Patrick Gaines was born in a Hominy hospital on June 11, 1947. He is the son of Jack and Lenora (Clark) Gaines. He attended school in Pawhuska. He graduated in 1965. A few years after Gaines was married, he and his wife discovered they had been born in the same hospital and delivered by the same doctor.
By Joe L. Todd
T: What did you do in the 525th?
G: That was a very interesting unit. Their job was to collect intelligence information. They had people with all sorts of specialties, they had professional safe crackers, interrogators. They had agents that worked with the Vietnamese people around the country to gather information. Our job was to support those activities with the aircraft we had. We had 5 Hueys and 3 fixed wing aircraft and we supported those activities. Our flying with them was a little bit different because we had what we called single ship, solo helicopter out flying and landing in the jungle somewhere. We never had any gun support and no backup of any kind. A typical mission, we would have a captain that we worked a lot with. He would schedule the flight and he was supposed to meet us at the airport at a certain time. He would show up and we would take off then he would tell us where we were going. We got our coordinates where we were to fly too after we took off. Typically he would arrive with a brief case and we would take off and he would tell us where to go and it would almost be always some spot out in the jungle. We would land and he would jump off and run off into the jungle. A few minutes later he would come back without the briefcase. He would get in and we would go home. After a few times we figured what was going on. You hear the news today that we never negotiate with terrorists. What was happening that every time we did one of these missions, he would go off out in the jungle with Gaines the briefcase and come back without it. A few days later, just miraculously some POW would come stumbling into an American base. He had escaped somehow. It didn’t take long to figure out they were buying back certain POWs that had certain information that we didn’t want the enemy to know. We asked this guy later on “How much money do you think you have carried this last year?” He said he didn’t count it but probably 3 or 4 million dollars. So every time I hear we don’t negotiate with terrorists I just shake my head and smile. The real world is, yes we do.
T: Were you a crew member on the helicopter?
G: First of all I was in charge of all the repair parts for that unit. Where I was in Saigon we had one helicopter and 2 fixed wing aircraft. The helicopter was brand new, a Huey so you didn’t need too many repair parts so I found out real quickly I didn’t have very much to do. So I started flying as a crew member, as a door gunner. That was a whole lot more interesting than sitting around doing nothing. That is how I started flying. Some of the missions we went on with those people were very interesting, later you would think that it was really stupid to do that or that it was really dangerous and wondered why you did that.
T: What areas would you fly to?
G: We had a helicopter in Saigon and had one in Nha Trang, some in Da Nang and one in another city that I forget. We flew primarily in the area around Saigon, mainly in the III Corps area. I remember one mission where we were supposed to meet this sampan off the coast at a certain time and a certain location. We flew out there and found it at the right place at the right time. We hovered over that sampan and dropped a rope ladder. This military intelligence guy starts going down the ladder. Five young draft age young Vietnamese men stood up and looked him right in the eye. You have to remember there were no young draft age Vietnamese men running out on their own. He knew real quickly these were not the good guys. He got up that ladder so quickly and we got out of there so fast. I think the only reason we were not fired on by this boat is that we had our M-60s trained on them. Otherwise it was a very sketchy moment.
T: Do you recall when that happened?
G: I don’t recall. That was just one of many times when we had interesting missions.
T: Was that your most vivid mission?
T: What is your most vivid mission?
G: I can’t tell you.
T: I won’t ask.
T: There are some things I can talk about and some things I can’t talk about. There are some things I don’t dare talk about. Everybody in that unit had a very high security clearance. There are still some things after all these years I can’t talk about.
T: What type of quarters did you have?
G: Compared to a lot of people we had some very nice quarters. We lived in an old shell of a hotel. There were just walls, just a shell of what obviously had been a hotel. There were about 6 of us that lived in each one of these rooms. Later on we were even able to secure an air conditioner. We had an air conditioned room in Vietnam and that was unusual. We had very nice quarters. We even had television. We watched Armed Forces Vietnam Television. I even saw the Bob Hope show that was being held at Long Binh and I saw it on television.
T: I was there I got to see Bob Hope at Long Binh with Ann Margaret.
G: Let me tell you a story about watching that Bob Hope show on TV. We were all sitting in the room watching and everything was real melancholy and everyone was quiet and Anita Bryant came on and sang Silent Night. You could have heard a pin drop in that room. All of a sudden some idiot out in the ally opened up with a 50 caliber machine gun and we all hit the floor. It was an ARVN soldier that had done that but we don’t know what he was shooting at at the time and that kind of breaks the silence real quickly. To this day I cannot hear Silent Night without remembering that and getting a little bit tense.
