Candlestick: Night FAC over Laos by James Patrick Hyland
This is a terrific book that should be read by Vietnam Vets, military history buffs, anyone interested in airplanes and flying under stress, and anyone who enjoys stories of courage and adventure. It is one of the best military memoirs I have ever read. Having survived a lung transplant in 2013, in July of 2017 the VA Hospital hired me 20 hours a week to interview veterans and write their life stories for their care team and their families to read. To date, I’ve written 197 stories. This has developed my already acute BS detector to epic proportions. Hyland’s book has the ring of pure truth, warts and all. For a year he flew C-123s over the Ho Chi Minh Trail, calling in airstrikes on North Vietnamese convoys taking NVA troops and weapons to the Republic of Vietnam to kill American troops. The 165 missions he flew were highly dangerous. They repeated faced the kind of anti-aircraft fire the AAF saw over Germany in WWII. He and his nine-man crew would be on station for up to four hours, getting shot at most of the time. As a Marine who served in Vietnam a couple of years before he was there, I can tell you there are children and grandchildren of veterans alive today who owe their lives to Pat Hyland. I flew on C-123s a couple of times in and out of Khe Sanh in 1967 (when it was pretty quiet). I had no idea they were used as FACs. FACs around us were mostly O-1 Bird Dogs with only a pilot. Regardless, all FACs were heroes, saving countless lives. Hyland and his crew, and the other FACs who flew with him, deserve a salute, our thanks, and our gratitude. You won’t go wrong with this book.