Preserving The Oral HistorIES of Combat Veterans

COMBAT STORIES FROM Vietnam

Jim Smith | Multiple Units - Army

4:06   |   Jim Smith was part of the last group of helicopter units remaining in Vietnam. He was flying missions out of Cam Ranh Bay for MACV, the Military Assistance Command. He met the delightful Montagnard people on these missions and had a brief billet in the mountain resort town of Da Lat.

More From Jim Smith

Keywords   :     Jim Smith    helicopter    pilot    Vietnam    Cam Ranh Bay    Red Barons    Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV)    Montagnards    Da Lat    French

Videos ( 9 )
Vietnam
  • Jim Smith  |  Vietnam  |  Multiple Units  |  7:05

    The campus of Western Kentucky University was practically a home for Jim Smith through high school and college. He loved ROTC and the Pershing Rifles and when it came time for a commission, he chose reserve because he could go to flight school sooner. He was sent to helicopter training because pilots were desperately needed in Vietnam.

  • Jim Smith  |  Vietnam  |  Multiple Units  |  7:27

    He had no idea what to take with him. Helicopter pilot Jim Smith was headed to Vietnam and had received no information about what he needed, so he stuffed some clothes and boots into an ill-fated footlocker and took the long flight over the Pacific. He was first sent to the 101st Airborne up north, where he marveled at the ferocity of the Korean troops based nearby.

  • Jim Smith  |  Vietnam  |  Multiple Units  |  7:29

    It was not as tough as being in the infantry, but being a helicopter pilot in Vietnam had its own hazards. Huey pilot Jim Smith describes the life of an aviator in the first helicopter war. He fondly recalls the music on AFVN, the American Forces Vietnam Network, which was immortalized in the movie "Good Morning, Vietnam."

  • Jim Smith  |  Vietnam  |  Multiple Units  |  2:22

    Only one helicopter pilot was killed in Jim Smith's unit, but it wasn't for lack of trying that there weren't more. He describes the incredible amalgamation of ballistic seats, flak jackets and armor that he and his fellow Huey pilots utilized during hot operations.

  • Jim Smith  |  Vietnam  |  Multiple Units  |  4:17

    Huey pilot Jim Smith recalls seeing the surface to air missiles whizzing past his aircraft. Fortunately, the VC were very bad shots. He loved when he had a Cobra gunship escort because they would pound any position where those SAMs were fired. He also recalls his meetings with the Montagnard people, who were good to have on your side in the bush.

  • Jim Smith  |  Vietnam  |  Multiple Units  |  2:55

    Jim Smith tried not to make close friends with anyone in Vietnam. You never know when they might get killed. He flew missions for MACV, the advisory group which had a lot of special forces assigned to it. These men had to be trained on triple canopy extractions, a tricky business.

  • Jim Smith  |  Vietnam  |  Multiple Units  |  4:55

    Jim Smith and his wife wrote each other every day while he was in Vietnam. A few times they spoke over the MARS ham radio system, which was always comical when they expressed personal feelings followed by, "Over." When he returned after his tour, he was spit on in the San Francisco airport. Twenty four hours earlier, there would have been a different outcome.

  • Jim Smith  |  Vietnam  |  Multiple Units  |  2:12

    Huey pilot Jim Smith landed in a lot of defoliated areas in Vietnam and he saw a lot of aircraft spraying Agent Orange, but he didn't think anything of it. Decades later, he developed diabetes and it may have been related to that exposure.

  • Jim Smith  |  Vietnam  |  Multiple Units  |  4:25

    After establishing which pop songs remind him of his Vietnam tour, Jim Smith describes his emotional reaction to visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and his pride in the memorial built in his home state of Kentucky. That structure is built in the form of a sundial which has a unique behavior.

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