, Halliday realizes that from his base in Thailand, he will be flying top-secret black ops night missions over the Laotian Ho Chi Minh Trail.
A naive yet thoughtful 24-year-old, Halliday is utterly unprepared for the horrors of war. On his first mission, Halliday's aircraft dodges more than a thousand anti-aircraft shells. Nothing is as he expected, not the operations, not the way his shell-shocked fellow pilots look and act, and certainly not the squadron's daredevil, seat-of-one's-pants approach to piloting. But before long, Halliday has become one of those seasoned and shell-shocked pilots and finds himself in a desperate search for a way to elude certain death.
A powerhouse fusion of pathos and humor, brutal realism and intimate reflection, Flying Through Midnight is a landmark contribution to Vietnam War literature, revealing previously top-secret intelligence on the 606's night missions. Fast-paced, thrilling, and bitingly intelligent, Halliday's writing illuminates it all: the heart-pounding air battles, the close friendships, the crippling fear, and the astonishing final escape that made the telling of it possible.
©2005 John T. Halliday; (P)2005 Tantor Media, Inc.
"With snappy prose, machine-gun-fast dialogue, and techno-pilot speak, he recreates his forays with immediacy." (Publishers Weekly)
I served in the same unit as the author at about the same time. The exploit that is described in the last third of the book is indeed heroic. However, the rest of the descriptions of the mission and dangers of the squadron are vastly over stated. The writing is simplistic. Worst of all is the reader, who makes the story sound like a farce. I had hoped this book would explain to my wife my life in the war. She and I were so embarrassed by this audio book, I had to turn it off.
As previous reviewers have noted, the author of this book often came off as being whiny and somewhat spineless. Being a former military helicopter pilot, I found the author's story very interesting and familiar... it's a great story overall. But the lavish, lengthy descriptions of the author's internal feelings, fears, and emotions were just way over done and almost nauseating to listen to. It's like he felt the need to stretch the book out by embellishing on his fears and doubts. Don't get me wrong, I have absolutely no problem with a person being sensitive and in touch with their emotions, but way to much text and time was spent in this book on them almost making it unbearable to listen to. Yes tell us you were afraid, but like any well trained military pilot, just move on and tell us how you did your job. Sheez!
I nearly quit listening to this wonderful yarn after about 2 hours: The narrator's style was so off-putting. The gent is unable to convincingly emote incredulity, surprise,disgust,disbelief, or any similar mood. It all comes out as a cowardly whine. Unemotional dialogue was good, however. The story is a wonderfully irreverant memoir of JT's experience the Air Force at war. As a contemporary of Mr Haliday, but in the Navy, I can vouch for the accuracy of the "church of the Air Force," being familiar with another denomination of the same church, the Navy. The story was organized well, almost as though we were talking over a couple of Coors. As much as I enjoyed the tale in hindsight, I would not endure the narrator again, no matter how good the story seemed to be. Story: 5-stars; narration: 0-stars.
I am inclined to believe the reviewers who criticize the accuracy/honesty of these stories. The reason I don't recommend this audiobook is that the author sounds like a total weasel. Damn, this guy whines like a looser. Look... we all know that fighting a secret war in a complete hellhole is a hard thing to do. I have enormous respect for the people who have served this country during our most challenging times. But I feel like telling this guy to just man up. Its hot... my quarters are bad... nobody trained me... My wife didn't have any money! Good thing this guy wasn't an inlisted man with four kids carrying an M16 through rice patties. He would have melted into a puddle of tears. I am sure it doesn't help that the narrator sounds like a whiner too... bad choice.
Anyway, I am easy to please. I love all things aviation, I love history, and I love audiobooks. However, this audiobook I do not recommend.
This is a great book that works particularly well in the audio format. It provides a valuable insight into the struggles of a junior officer learning how to keep himself and his crew alive in combat, particularly in an environment that is totally unsupportive. This is a must listen for students of military aviation and anyone interested in the struggles of the US Air Force during the Vietnam war.
I'm honestly embarrassed for the author. I thought I was buying a book on Vietnam era Air Force Special Operations combat flying. What I got was a 15 hour whine about living conditions faulty air conditioning, bad mattresses, knucklehead co-pilots and late paychecks.
As a former combat pilot with multiple deployments and three kids also with multiple deployments as ground fighters in the current wars, The author should be ashamed for even bringing this book to market.
Certainly, there are GREAT Air Force contributors - JFACs, A-10s and AC-130s are effective, underrated and in very high demand. Unfortunately, for most of the rest of the service, this story simply reinforces the stereotype of Air Force officers as blue-suited prima donnas with very little regard for the real warriors on the ground.
Don't waste your money or time.
One of the best!
This is the first one I've heard.
The story builds to a riviting finsh and a rewarding end. It gets better and better as the story unfolds. You get to know and love the characters as they face the struggle with the contradictions that faced them in the war in Viet Nam, politically and militarily. Sweat with them in the oven like atmosphere inside the planes and weep with them in the quiet moments in the solitude of their minds as they try to make sense of the events of their daily lives.
This book was not what I expected. It turned out to be more a story than history and was far more enoyable as a result. Do yourself a favor and read this book!
Married (1975), Vietnam-era (not in-country) vet (USN Retired), 4 sons, 11 grandkids, love riding my Harley.
I could not stop listening! This audio book takes you from the time a young, nieve "J. T." Halliday arrives to his assignment (a last minute change from orders to Vietnam) in Cambodia with the "Candlesticks" flying the C-123. What he initially anticipated to be mundane cargo missions turning into nerve rattling night illumination flights over the Ho Chi Min trail.
The book is not all about the action. It touches on the mental changes a serviceman went through during his 1-year tour "in-country" during the Vietnam war. "When you go to the BX, only look at the items on one shelf...it'll give you something to look forward to later." or the fascination of watching "bubbles" form in the plastic of a six-pack as it is stretched to the breaking point... or reading can labels.
A definite must-read!
An amazing story of how it really was over there flying missions and learning how to fight the real war versus the fictional war as it was thought to be in the minds of the politicians and the military leaders. Entertaining and engrossing. One for the collection.
Few books have been able to hold me the way that this book has. It would be OK if it were fiction, but the fact that it is non-fiction really drew me into the story.
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