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Journey to the Golden Hour: My Path to the Most Dangerous Job in America: Flying a Medical Helicopter

Journey to the Golden Hour: My Path to the Most Dangerous Job in America: Flying a Medical Helicopter

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Journey to the Golden Hour: My Path to the Most Dangerous Job in America: Flying a Medical Helicopter

331 pages
6 hours
Sep 6, 2012


Journey to the Golden Hour follows the path of Randy Mains, an ex-Vietnam combat helicopter pilot harboring a burning passion to fly after the war. In this personal account, using his personal diaries that he’s kept over the years, Mains recounts his incredible journey to find work abroad which he does first on a 1369-square-mile cattle station in the Australian outback. There he and his boss purchase a crashed airplane in the Simpson Desert where they rebuild her and fly her out like a Flight of the Phoenix Down Under. He then takes a job flying helicopters over the sweltering triple-canopy jungle in Papua New Guinea, then he takes a job as a senior instructor pilot for Bell Helicopter International in Iran prior to the Islamic Revolution where he ends up fleeing the country on the last commercial charter only to find himself back home twenty-four hours later asked to become a pioneer, along with six other dedicated ex-Vietnam helicopter pilots, who are trying to prove to a doubting American public and skeptical medical community that the helicopter can save lives in peacetime just as it did in the battle fields of Korea and Vietnam. The book then details his six years as a helicopter EMS pilot in the early days where he finds himself in an industry turning so dangerous he nearly loses his life on five separate occasions. So buckle up, get cozy and get ready for one rollicking good read.

Sep 6, 2012

Tentang penulis

A native of Southern California, Randy Mains served as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam from October 1968- to October 1969 where he flew 1042 combat hours and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, twenty-seven Air Medals and the Bronze Star Medal. Randy has flown helicopters in the Australian Outback living and working on a 1369 square-mile cattle ranch herding cattle by helicopter and delivering meat by fixed-wing aircraft to Aboriginal settlements in the Northern Territory. He has flown over the jungles of Papua New Guinea and was a senior flight instructor for Bell Helicopter International in Iran prior to the Islamic Revolution teaching Western pilots the art of flight instruction. Fleeing the country on the last commercial charter out of Iran in 1979 he unwittingly became a pioneer in helicopter air ambulance in America striving to prove to a doubting American public and a skeptical medical community that the helicopter could save lives in peacetime as it had over the battlefields of Korea and Vietnam. In 1982, Mr. Mains was selected to receive the first annual Golden Hour Award, recognizing him for his contributions to furthering the helicopter air ambulance concept in America. Following his deep passion to become a writer, while working full time as chief pilot for Life Flight, Mains attended San Diego State University full time, earning a degree in Journalism and a minor in English Creative Writing. Mains’s first published article Life and Death—an EMS Pilot’s Viewpoint won Rotor and Wing magazine an award for editorial excellence that he was told by the editor, David Jensen, was the first literary award the magazine had ever won. In November 1984, Mains was asked to join the faculty of the American Society of Hospital Based Emergency Aeromedical Services to speak on a panel of EMS pilots, The Go No Go Symposium, during the annual HEMS convention held in New Orleans that year. In December 1984 Mains was offered a job in the Sultanate of Oman as a uniformed Major in the Royal Oman Police Air Wing to set up a country-wide HEMS system. Mains lived and worked in Oman for thirteen years flying as a line pilot and as the head of their flight training department. Desperate to get the word out that if something was not done to stop the terrible HEMS accident rate back in America to put an end to more flight crews losing their lives, shortly after leaving San Diego to take the job in Oman, Mains set about writing his first book, a novel entitled The Golden Hour, published in 1989. In 1989, while working in Oman, he began writing what would become his highly successful second book entitled, Dear Mom I’m Alive—Letters Home from Blackwidow 25 detailing his one-year tour in Vietnam as a combat helicopter pilot that has now been optioned to be made into a movie. Mains was brought out of retirement two years later when he was recruited by a friend to fly a twenty-place Bell 214ST as a HEMS pilot for the king of Saudi Arabia in Jeddah off the king’s 500’ yacht which he did for three years. Mains left Saudi to take a job with Abu Dhabi Aviation where he worked as a company type-rating instructor and flight examiner operating the 412 EP flight simulator in Dubai training and examining pilots for the company. A year ago his company was awarded a HEMS contract using Western pilots in Saudi Arabia and he was asked to write the SOP to set up the program over there. He left the Middle East in January 2013 and is now the Chief CRM/AMRM (air medical resource management) Safety Instructor for Oregon Aero. Mains is an activist for change in the HEMS industry where flying in a medical helicopter has become one of the most hazardous jobs in America. He is a keynote speaker, has written numerous magazine articles throughout his 44-year aviation career and has penned three books, two dealing with helicopter EMS in America. He currently writes a monthly column for Rotorcraft Pro Magazine entitled, ‘My Two Cents Worth’.

