8:51 | Chuck Officer remembers his time at Navy OCS training. Coming from the Marines, he had an easy time switching over his skills to Officer Candidate School.
Keywords : Officer Candidate School (OCS) Navy USS Deyo transition Marines leadership cryptologic service rejoin cryptology USS Pueblo USS Liberty USS Stark
Chuck Officer recalls his early life growing up in a military family and his relationship with his father who had a long history of military service.
Chuck Officer remembers his motivations growing up wanting to serve his country. A pride for his country drove his desire to want to serve and protect the values he had learned growing up.
Chuck Officer remembers how his collegiate experience differed from the traditional route due to his military involvement. His first time at training taught him many things he had not gained from civilian life.
Chuck Officer remembers going through inspections during his Marine training. One particularly fiery company commander gave his squad trouble, a lesson they never forgot.
Chuck Officer remembers his early plan to go to college in addition to becoming a Marine, a goal that he never gave up on. After he faced some difficulties with his eyesight, he had to go through a few hurdles that led him to his final path as an officer.
Chuck Officer recalls the mechanics behind waging war in the United States. At many points in time, he remembers the distinct feeling of being there as history was being written in front of him.
Chuck Officer recalls his Naval deployment before Desert Storm and receiving the letter that gave authorization to start the war. Being behind the scenes during the logistics of wartime was a fascinating experience. Continued from Part 1.
Chuck Officer recalls the shift in the global military climate after the U.S. overcame Saddam's forces so thoroughly during Desert Storm.
Helicopter pilot Mo Erkins was ordered to a different Chinook unit in Vietnam because they needed men with different rotation dates to keep it at full strength. He wasn't happy about that and when he reported to his new commander, he was even more dissatisfied. He experienced the only unfair treatment he would see in his entire career and he fixed it immediately.
The area around Da Lat was beautiful, reminding Joe Bruckner of home in North Georgia. He saw it mostly from the air in small aircraft on intelligence missions. On "sniffer missions," they would try to draw fire in a Huey and then he would fire a grenade launcher as the gunships dropped from above to attack. This nearly got him in trouble as a rookie.
When Ed Zielinski returned home from Vietnam, he took fire immediately, a spitball from an anti-war protestor. His entered a trying time in his life, but continuing to fly was a big help. He joined the National Guard and taught new helicopter pilots the real life skills they would need, the ones not in the book. (Caution: Coarse language)
The Koreans didn't speak much English, at least to him. They would point to a map and helicopter pilot Ed Zielinski would take them there. On one mission, he had to set down and wait. This gave him an unexpected opportunity to utilize his Texas quick draw skills.
Chinook pilot Aaron Watkins reflects on the lessons of Vietnam and his own service there. His education and training at Tuskegee University gave him direction and purpose and he traveled with some of the original Tuskegee Airmen in retirement. He is encouraged by the improved treatment of today's veterans and he has some insightful words for those with a big dream
Army brat Ed Zielinski had always been fascinated with flight. As a child he just knew he would lift off on a windy day with a long coat for wings. So when the draft loomed he decided he would try to fly over the rice paddies rather than slog through them.
His first missions in Vietnam were resupply runs, which were used to break in new pilots. Mo Erkins moved on to combat missions and on final approach to one of these, his tail rotor was hit and he was forced down. The maintenance officer wanted to know why he didn't keep flying the aircraft, but after he went to the field to retrieve it, he sought out the pilot to apologize.
During the Tet Offensive of 1968, Dick Dyer and other helicopter pilots and crew, manned the berms with their personal weapons as the night lit up with fire of all kinds. The next day, there was a rush to transport many troops to new positions to respond to the widespread attacks.
After his first Vietnam tour, helicopter pilot Mo Erkins served as an instructor at Fort Rucker. He went back for a second tour, this time moving from Hueys to Chinooks. Assigned as the Executive Officer, he established communication with the parents of avery man under his command and used his university training in counseling to keep professional relationships good.
The veterans today have it easier than Dick Dyer did when he returned from Vietnam. The mood is supportive, and when he wears his Vietnam Veteran hat, he gets a little of the love he missed back in the day. He is very proud of the role that helicopter pilots like himself played in the war.
It was hot at Fort Polk and he was getting picked on by the 1st Sergeant. Ed Zielinski found out why he was getting the business after he graduated from basic training, then it was on to flight school. Terrified at first, he gained confidence, especially when he made the switch to Hueys. At the end of the training, all the men played a prank on the platoon leader. (Caution: Coarse language)
Out of flight school, helicopter pilot Mo Erkins was assigned to Germany, an assignment which he enjoyed. But his tour was curtailed and he was ordered to Fort Campbell to prepare for deployment to Vietnam. He was willing to go where the President sent him, in fact he was eager because his fellow pilots were there and he wanted to participate.
Since by then he'd learned to fly, advanced training came easy to helicopter pilot Aaron Watkins. As he neared the end of the training, he married his high school sweetheart and was chosen for Chinook school. This was almost unheard of at his level of experience. His friends said that thing is a bigger target, no thanks. He said it's faster, let me at it.
Nineteen and invincible, newly minted helicopter pilot Ed Zielinski was singing on the 26 hour flight to Vietnam. Assigned to work with a Korean unit, he began to familiarize himself with the area he was based in, determined to be the best pilot there.
When he returned from his first tour in Vietnam, The Beatles' Hey Jude welcomed him home. Nobody else did. After a couple of years stateside, Dick Dyer returned to the embattled country, this time north of Da Nang. He felt that the command structure there was always putting him in a bad situation.
The officers club for the helicopter pilots was one of the best in Vietnam, says Ed Zielinski. If only he could have figured out how the Korean officers were cheating at dice. There was another kind of wildlife there, elephants, which could also be enemy trucks, deer and wild pig, which you could barbecue, and monkeys, which you better not shoot if Ed was around.
Dick Dyer was in college ROTC when he was offered the chance to learn to fly. The program was geared to a private pilot license but the instructor was a a World War II flying ace. This gave him an advantage when he was commissioned and sent to flight school to learn to fly helicopters.
How did the rules of engagement in Vietnam affect helicopter pilot Rd Zielinski? He worked for Koreans and says that's all you need to know. He flew other missions and on one clandestine foray into Laos, he spotted two MIG fighter planes on a makeshift runway in the jungle. Could he be the first helicopter pilot ace?
What was Operation Lam Son 719 like? To helicopter pilot Dick Dyer, it was a "gaggle." There were so many aircraft flying at once, it seemed to him like hundreds. A recurring problem on these big troop movements was overloading caused by eager soldiers. On occasion, the pilots were tasked with transporting reporters.
As the war went on, Ron Rutowski felt the culture and morale of Vietnam change for the Vietnamese and for the Americans. In an effort to create an outlet of peace for Viet Cong defectors, they began a pamphlet program to let them know how to effectively surrender should they want to.
Chinook pilot Aaron Watkins recalls some of the nerve wracking action on his missions in Vietnam, including getting shot at on the ground. That was a bad feeling because you're just there. You can't maneuver. He also reveals a very effective tactic, screaming in right above the trees.
It was a forward element for purposes of quick reaction. Dick Dyer was part of a deployment of a few helicopters to a nearby rubber plantation without any additional security. That didn't last long. They went back to Bien Hoa air base, where the pilots and crew lived off base in an interesting arrangement.
He had three close friends in Vietnam, but he struggles to remember any other names. The other relationships were professional, but not close. He actually outranked the man he thought was the best leader he encountered, a Warrant Officer who was talented and knowledgable.