T: I have the same thing with the song “Crimson Clover, Over and Over”. That was on the radio when we had a mortar attack. Every time I hear that song I get tense. Saigon, tell me about Saigon.
G: Saigon was an interesting city. At that time it was the 7th largest city in the world. It was a big city. Saigon was made up primarily of very poor store fronts or shacks that people lived in. On the contrast it was made up of very nice expensive mansions. There was a lot of diversity in Saigon with lots and lots of people and a lot of traffic. Driving on the streets in Saigon was extremely interesting because of hundreds and hundreds of motorcycles, bicycles and things like that. Saigon was a place where you could find anything you could look for, probably a lot of things you shouldn’t find. Even luxury items, you could find a lot of things in Saigon. Another guy in our unit had been a jeweler and he turned us on to some rubies at a shop in Saigon. There were emeralds, rubies and all kinds of precious gems that were coming out of Cambodia and Thailand. I mean some huge, huge emeralds. He knew what he was looking for because he was a jeweler. We started buying some of these jewels as gifts for family members. This is a good example of what you could find. Then you could go down to the meat market and find rats Gaines hanging. These rats are not the type you think of, these were huge rats, bigger than some cats and dogs. You could find a little bit of everything.
T: How long were you in the 525th?
G: I was there for a full year.
T: Then what did you do?
G: I came home.
T: What did you think coming home?
G: Like everybody you are overjoyed about getting out of there and coming home. You realize how lucky you are as compared to some that didn’t make it home.
T: Every fired on in the helicopter?
T: What happened if I may ask?
G: I was fired on driving a jeep one day. I would have to go every so often to another military installation north of Saigon to pick up parts for the aircraft. I had to drive across country and usually it was just fine, no problems and very safe. I would have to go through a village or two. One day I had picked up my parts and was coming back to Saigon and I passed a South Vietnamese jeep sitting on the side of the road with a soldier standing there by the jeep. I drove right him and he didn’t say anything and I drove a little further and drove right into a firefight between South Vietnamese soldiers and the Viet Cong. I had rounds going over my jeep. I het the brakes, turned around and got out of there so fast. I don’t know what that soldier hadn’t stopped me. He let me drive right into the thing. I remember that on very vividly. Being fire on in the helicopter was nothing quite that intense but I know we were fired on a time or two. Nothing that was life threatening. One of my most vivid memories was flying in an area where they had some surface to air missiles, radar controlled. Russian made radar controlled surface to air missiles. When you fly in those areas and if that radar picks up your aircraft you will hear three pings. If you hear the third one you are dead. If you hear two you do a sharp dive to the right and it will lock on to where you were and will miss you. When you are flying in those areas and in the back of your mind you are thinking, “Did I not hear that first one?” If you hear that third ping that means they have locked on to you and you can’t get away. I remember flying in those areas and that was a little intense.
T: Was this around Saigon?
G: North of Saigon out in the middle of nowhere. The ground looked like Swiss Cheese from the B-52 strikes. That was the time we had to be very careful of those radar controlled SAM Gaines units.
T: You come home and what do you do?
G: I met my wife at the airport in Tulsa. We landed back in Travis Air Force Base, California then flew to Tulsa. I had a week or two weeks off and got caught up with family and friends.
T: Did you still live in Hominy?
G: No actually lived in Drumright. My wife is from Drumright and she stayed there while I was in Vietnam. Then I had to report to Fort Rucker, Alabama. Fort Rucker is the Army Aviation Center. I was the company supply sergeant. I had been flying in Vietnam and got real interested in flying. I had all my paperwork to apply for flight school. Even had a recommendation from the senior aviator and had my medical done. I had everything ready to turn in and I was still a sergeant E-5, company supply sergeant. I had a choice, I could turn in that application for flight school or I could reenlist and draw quite a sizeable bonus. At that time you could draw the bonus as one cash sum. You can’t do that today. I reenlisted and was promoted to Sergeant E-6, got my reenlistment bonus and turned in my application for flight school. When I reenlisted I had a 6 year obligation. When I turned in that application for flight school I had a 3 year obligation so it cut my obligation time in half. At the same time it allowed me to go the flight school to learn to fly.