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Journey to the Golden Hour - Randolph Mains

My Path to the

Most Dangerous Job in America:

Flying a Medical Helicopter

Randolph P. Mains


Rotor Tales Publishing on Smashwords

Journey to the Golden Hour—My Path to the Most Dangerous Job in America: Flying a Medical Helicopter

Copyright © 2011-2012 Randolph P. Mains

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

This is a work of non-fiction. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

Smashwords Edition License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the author's work.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without written permission in writing by the author.

@ Randolph P. Mains


In Memory of those who have lost their lives in medical helicopters.

For Kaye my biggest fan.



Seriously in the Shit

California Here We Come!

Star Struck

Off To The Land Of Oz

Nothing So Befuddling To Man Or Biologist

Flight Of The Phoenix Down Under

Life In The Australian Outback

Papua New Guinea

From Palm Trees To Persepolis

A Warm Homecoming To An Islamic Revolution

Houston Life Flight

Phoenix—Major Crossroads

San Diego


The Golden Hour

Twenty-Five years On

Remembering a Good Friend

In Memory


Flying in a medical helicopter has now become one of the most dangerous jobs in America. With the pressures exerted on the pilot and the relentless scrutiny of every decision he makes, is it any wonder why?

The stark reality today is that if you fly on a medical helicopter for twenty years you have a forty percent change of dying.

From my early experiences and observations as a helicopter pilot during the formative years of helicopter emergency medical services, (HEMS) and from my observations of the industry over the past thirty-two years, here is how this deadly segment of aviation grew and flourished.

So please fasten your seatbelt, sit back, get cozy, and relax while I recount the incredible journey I took to eventually become a helicopter air ambulance pilot in the formative years in what has, today, officially, become one of the most deadly professions in America.



October 1981

It was a beautiful day for an inquisition. The traffic was heavy on the northbound 405 freeway on this clear fall day. My lawyer, Ned Zardman, had picked me up from Harbor Island Marina in San Diego to meet with the Federal Prosecutor for the FAA at his office located somewhere near the Los Angeles International Airport where I had been summoned to appear today. I figured that in two hours I would know if the Federal prosecutor thought he had enough evidence to take me to trial.

I gazed out the window at the smooth stream of cars traveling in the opposite direction. I couldn’t help but wish it was me traveling southbound back to San Diego instead of heading north to my face my inquisitor.

I had worked hard to get back to my home state of Southern California after leaving the U.S. Army ten years ago. Finding a helicopter flying job had been difficult because after the Vietnam War there seemed to be a helicopter pilot on every street corner. Through persistence, a lot of international travel, six flying jobs, and more than a little luck, I had finally attained my dream job flying a helicopter in Southern California. I wasn’t making a lot of money, about the same monthly salary as the kid stocking milk at the local grocery store, (a fact that stunned most people when I told them considering the responsibility I had) but I was incredibly happy living from paycheck to paycheck on my 35’ sailboat in Harbor Island Marina in San Diego, California, doing what I loved doing, flying a helicopter air ambulance and saving lives. I couldn’t imagine a job more satisfying exciting or rewarding.

Two hours from now I would face the very real possibility that perhaps my flying days in San Diego would be over. The sickening reality was that I could be grounded for an indeterminate length of time. The prosecutor in L.A held my professional fate in his hands. He had the power to suspend or revoke my helicopter license. It was a dismal prospect. Because of the enormity of the problem and the possible consequences, the worry weighed like lead on my spirit.

I readjusted my butt on the well-worn passenger seat of Ned’s late-model car trying not to think about the possibilities of what could happen to me today. I had one chance to save my professional future and that one chance rested squarely on the shoulders of the man sitting next to me; this very tall, slightly overweight, semi-balding man with razor-sharp, clear blue eyes, wearing a rumpled gray suit who was now busy briefing me as to what I should say and what I should not say when grilled by the FAA prosecutor. My aviation career hung by a very thin thread indeed and I have a mental image of Ned, my only hope, holding it delicately between his very large thumb and forefinger.

