Blades of Thunder: Book One (Paperback)
ARMY AVIATION Magazine, November 2015 BOOK REVIEW by MG (Retired) Rudy Ostovich: "There have been a number of excellent books published on the Vietnam War but none come close to telling the inside story of life and death as an Army aviator flying and fighting a "Huey" in combat as told by Larry Dandridge in his book Blades of Thunder (Book One). This non-fiction, autobiography, and Vietnam War history book tells the story of six young Army aviators, flight school classmates, who go to Vietnam in the fall of 1968 and are forever changed. Some died, some were wounded. All those who returned brought back emotional scars that will never really go away. Larry tells the story as can only be told by someone who has experienced combat firsthand with not much more than sheet metal and Plexiglas separating them from enemy fire. For those who were there, his story resurrects memories long ago put away back in the deep recesses of your mind. Once again you can hear the clicking of igniters as you pull the trigger to start your engine, feel the vibrations of the rotor as it gains operational speed, experience the comfort of making it through translational lift into forward flight with a grossly overweight aircraft, and smell the distinctive aroma of gunpowder as you take the fight to the enemy. Yes, he also brings back those feelings of anxiety and fear as you drive your aircraft into the fight; the pain and deep sorrow of losing a friend; the remembrances of heat, sweat, stench, blood, fatigue and chaos; and, the joy of surviving to live and fight another day. Larry takes the reader into the details of our business. 46 annotated photos and generous, informative appendices provide an informal class on the tools of our trade: the components of a UH-1B rocket pod and machine gun assembly; the essential elements of an OH-6A "Loach" to include cyclic, collective, armored seats, grenades and mini-gun; and a host of other switches, gauges, etc., to include the hook over the pilot's door in a Huey on which to hang your helmet. Larry even offers an appendix of over 24 mini-biographies of the key characters in the book, showing that, if they survived, they each became successful family men and leaders in every field of business and government. Nothing is left out. He also employs an interesting literary style of beginning each chapter with a reconstructed letter, authored by one of the main characters of the story, and representative of the letters we used to write before email, text messaging, Facebook, or other forms of messaging so common to our communication patterns today. Blades of Thunder is more than a story about Vietnam. It combines a realistic narrative of combat operations with a human dimension, the physical and psychological toll imposed on those who survived. While learning about their experiences, Larry gives you a window into the lives of crew chiefs and door gunners whose job extends beyond flight when the aircraft is once again safely tucked into its revetment, the battery switch is off and the blades are tied down. Timeless lessons on leadership abound. Through his narrative you witness the importance of technical proficiency, leading by example, working as part of team, gaining the trust of those you lead, tactical competence, and so many other attributes of a leader who is able to prompt soldiers to do things they wouldn't ordinarily want to do. If you want to know what life was like for assault helicopter, medical evacuation, and air cavalry troop pilots in Vietnam, read Blades of Thunder (Book 1). Of course, it's available at Amazon.com, but I recommend you email Larry at LDandridge@earthlink.net or call him at 843-276-7164 for your own personalized and signed copy. By the way, all proceeds (all 2015 Profits and one dollar from the sale of each book in 2016) from the sale of his book are pledged as a donation to the Fisher House Charleston.
Larry Dandridge is the CEO/senior writer with TV&V Publishing, LLC. His leadership, aerospace, business, and logistics articles have been published in over 23 magazines and newspapers, and two books in the US, Germany, and England. He is the past CEO of CLC Hospice, LLC. He worked 23 years in aerospace as a regional and program manager, quality manager, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, and proposals/marketing manager. He is an Army ex-enlisted infantryman; ex-aviation warrant officer; and ex-combat attack, utility/scout helicopter pilot; Army ex-fixed wing single/multi-engine pilot, flight examiner, maintenance test pilot, and instructor pilot. He is Vietnam era wounded warrior and retired Army Lt. Colonel. Larry is an FAA Certified Flight Instructor. He has an FAA Commercial Pilot license in helicopters, airplanes, instruments, and academics. He is a graduate of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University (BS in Aeronautical Science), Florida Institute of Technology (MS Transportation Mgt), the Armed Forces Staff College (Logistics/Joint Ops), Haus Rissen Institute (strategic think tank), and dozens of other military aviation, logistics, and contracting schools. Larry has a CA College Teaching Credential in Aeronautics, Industrial Operations, and Military Science. He is an honors graduate from 3 police academies in AL and MO. He has served as an company commander, battalion XO and Operations officer, a division maintenance officer, a US-German negotiator, a SW Asia adviser, aviation science officer, transportation officer, locomotive operator, and maintenance chief at the Army Aviation Center. Military awards include 4 Sliver Quill Writing Awards, Purple Heart, German Silver Cross, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, Combat Air Medals, Legion of Merit, Joint Meritorious Service Medal, 5 Meritorious Service Medals, Commendation Medal, & others. His civilian awards include the AUSA Brenda M. Dougherty Award, 3 Exceptional Service Awards, Significant Achievement Award, and President's Award; the VA Volunteer/Sponsor Award and Special Achievement Award; MOAA's Robert J. Lahm Award. He is a member of the West Point Logistics Hall of Fame. He is married and has 5 children. He owns 2 miniature Greyhounds. He loves writing, dogs, tennis, fishing, and reading. He is currently writing Book 2 of Blades of Thunder. He is contracted to write 2 police suspense thrillers and a children's book. He welcomes contact at LDandridge@earthlink.net and 843-276-7164.