T: Tell me about flight school.
G: Flight school was interesting in that it is almost like Basic Training again, not so much physical as it is mental. We were assigned to a barracks and you have tack officers that are usually warrant officers that have come back from Vietnam and they are to help people learn to become an officer, how to work as a team. We had a lot of people who had been in the Army for a while so we were weren’t just new recruits so kind of knew how the system was and how the game was played but we still had to do it. Things like we were in the barracks and if we were walking down the hallway and a tack officer approached us we had to brace ourselves up against the wall and to greet them we had to tell them who we were and we had to ask permission to pass. It was kind of a game almost. If you didn’t do it right you got chewed out and you got all kinds of problems. We would have inspections of our rooms. We had to keep our rooms a certain way. We had a closet and we had to have our uniforms hanging exactly the same way space the exact distance apart. We had to have things in our drawers and our socks had to be rolled and they could not be longer than a certain amount and we had our underwear had to be a certain way. We had a can of shoe polish and if they opened the can of shoe polish and if there was shoe polish on the inside of the lid you got demerits so you never used the shoe polish. You kept it there only for display purposes. Everything in the locker and in the drawer we never used or touched them because if you did they would end up getting dirty or whatever. They would check the bottom of your boots and check the nail holes to see if there were any rocks in the nail holes. Of course those boots had to be polished. We had to make our beds and they had to be beyond good, they had to be perfect. We tucked the sheets underneath and there could not be any of the sheet hanging below the bedsprings. They had to be perfectly flat. The room had to be spotless at all times. They would come in and they knew where to check. They would check to see if they could find some dust somewhere. If they found any of those demerits you got a lot of problems. It was to teach you to pay close attention to details. We learned how to get around those things. We would get up half an hour early to make the bed and make sure everything was spotless. When the lights came on we had to get out of the building and it was ready for inspection. We learned how to play those tricks. We were a little older or at least had spent a little time in the Army. These tack officers used to hate us because we figured out the game before everybody else did. When we had to do a certain thing like brace against the wall and ask permission to pass we would over exaggerate everything. The tack officers figured out real quick we knew what was going on and they hated to deal with us. After a while it got to be a real big game with them. As bad as they could give it to us we could give it back even worse. That was when you were in the barracks. In flight school half a day was spent in class learning about weather, about aerodynamics, flight principles, all that sort of thing. The other half of the day was spent flying. You started out with an instructor and when you got efficient enough that you were not going to crash that helicopter or he didn’t think you were going to crash the helicopter he would let you solo and take it around the flight pattern by yourself. Once you soloed and proved you were efficient enough to fly by yourself from then on most of the flying was solo.
T: Were you nervous on your solo?
G: You are nervous because you want to make sure you do it right. Flying a helicopter is not an easy thing to learn. Once you learn it is kind of like riding a bike but learning is difficult. The hardest thing to learn is how to hover the helicopter. In a helicopter you have to use both hands and both feet and your eyes all the time. The hardest thing to learn is to hover because if you even think about turning left the aircraft turns left. If you think about turning right it turns right. When you are learning to hover you move the cyclic and if you move the cyclic a little that aircraft moves a lot so it was very difficult to learn how to hover. It was a common tool for a flight instructor to have you hover up near a tree. He then would say, “It is yours, don’t hit that tree and don’t crash the helicopter”. It made you really concentrate.
T: Which model Huey in flight school?
G: We flew the Hughes TH-55.
T: What did you have in Vietnam?
G: The Huey.
T: Which model?
G: I flew a D Model, H Model and I have flown the M Model. Most of the time it would be the H Model. Flight School was fun and that was the first part of flight school. One you finished the primary in Fort Wolters, Texas then you went to Fort Rucker, Alabama to start flying the Huey. Learning tactics, learning how to fly out of tight enclosed spaces and how to fly in formation, a lot of the things you would be doing in Vietnam. Once you mastered the Huey and got the tactics down and knew what you were doing you were well on your way.
T: What is you most vivid memory of flight school?
G: In flight school you are so busy all the time it is hard to have one vivid memory of one particular thing. One of the things I remember flying in Fort Wolters in primary flight training was that at the same time there were several Vietnamese student pilots there also. We had to watch out for the Vietnamese student pilots because the communications at the end of the day to come back in and you had to call the tower and you would get a number line to come in. You would hear the Vietnamese pilots say, “OK I come” and that was it. You really start looking around. That is one of the most vivid things I can remember about primary flight school was watching out for the Vietnamese pilots. They didn’t follow the same rules as everybody else.
