'Chickenhawk' Robert Mason's account of his time as a combat helicopter pilot in Vietnam. I vividly remember first reading this when I was 9, and it blew my young mind all over the ceiling. Introduces a whole stable of pilots, from the insane (taking off through a stand of trees like a weedeater), the idiotic (killed trying to lasso a turning rotor), the cowardly (the pilot who hid under his flak jacket after each takeoff), and the guys that were just there.
Some of the stories are darkly humorous like the soldier who slammed his grenade launcher onto the deck of the chopper, fired it up through the roof, and landed the unexploded shell next to the cockpit. Or the ridiculous like the med evaced soldier who was shot in one side of his helmet, the bullet traveled around the inside of his scalp between the helmet and skull, and exited out the other end; the doctors couldn’t figure out why he had been shot directly through the head like a Steve Martin bow and arrow hat and was still alive.
PTSD is discussed, and it sounds terrifying. His wife actually wrote one of the best regarded manuals on dealing with returning vietnam vets. Mason went on to write a sequel to this book called Chickenhawk: Back in the World discussing his post-war career as a drug smuggler in south of the border, and his jail time afterwards.
This book is nuts, folks, if you like a good war story, or just wondered what Vietnam was like beyond the usual cliches, you’re going to love it. RAW!!!!