Excellent description of his time in Vietnam. I was on the edge of my seat from the very start. There is also good humour in Tom's writing considering he could die at any moment. Better than Chickenhawk by an inch or so. Dont hesitate get it.
Lock n Load, I cannot recommend this book enough, and I aint even finished it yet!. Its a tough no nonesense, unglamourising story of a young chopper pilot, Tom A Johnson's experiance in Vietnam. Anybody interested in the Vietnam conflict, and especialy Helicopter warfare should read this gripping, excellent book. Its a seat of your paints read from beginning to end. You can almost hear that unmistakable whop, whop, of the Huey's rotor blades, and the plodding sound of the M60's belching lead into the jungle below as you breathlessly turn the pages. I rate it up there with Chicken Hawk by, Bob Mason. And Snake Pilot by, Randy Zahn. The Pilots, and crews who flew in these machines had grit, determination, and balls of steel. Some one need's to make a movie dedicated to these guys because their story has not yet been told by the movie industry in America. The American public owe these men the greatest respect! I salute you.
Of the many books I've read about helicopter flying in Vietnam, this is the first one worthy of comparison to Chickenhawk.
Books like this often struggle to balance detail and narrative but Tom Johnson gets the balance right. He gives us enough detail about the operations and practicalities to let us understand how complex the job of combat flying was but he doesn't let the detail overwhelm the story. If you want the experience of 'being right in the cockpit' then this is a must-read.
This book also has a terrific finale that is almost worthy of being a book in itself.
I have many vietnam books and this one will go on the shelf with them to read again, and not to the 2nd hand book shop! It has nice pace, is well written (as you read you see it happerning) as well as having nice size font. Will get the hair on your arms rising at times with the odd laugh thrown in. I want to be greedy and say it wasnt long enough, I just wanted to keep on reading!!!
I personally didn't think that this book was better than Chickenhawk which perhaps is because Chickenhawk was the book that made me fall in love with helicopters, hueys in particular, gave me an unhealthy interest in the Vietnam war and the men that fought in it and has resulted in me reading any Vietnam war book that i can get my hands on. That said ... this book was a very close second. Couldn't put it down once started.. i was flying those missions with him. One to buy...keep .... and to read over and over again!
I really enjoyed reading this. The author describes every piece of action in as fine detail as you could have possibly hoped for. The first chapter jumps straight into the action and you feel like you are actually in the huey they are flying. The vast amount of detail varies from call signs to exact dialogue. You can see the emotion that the author has and consequently it polishes of in the book. The only negative that this novel has is that you van sometimes get lost in all the detail and be confused by some of the sayings.
Absolutley brilliant and a good further read after Chickenhawk. The writing puts you in the seat during the missions and leaves you feeling drained when they land. An interesting account of Tom Johnson's tour with the Air Cav, and well worth a read.
This book is similar to Chickenhawk except that it stays almost totally "in the cockpit" of a huey so if you want the gory details of life as a Heli Pilot in Vietnam then ChickenHawk is better. However if you want almost "100% cockpit" , then To the Limit is better - certainly the description of rescueing a group of special forces on ropes tangled in trees and just how far you could over stress a Huey's transmission was excellent for even the most detail-demanding reader.
So yes a very readable book which is up with the best in this genre.