T: What was your average day in flight school?
G: It started out making sure your room was ready for inspection. After eating you would be bussed probably to a classroom at one of the airfields. You would sit there and go through class in the morning. You would go to lunch then in the afternoon you would come back and meet up with you instructor pilot for you assignment and you go out and fly that afternoon.
T: Flight school lasted how long?
G: Total about 9 months.
T: When did you get your commission?
G: When you finished flight school. I got mine the 8th day of March 1971.
T: Were you commissioned or a warrant officer?
G: Warrant officer.
T: After flight school what did you do?
G: I went immediately to Vietnam and went through the same old routine to Oakland and went to, you know I don’t remember where I flew into the second time. It wasn’t Cam Rahn Bay. They flew us to Tuy Hoa and spent the night there and from Tuy Hoa flew down to Dong Ba Tien where I was assigned to the 92nd Assault Helicopter Company. That is right across the bay from Cam Rahn Bay. They took one look at my records and said, “Oh you have experience with parts and we are going to put you in charge of the parts for us and we are going to make you the maintenance officer and you will be flying test flights”. I thought that was great, I’m not going to be part of a flight platoon where I am going out and fly with everybody else. I was going to be doing something else by myself which I did. The parts were being handled by the enlisted people, they knew what they were doing and didn’t have to mess with that. I spent almost every day flying test flights, which meant if a helicopter got shot down or went down for maintenance problems, after it was fixed I took it out to see if it could still fly. I had a certain routine I had to go through to check the engine and check the flight controls to make sure it was back where it should be. I would sign off on it and it would go out on missions the next day.
T: Did you fly the helicopter by yourself?
G: Most flights were by myself. I didn’t have a copilot on test flights. Occasionally I would take the crew chief along. It was his aircraft the he was responsible for it. We would take them out and give them a little stick time. After I did my thing and checked everything we would him to take it and fly it for a little while. We let the crew chiefs fly some. You have probably flown some.
T: I could not hover.
G: We let the crew chiefs fly and the idea was that if for some reason the pilot and copilot were shot or incapacitated then maybe the crew chief could get that helicopter back home. One day part of that flight check I did, you had to do an autorotation. According to what we were supposed to be doing, we were not supposed to do an actual autorotation all the way to the ground. We would recover with power and pull up. One day I had this crew chief with me, a nice kid, very quiet and he took real good care of that aircraft. He was flying with me and I got to the autorotation part and I looked around and there were no other aircraft around. No one was watching and the tower was too far away and I saw this nice flat sandy beach area so I put this thing in autorotation and here we go down. He was expecting me to pull the power back on and pull out. I didn’t, I took it all the way to the ground and set it down. His eyes got about as big as saucers. He didn’t know I was going to do that and about scared him to death. He probably would have shot me if he had a weapon.
T: You didn’t have a hard landing did you?
G: No, didn’t have a hard landing, set it down nice and smooth. He will probably never forgive me for that but hope it give him some confidence. If I had been spotted doing that I would have been in big trouble.
T: Were you the test pilot the whole time you were with the 92nd?
G: I was with them until November or December because the unit was deactivated.
T: When were you assigned to the 92nd?
G: April of 1971.
T: Was Vietnam winding down at this time?
G: Yes. It was winding down which was good and bad at the same time. It was winding down with the idea to reduce casualties but the whole program made things even more dangerous to fly. Because before they started winding down if something were to happen and you had to put the aircraft on the ground or got shot down someone was there within minutes to pick you up and get you out. By the time I left there in 1972 if you got shot down or the aircraft went down for mechanical problems you had to plan on walking out. Nobody was coming to get you. That got really bad towards the end. I went from the 92nd to the 57th Assault Helicopter Company in Pleiku. It was while I was at Pleiku those kinds of problems surfaced to reduce casualties but at the same time making it very, very dangerous. Some of the problems were not just with flying, one of the problems was rules of engagement were changing. Before if we were shot at we could fire back and defend yourself. Late in the war if you got shot at you first had to see the individual that was shooting at you, not just where the fire was coming from but see the individual that was shooting at you. If it was a certain area it may be a no fire zone.so you may not even be able to fire back. Or if it was an area where you might be able to fire back you had to see the individual you had to call about 3 different agencies to
get permission to fire back in that area, 2 of those being Vietnamese. Maybe half an hour later if you got permission to fire back there would be nobody there. The rules of engagement got to be very dangerous. They could shoot at you but you could not shoot at them. Even after the Lt. Calley incident at My Lai it got to the point that you didn’t want to carry a weapon. If you shot at anybody you had a lot of explaining to do.
