ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Larry Freeland was born in Ohio into a multi-generational military family. His father was an officer with the U.S. Air Force, which meant Freeland grew up on several bases across the country. After graduating from high school at Ramey Air Force Base in Puerto Rico, he attended the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. 

The author and former United States Army Veteran, served five years in the U.S. Army with one tour in Vietnam as an infantry officer and CH-47 helicopter pilot in the 101st Airborne Division. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Air Medal with 10 Oak Leaf Clusters, as well as the Vietnam Service Medal with three Bronze Stars. 

Chariots in the Sky: A Story About U.S. Assault Helicopter Pilots At War In Vietnam is Freeland’s historical novel that leans on his real-life experience.

Upon release from active duty in 1973, he returned to civilian life and pursued a career in the Financial Industry. Freeland now writes and lives in North Georgia with his wife Linda, a retired school teacher. He continues to be an active member of Veterans Association, including the Veterans Alliance, MOAA-Military Officers Association of America, VHPA-Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, Veterans Affairs of Dawson County, DAV-Disable American Veterans, as well as a lifetime member of the Corvette Museum. The couple is involved in various organizations, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Veteran-related organizations. They are the parents of two daughters, three grandsons, and two granddaughters. 

The author is presently working on his second novel, another historical novel that pulls from his long lineage of family service. Freeland’s family served in five wars, spanning three generations in the armed forces. This new novel will focus on a protagonist young soldier during WWI and will be the first in a trilogy expected to be released in 2022.  

ABOUT THE BOOK

Chariots in the Sky: A Story About U.S. Assault Helicopter Pilots At War In Vietnam brings readers right into the human experiences of a U.S. combat helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War. 

Freeland’s novel is a work of fiction, but deeply pulls from his own personal experience as a Vietnam Infantry Officer and a CH-47 helicopter pilot, and the people he met throughout the war. During his time in Vietnam, the author kept a diary, which ultimately helped to create his fictional protagonist, Captain Taylor St. James. Freeland drew from his old entries and experiences, some of which he had kept to himself for many years, to create a work of immersive historical fiction that follows the brave and morally-aligned Capt. James through the Vietnam War as a UH-1 Huey Assault helicopter pilot. 

Capt. Taylor St. James (T.J.) is assigned to the Eagles, a Huey Assault Company with the 101st Airborne Division in I Corps, with missions into A Shau Valley, Khe Sanh, Quang Tri Province, Hue, DMZ, North Vietnam and Laos. The young pilot and his comrades fly harrowing combat missions swooping over treetops, deal with temperamental weather, temperamental mechanical problems of their Huey Assault Helicopters, as well as costly human error. 

When not in the air, T.J. and his crewmates are harassed by rocket attacks and sappers in the wire, while flying his missions he discovers the North Vietnamese are not his only enemy as he copes with a glory-hungry commander. And throughout this tight-rope of duties and realizations, he wants only to do his job, survive the war and return home to his wife Sandy and family. Taylor is challenged and tested beyond any measure he could have ever envisioned through Vietnam and ultimately Lam Son 719 – the last major American offensive operation of the Vietnam War, a harrowing event that took place over 60 days with Americans providing helicopter support in Laos. This historical campaign involved over 750 helicopters flying in and out of Laos, supporting the South Vietnamese incursion into Laos. Lam Son 719 was the costliest period of helicopter warfare for the Americans. More helicopters were shot down and sustained battle damage than any other period during the Vietnam War.

Chariots in the Sky shows the graveness and intensity of war, while the author’s lived-experience and evocative style of writing gives readers a complete protagonist with a complexity of emotions. Capt. James has moments where he questions his purpose in Vietnam and whether he’s making the right choices, for himself and those around him. An honest and gripping portrayal of what would become one of America’s most contentious wars. 

TALKING POINTS

  • Freeland can give first-hand experience of the last major American combat operation of the Vietnam War, Lam Son 719. A major incursion into Laos, which lasted 60 days and was the costliest period of the war for helicopter pilots.
  • What it was like to fly combat helicopters in Vietnam, specifically the CH-47 
  • The trauma of war, and the coping mechanism used and available to veterans
  • Camaraderie of service, what it means to be a member of the Armed Forces and the link service creates between veterans
  • Fiction pulled from experience, how writing from lived-experience builds a gripping and honest narrative
  • Freeland is active in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in Georgia and believes strongly in helping the foundation raise funds.
  • The relevance and connections of the Vietnam War to America’s military actions today, in particular the current situation in Afghanistan, and how the media narrative impacts veterans

TIMELY TIE-INS

  • National POW/MIA Recognition Day – September 17
  • Air Force (USAF) Birthday – September 18
  • National Work and Family Month – October
  • The Georgia Cystic Fibrosis Foundation “Wine & Roses Gala” October 9, 2021
  • Day of the Deployed – October 26
  • First week of November National Veterans Small Business Week
  • Veteran’s Day – November 11

PRAISE

“Capt. Taylor St. James, known among his fellow soldiers as TJ, is a helicopter pilot in the Army deployed to Vietnam in 1971. He belongs to a Huey Assault Helicopter Company—part of the 101st Airborne Division—a group deeply involved in Lam Son 719, one of the key combat operations of the war and one in which helicopter pilots contributed heroically and suffered tremendous losses. Freeland chronicles these perilous missions with impressive historical accuracy, capturing not only the danger of the missions, but the ethos of the helicopter pilot and the creed, or “Helicopter Wisdom,” that guided them through the terrors of war.” – Kirkus Reviews 

“Larry Freeland’s Chariots in the Sky is a riveting novel of air combat action during Lam Son 719, one of the last big American combat operations of the Vietnam War. He has written a great book about men who control their fears and fly into action knowing they need to be prepared to handle whatever happens.” – Bill McCloud, Vietnam Veterans of America