My father, a farmer by trade, had a great love for flying, but he had an even greater love for his family. He did however accomplish some of his dream of flying. That dream was to have his sons develop a love for flying such as his. Flying is often referred to as a terminal disease. I contracted it at the age of eight. I often tagged along with my father when he went to fly. At the age of sixteen I made my first solo flight. At the Oshkosh fly-in I was awarded a prize for the youngest pilot at the fly-in with more than one thousand pilots attending. There I talked to a corporate pilot. He told me that any corporation interested in hiring a pilot wants a thirty-year-old with thirty-five years of experience.
My plan from that point on was flying professionally. But I knew I had my work cut out for me if I wanted to achieve my goal. My research led me to the conclusion, military pilots were considered the best trained and the most experienced pilots. Their experience with the most advanced technology in aircraft and avionics made them a sought after commodity in the field of aviation.
At the beginning of my senior year in High School I submitted applications to every college that had a four year Airforce ROTC program. In April of that year, I was accepted by such a program at a college in Texas. The ROTC program was scheduled to begin in June. But just a few weeks after my acceptance into a ROTC program the Army released a program that would accept high school graduates that could achieve high level scores on their flight test exams. I changed my plan.
I interviewed with an Army recruiter and a week after I graduated, I took the qualification test for entrance into the Army Aviation Flight School. After scoring well on the tests the Army signed me up. By August I began basic training. In October I started flight school, graduating in July of 1970.
With a total of 205 hours of training in a helicopter I shipped out for Vietnam at the ripe old age of nineteen years. Looking back on that experience I learned two things. First, the phrase there are the quick and the dead did not refer to your speed afoot. The phrase referred to how quickly you learned your combat trade. Second, While I was born and raised in the United States, I grew-up in Vietnam.
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