T: Any incidents in the 92nd or 57th?
G: In the 92nd I was standing out by our maintenance facility one day and we had a flight platoon that took off and the company executive officer was flying with them that day. I could see where they were going to land up on a mountain and as he made his approach he set the aircraft down on a mine and blew the helicopter back and I saw it when it happened. I was a long ways away but I could see when that thing went off. That is one of the things that happened and there were several things that happened. Just after I got to the 92nd on night it was raining like cats and dogs. Our XO came looking for someone to go on a mission with him. It was an emergency mission and I was the only one around and he grabbed me and we jumped in the aircraft and we took off in the rain. What had happened, a Special Forces unit was out and made contact and was in danger of being overrun. They were near Cam Rahn Bay out on a rock ledge. We flew to that spot and we had to hover one skid on the rock while these guys jumped on and we took off. That was a little exciting just being brand new in country but we got them out of there. That was with the 92nd, now with the 57th, that unit was a little different in that their mission every day was to go across the border in Cambodia. We were not supposed to be there. What happened was that they would put in groups up in the north and they would come down the Ho Chi Minh Trail do there little deed whatever that was and out job was to extract them out of there after they came down into Cambodia into a certain area. That got to be extremely interesting. Sometimes you could land and get down to the ground and sometimes you couldn’t because you had a 50 foot canopy of trees. In those cases we dropped a rope and if those guys could get there on the rope we would pull them out. Other times if you could get to the ground it turned into a foot race with the good guys coming from one direction and the bad guys coming from another direction. It was a matter of seeing who got there first. We weren’t supposed to be in Cambodia at that time. Today there are books written about all this stuff so it is not something unknown. We had one pilot and it was a particularly hot area and there had been an F-4 and a Jolly Green shot down and there were lots of fire and it was really hot. He had gone in set down to pick up these guys and they were not there. The thing about his helicopter, he had a big American flag painted on the door which made a heck of a target. He went in set down, they weren’t there, he pulled out and as they were leaving the crew chief says, “Here they come”. He turned that thing around and set down and got them out of there and taking fire the whole time. Any other place he would probably been nominated for all kinds of awards but since we were not supposed to be there anyway, nothing. That was a real dangerous thing. Towards the end of the war we had one of our pilots with a Vietnamese copilot and they got shot down. They knew they could be seen on the ground and they were taking fire and one of our most experienced pilots was within minutes and he said he would go in and get them. Before he got there the company commander said, “Hold up, I’ll go in and get them”. Before he got there the battalion commander calls up and says, “Hold up, I’ll go in and get them”. He was some miles away. Gaines – page 17
Before he got there nobody got them. What they were doing, they were looking for medals at the end of the war and it cost somebody their life. It got to be really dangerous. I thought of something that happened with the 92nd that kind of a sad situation. At Dong Ba Tien we had night patrols and one night this patrol came in contact with someone. They were not the only ones out there. They scrambled some gunships, some cobras out to give them some support. The people on the ground gave them some coordinates to fire on so they rolled in and fire on that coordinate and put the rocket right in the middle of their unit because they had given them the wrong coordinate. They killed 9 US people that night. When that happened they scrambled everybody and got them out of there. The pilot that had fired that rocket, it wasn’t his fault because he fired on the coordinate they gave him and he spent the next several days in his hootch and nobody say him. That was a sad situation but it happened.
T: Anything else.
G: I remember an incident when I was with the 92nd when they scrambled one of our helicopters to pick up an MP. This kid had been in country 2 weeks and he was on guard duty and they were having a show at the Enlisted Men’s club. He came in one time and checked his rifle and watched the show for a while and went back out. He came back the second time and didn’t check his rifle and opened up on the group in the club. Killed 2 or 3 and one guy had 2 or 3 weeks left in country. They came back and the guy said, “I never felt like killing a person in my life”. He said this kid laughed the whole time they were taking him to Cam Rahn Bay. He had just killed these people and he laughed the whole way. He killed them for no reason. Those kind of things are sad. They said he may have been high on something.
