What are you doing now: I was the Chaplain for VFW Memorial Post 7997 in Old Orchard Beach 2011-2013
Chair and founder of POW/MIA Recognition Day weekend in Old Orchard Beach Maine.
Today, I suport all my brothers and sisters who served. I Belong to several veterans groups and enjoying retirement life in Florida. I do guest speaker enguagements, if they are within reach. Perhaps, I will someday finish writing a second book.
After dropping out of School in 1965, I worked until I had to register for the draft. Vietnam was heating up and I knew that as soon as I signed up for the draft, they would draft me because I had dropped out of school. Therefore, after talking to the recruiter, I volunteered for the one hundred and twenty day delayed entry program. The recruiter told me that I could become a helicopter mechanic, if I passed the test, which he assured me I could. This would keep me out of the infantry and off the front lines, if I went to Vietnam. That was in December 1966 and I was to report to Springfield Massachusetts in March 1967.
I reported to Springfield MA on March 13 and soon thereafter, I was on my way to Fort Jackson South Carolina, where they lined us up before shipping us to basic training. My basic training was at Fort Gordon Georgia. After Basic training, I received promotion orders to PVT E2 and orders to attend helicopter mechanic school at Fort Rucker Alabama. I was excited and thought, ‘WOW’ the recruiter had told me the truth, I was going to become a mechanic. After a short trip home to see family, I was off to Fort Rucker to train to be a Helicopter mechanic.
Basic Aviation Mechanics (67A10) came easy for me and when the Rotory Wing course (Huey 67N20) started, I was named class leader. At the end of the course, I received another promotion to PFC E-3 and was placed on a hold over list. I said goodbye to my fellow classmates and waited on orders to leave. When my orders came, I went home for a short leave, said goodbye to my family and soon was off to Fort Lewis Washington and waited for orders to ship off to Vietnam.
When I arrived in Vietnam in November 1967, my assignment was with Charley Battery 2nd Battalion 20th Artillery of the 1st Calvary Division. I could not believe it, I am going into an artillery unit and I have an aviation MOS. Arriving at my unit I discovered that this was not a typical artillery unit; it was an Aerial Rocket Artillery unit. I would be working on the helicopters, so this would be okay. I was in for another BIG SURPRISE, an almost as soon as I arrived in the unit, I was assigned to an aircraft and found my young ass sitting in the door of a Bravo Model Huey gunship with an M-60 in my hands.
At first, flying in combat scarred the crap out of me, then the adrenalin kicked in and for the most part, there was no time to worry about being scarred. With my adrenalin pumping and the feeling I got, I could not get enough of the flying. When my unit got the second two Cobras, my first Huey left and so did my flying. A month later, when a Crew Chief left for the states, they assigned me to the Charlie Model Huey that he had crewed. I was back flying again, doing what I enjoyed the most. After an engine failure, they assigned me to another Bravo Model and continued flying until the last of the Huey left and the Cobra replacements arrived. I finished my tour working in maintenance and being a night Crew Chief. I did a short time as a Tech Inspector in maintenance, but that ended when the unit received a SSG E-6 and the slot was filled. As a night crew chief, I flew in the front seat of the Cobra until the commander found out. I guess that was a good thing because I was not trained to be a pilot. Years after my tour was over, I wrote , which you can find on my website www.emptytubesandbackseatmemories.com/ , www.amazon.com , www.barnesandnoble.com or www.outskirtspress.com .
During my tour, I served in I, II and II Corps, spent time at the DMZ, spent time in the A shau Valley and had several close calls. I left Vietnam in June of 1969 with no intention of reenlisting in the army. However, when they offered me a LARGE chunk of money, the money looked so good, I took another burst of six years.
During a twenty-nine month tour in Korea, I spent time flying the DMZ, working in maintenance, serving time a Motor pool Sergeant and a short time flying as Crew Chief for a 2nd ID General. This tour had added effects to my already growing PTSD problems.
I excited the US Army in 1975, which I learned later was a direct result of my PTSD. I had no idea that my tour of duty had bothered me so much until many years later. When I discovered that writing was an outlet for what was bothering me, I wrote in the Saber (1st Cavalry Division Newspaper) about my unit, which I did for 19 years. I also discovered that finding others helped me as well, which lead to starting a group for the ARA, which I tried to keep going for 15plus years. This group is still going; however, I am concentrating my efforts on other issues.
In May 2011, I was nominated for thr Army Aviation Hall Of Fame. I was not put into the Army Aviation Hall Of Fame, but what an honor just to be nominated..
I am a life member of VFW Post 7997 (Maine), AMVETS Post #1 (Maine), Military Order of the Purple Heart (Florida), Vietnam Veterans of America # 1044 Maine), Disabled American Veterans Pine Tree State #2 (Maine), Vietnam Helicopter Crew Members Association, and Veterans of the Vietnam War (National). I am also a member of the American Legion Post #57 (Maine).
In 2011, I organizaed a POW/MIA Recognition Day weekend in Old Orchard Beach Maine. We had our firstevent in September 2012 and after the 2013 event, I passed the torch to others and moved to Florida. Please go to www.facebook.com/PowmiaRecognitionWeekend and read more about it.