Adding more hopelessness to my situation I knew that I was guilty of all the infractions the FAA was leveling against me. Armed with the knowledge that I had no defense to fall back on, my mood sank deeper into the abyss. The weight in my heart felt like an anchor pulling me down to the murky depths. I had no excuse for what I’d done. In legal parlance I was caught holding the smoking gun and my fingerprints were plastered all over it.

What I had done was indefensible, inexcusable and just plain stupid. I knew that. As an aviator who had been flying for thirteen years, I should have known better and I did. But I did it anyway. It was time to, as the police say in the movies, ‘face the music’. I could only imagine how I would feel sitting across the table from the legal representative of the FAA willing myself to disappear under his accusing gaze knowing I could not argue with the charges brought against me, because I knew that whatever charges he read, they would be irrefutable.

I shouldn’t have accepted that EMS flight that day but the urge to save a life clouded my good judgment. The helicopter had been taken out of service for maintenance. The call came in to the dispatch center to pick a 19-year old kid who had been knocked off his motorcycle on Interstate-15 near Miramar Naval Air Station. But the thought of that young man lying in the freeway with a closed-head injury and being told by the mechanic that with the help of the doctor and flight nurse, the four of us could quickly put the panels back on the helicopter, and we could be airborne in ten minutes, I foolishly took the gamble, and made that decision to go for it. Because of our haste to replace the panels on the aircraft, my decision nearly proved fatal for the doctor, flight nurse and me.

The irony wasn’t lost on me that in rushing to save the life of the 19-year-old boy in need of our services, my decision to accept that flight nearly killed all three of us. I had fallen into a classic trap other EMS pilots have fallen in to by letting the strong desire to save the patient take precedence in my decision-making thus trumping good common sense. I had sprung that trap, jumping into it with both feet with my eyes wide open. I owned the consequences of my actions. I could accept that. I was just in no hurry to hear what those consequences would be.

On the day of ‘the incident’, that took place about a month ago, the mechanic had taken the Alouette III helicopter out of service to perform routine maintenance. He told us it would only be for an hour or so. He had informed the dispatcher too, but fifty minutes later a call came in from the paramedics on scene requesting the Life Flight helicopter so, after conferring with the mechanic, the dispatcher launched the flight.

The alert tone and message came over our individual beepers. It was announced over my Motorola walkie-talkie too. It was at that point where I should have broken the link in that near-deadly chain of events that would connect me with the incident. I should have radioed back to the dispatcher telling him that we were out of service and we would not be able to accept the flight. The mechanic told me that he had in fact finished the maintenance and all that needed to be done was to put the panels back on. So I elected to go for it. Because of our haste in reinstalling the panels, a stainless steel lanyard securing one panel door to the airframe was overlooked and not fastened to the airframe. That slight oversight, that small unfastened wire, was what brought me here today and could have very well cost us our lives.

What I found ironic about my predicament was that I was not being prosecuted for the real crime I knew I had committed. I was not being brought up on charges for taking the flight when I knew I shouldn’t have. In the investigations that ensued by the base safety officer at Miramar Naval Air Station, where I had made my emergency landing after making the Mayday call, and by Roy Billings, the accident investigator for the FAA at Montgomery Field, the fact that the panels of the helicopter had been put back on by the flight crew and mechanic never came out because, as Ned pointed out to me, it was hearsay and difficult to prove.

What was revealed was that one of the Alouette’s aft cargo doors separated from the aircraft in flight and flew into one of the main rotor blades and was slung backward striking the horizontal stabilizer putting a hole in it the size of a baseball narrowly missing the tail rotor (which probably would have finished us). Witnesses below said they saw the white panel flutter from the sky like a falling leaf coming to rest in a field along Interstate 15.

What I was being accused of had nothing to do with my stupidity and bad judgment for taking the flight when the aircraft had been put out of service. I was being accused of violating my duty times, something the FAA takes very seriously and is easy to prove using the time records recorded on tape and time clock in the flight dispatch center. The severity of the crime could mean a large fine levied against me, having my pilot’s license suspended or revoked or any combination of the three.

What I found so incredibly frustrating, and indeed ironic, was that for six months I had been informing the hospital administration, at every Monday meeting, that the other pilot, Joe Hatley, and I were violating our duty times each month that we were bound by Federal Law to follow. I reported this fact to my managers at Evergreen Helicopters too, but in those six months prior to ‘the incident’ my warnings went unheeded.