T: The news media talked about all the drugs in Vietnam.
G: There were some drugs in Vietnam but not everybody says.
T: I tell people if we had a pilot or crew chief on drugs we got rid of them.
G: You can’t trust them.
T: Everyone I talked to did that. If they had a guy on drugs they got rid of them.
G: There have a lot of stories like that fabricated over the years. I had a guy work for me when I was in the parts department with the 57th. Nicest, hardest working kid in the world. He did a good job. But occasionally he would get on whatever he was taking and he would be wasted, he just wouldn’t come to work. When that happened you knew what it was but what are you going to do? It is truly a shame of those kids did get hooked on some of that stuff. When he was not on that stuff he did a fantastic job. When he was on that stuff you didn’t want him there at work.
T: Vietnam is a beautiful country.
G: It is.
T: Compare Vietnam as an enlisted man and an officer?
G: To me it was almost two different wars. My first time was different from the second time because things had changed. That first time everybody had a job to do and everybody was doing it and seemed to have a purpose. The second time they were trying to start the drawdown, it got to where people were not being responsible for their work. They were not doing the job they could be doing. It was a little different attitude.
T: When did you leave Vietnam the second time?
G: April of 1972.
T: What did you do after you left Vietnam?
G: When I left Vietnam they were trying to reduce the numbers and gave me an early out. I had drawn a reenlistment bonus and got a shorter term and they gave me an early out. I figured after flying for 2 years either as a crew member or as a pilot I was probably pushing my luck. I went back to school to Oklahoma State. My schooling was much different the second time than it was the first time. I graduated and got a job from Farm Credit System.
T: What is you degree?
G: Agricultural Economics. I got a job with Product Credit Association in Colorado Springs. I spent a year there then got an offer to move to Concordia, Kansas as vice president in charge of credit. I spent three years there. When I went to Concordia they were at 73 percent loan acceptable. That is about as bad as you can get. When I left there they were at 92 percent. One of ways I had helped improve that was by teaching some of these farmers and ranchers how to use the futures market to reduce the risk. Me doing that got the attention of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Actually got the attention of someone in Wichita and they recommended me. I got a phone call out of the blue one day from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange one day and they asked me to come to Chicago and interview for a job. I had never thought about Chicago. They flew me to Chicago and I saw Chicago from the airport to downtown. I interviewed with them and went back to the airport and flew home. I thought about it for a while and called them and said there is no way I am going to raise my boys in Chicago. Because what I had seen from the airport to downtown was not the most attractive place to raise a family. My soon to be boss in Chicago waited a few weeks and called and asked me to bring my wife and he would put us up and show that it is not quite as bad. We flew to Chicago and they put us in a nice hotel and he took us to the suburbs away from downtown. Sure enough it was not what you perceive it to be. We decided to move to Chicago and it was the best thing I ever did because it doubled my income overnight. We live in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and turned out to be like any other town. My kids went to a smaller school in Chicago than they would have gone to in Kansas. In fact it took about 6 months for them to catch up academically. That was the difference between Kansas and Chicago. The kids had some opportunities they would have never had had we stayed in Kansas. For me personally the first week I worked for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange I saw both the east coast and the west coast in the same week. My job was to work with agricultural bankers to allow their borrowers to use the futures market. I held seminars around the country. In fact I did one in Pawhuska while I was working in Chicago and knew everyone because that is where I grew up. The advantage I made some fantastic contacts with people all over the country. I saw 48 states and 4 Canadian provinces during the time I was there 7 and a half years. When we moved up there I thought I would give it 3 years and see how it goes.
T: When did you come to Bartlesville?
G: I moved to Bartlesville last October.
T: Why did you come here?
