Ace was a Huey helicopter pilot based in the southern part of Saigon for the US Army 1st Cavalry. Flew more than 62 combat missions via his “Betsy” as he called her, her side were rounded but by the time he ended flying she had tons of character marks on her, but she never failed him. A large part of his flight missions were routine insertions that could happened as often as 6 times in a single day. At times Ace said there presented many challenges. He said there was always shooting and pop shots.
He said since there was always shooting and indirect fire, he and his squadron formulated a plan for when or if they would try to jump out of the helicopter if they ever needed to. Many casualties always casualties that they got numb to it. He said but we were always there when they needed us. He said some of his fondest memories were seeing and witnessing a single Huey swoop over treetops and guns blazing.
The Army crew on board would always make sure they cleared a path for the relief helicopters to return to base. He went on to tell me that some of the most dangerous missions were going into a landing zone behind enemy lines to pick up the Army Long Range Reconnaissance (LRRP) patrolmen who were always on scouting missions. Ace told me that those were the easy days now his hardest mission is where he will find his next meal. He said laying outside on the ground basically being freezing is the hardest part at his age because your body doesn’t move like it used to. He said his said chassis has seen her days.
He told me that he hangs in the local shelter waiting on a day that he can get a room or a shared room. He said a man hits his lowest point when he has to beg or ask for help. He said in the peak of his Army aviation career he was at the pinnacle of where he could be, and he said now I’m pretty sure I can’t get any lower.