Skip O'Neill lies dying of leukemia in a New York hospital, determined to live until the new millennium. His wasted body shows scant evidence of the man he once was-an Air Force fighter pilot and decorated combat veteran. O'Neill's first assignment as a young lieutenant places him among hard drinking World War II-and Korean War-era fighter pilots who quickly teach him their ways. He almost washes out of pilot training but is persistent and manages to graduate. In Vietnam, he proves to be a skillful and courageous pilot who faces dangers of all kinds with equanimity. But the greatest-and most deadly danger-materializes years after O'Neill volunteers to be an observer at an atomic test site. In the end, O'Neill decides that when his time comes, he will dash at it fearlessly. He anticipates being greeted by departed friends-but what awaits him is something totally unexpected.