G: When we left Chicago we moved back to Colorado. I had this strong urge to get back to Colorado. While we were in Colorado our daughter collapsed at home on night. She was 10 at the time. We rushed her to the emergency room and they checked her over and didn’t know exactly what was wrong. They told us it was serious and we need to get her to a place with more doctors and more equipment. We took her to a hospital in Denver and they did an X-ray. It was fortunate because probably the best brain surgeon in the country was on call that night. He found a big brain tumor. She had immediate surgery and came out of that and did pretty well but what happened when she collapsed she broke a blood vessel that was feeding that tumor and it was like having a stroke and she couldn’t use the left side not well. She had trouble talking but slowly got better. She went through chemotherapy treatment and never got once sick. I was taking her twice a day for radiation treatments but she started getting sick again going through the radiation. The Oncologist said something is not right because she should not be getting sick from the treatments. They did a spinal tip and find found cancer cells in the spinal fluid. At that point they knew there was nothing they could do. She lived six months and died. I tell you all that because of all that urge to move to Colorado was not because of me it was because of her. Had we not gone to Colorado she would have not been surrounded by the people she was when she was sick. Had we stayed in Chicago she would not have had that kind of treatment or support. I worked for Dean Witter for a while as a commodities broker. Then I worked for Charles Schwab and Company. Back when the dot coms busted I got laid off, about half of the people in that firm got laid off. Here I was in my 50’s at that time and wondered what in the heck do I do now? It is kind of hard to find a job at that age and nobody in that industry was hiring. I had heard of Sears Hometown Stores, which was not a franchise but you own the store and they provide all the merchandise and you own a commission of what is sold in the store. They were needing somebody to open a store in Trinidad, Colorado so I went down there, invested a bunch of money and opened a store. March 5th of 2013, my wife has MS but not a real bad case. When we lived in Colorado we had 80 acres in the mountains in a beautiful area but it was rough. We think she lost her balance and fell, not because of the MS and when she fell she crushed a vertebra, broke her back. When that happened we knew we were not going to live there any longer, it was too darn rough. That is why we decided to move back here. We hadn’t been back in a long time but it is still home, we both had grown up in Oklahoma. That is why we are back here in Bartlesville. I was not going to move back to Pawhuska and we didn’t move to Drumright, that is where she is from. In Bartlesville we would be close to medical whether here or in Tulsa. It is not a big town but it is not a real small town. It has restaurants and shopping and things like that so we thought this would be the best area for us.
T: In 1975 when Vietnam was falling and you saw on the news where the helicopters were being pushed off the aircraft carriers or landing on the water, what was your reaction?
G: It made me sick to see those helicopters being dumped in the ocean. I couldn’t believe that. It was unbelievable.
T: Why were we in Vietnam?
G: Maybe you can tell me. As it started out they had good intentions of helping support the South Vietnamese but it mushroomed out of control much larger than what they ever intended and there was no obvious way to get out.
T: War is good business.
G: That is some of the things I can’t talk about.
T: Would you join the Army again?
G: Yes I would. The Army is probably not for everybody but it was good for me. I had a positive experience and did well. I was promoted to Sergeant E-6 in 19 months and that doesn’t happen today. I went from there to Warrant Officer and the Army was very good to me.
T: I’d like to do a word association. I’ll give you some words and you give me your reaction.
T: The first one is Basic Training.
T: 525th MI Group.
T: Flight School.
G: Challenging but rewarding.
T: 92nd Assault Helicopter Company.
G: Another life.
T: Lyndon Johnson.
T: Richard Nixon.
G: Probably misunderstood.
T: How do you want to be remembered?
G: Gosh, I don’t know. How about honorable.
T: Anything else you want to talk about?
G: Probably not. One thing, I probably shouldn’t tell you. I told you we were not supposed to be in Cambodia when I was with the 525thMI Group, we got this thing to make up a fake set of numbers. The same size the helicopters had. We made them and got this mission one day and were told to bring the numbers. We took off and headed toward Cambodia. Before we got to the border we sat down and put those numbers on the helicopter. At that point we probably knew what they were for, in case we were photographed. We picked up and went across the border and sat down and out walked this guy in what looked like work clothes. They were green and clean, looked new. He got on the helicopter and we took off for Saigon. This guy sat in meetings all day long and that afternoon we did the reverse, dropped him off in Cambodia and came home. We figured out pretty quick who it was. It was Prince Sihanouk. He was the ruling guy in Cambodia at that time. You think about that, we went into another country, picked up their ruler and flying him out. That would be like someone flying into this country and picking up the president. I really didn’t understand what that was all about until several years later. Years later they had radar sites in Cambodia to help direct B-52s and other kinds of activities. This was part of the agreement signed with Prince Sihanouk back in that meeting. It all comes full circle.
T: What do you think of Pol Pot?
G: He was probably an idiot.
T: What happened to him?
G: I don’t know if he was murdered or assassinated.
T: How many people died under his rule?
G: I don’t know. Prince Sihanouk came back into power after Pol Pot.