I told them that the other pilot and I were dog-tired during our 48-hour shifts. I said that there would be times we were so weary from lack of sleep there were occasions we could not remember taking off from the hospital helipad. I pointed out that we were in fact breaking Federal Law whenever we took a flight when we should be resting. My pleas were dismissed by those at the hospital and by my bosses in Evergreen.

As pilot in command of the aircraft I knew the buck stopped with me. The regulations made that perfectly clear. I also knew something more important: I knew that if I exercised my right as the pilot in command to refuse a flight because I knew I would be violating my duty time, I would be fired before the sun crested the horizon the next day. I’d seen it happen in Houston two years earlier to one of the pilots who had done just that. So I knew it could just as well happen to me in San Diego. With that fact in mind that our jobs would be on the line, the other pilot and I continued to break the law.

To keep our jobs we took the risk and flew when we knew we were breaking the law. Unfortunately, it is a gamble the other pilot and I took and when the music stopped, like in musical chairs, I was the one left standing in front of the fan when the shit hit it.

The consolation prize of course is that I didn’t lose my life that day. Thinking about the mess I found myself in sickened me. It took nearly losing my life and the lives of Dr. Jim Dunford and flight nurse Maryanne Bockman, who had been flying with me that day, to finally wake up the FAA to the duty time problem. I felt like the nearer Ned and I got to Los Angeles to appear in front of the FAA prosecutor, the closer I was to being led to slaughter.

The day after the incident, an Evergreen manager flew down to San Diego from Evergreen’s headquarters located in McMinnville, Oregon. He came down to unruffle the feathers of the concerned hospital administrators at UCSD Medical Center. He said to me candidly outside the dispatch center, out of earshot from anyone else, Unfortunately, Randy, when the shit hits the fan in situations like this, the only person standing in front of it is the pilot in command.

I had to restrain myself from reaching out and wringing his fucking neck.

Ned was still briefing me as he drove as I sat in the passenger half-numb and half-listening to his instructions prepping me for the meeting with the FAA prosecutor. I nodded at what I thought were appropriate moments to acknowledge his instructions which were very easy to understand. But because Ned was a lawyer, every several miles or so he’d repeat them to me.

His instructions were clear and very simple to understand. He told me to answer either yes or no to any question the FAA prosecutor asked me. I should not contemplate answering any of his questions with a full sentence. Ned told me that this was an evidentiary hearing, a fishing expedition, to determine if there was enough evidence to bring me to trial. Ned stressed that if I suddenly got the urge to answer any of the questions with anything other than a yes or no answer, I should defer to him and let him do the talking for me.

Somewhere between Long Beach and San Pedro Ned’s voice began to trail off as if the volume control knob in my conscious mind was being slowly turned down overridden by my inner thoughts. I revisited flashbacks in chronological order of scenes that had transpired in my civil aviation career up to this point since leaving the Army ten years ago. I reviewed the adventures I’d had since becoming a civilian helicopter pilot that had eventually led me to this gut-wrenching day in my life. On my fingers, I tallied up how many times I’d nearly lost my life while flying a helicopter. Not including my one-year tour of duty as a combat helicopter pilot in Vietnam, I figured I had nearly lost my life at least four times so far as a civilian helicopter pilot. I didn’t include nearly being killed by the popular 1960’s movie actress, Susan Strasberg in my tally. I’ll tell you about that incident later.

The most vivid memory I have where I nearly lost my life happened very shortly after accepting a job as a cattle mustering pilot working on a 1632 square-mile cattle ranch situated in the remote Northern Territory of Australia. The tired little helicopter I was flying suddenly developed serious engine problems forcing me down. After successfully getting her down safely, feeling more than a little relieved for having done so, I heard a sickening Whoomph! That’s when the outside of the cockpit became engulfed in flames.

I was unsuitably dressed for a fire. Unlike the military where I wore a full Nomex flying suit, as a civilian I was dressed wearing a bright flowered Hawaiian shirt, shorts and flip-flops. I unstrapped the seatbelt and shoulder harness and hurled my body out through the open door passing through the flames like a finger passing through a candle flame. My six-foot, 185-pound frame hit the dirt hard, rolling, I stood up, unscathed, and watched, slack-jawed, as my little helicopter burned up.

I could easily recall several other instances in my civilian aviation career where I thought I was going to die, the majority of them occurring while flying as an air ambulance pilot in what I could see was becoming a very dangerous profession. I had early on noticed a disproportionate number of helicopter air ambulance crashes occurring across the country. Six people had been killed five months ago, on May 29th, when the helicopter they were flying in out of Loma Linda Medical Center crashed in heavy fog in Beaumont, California. That crash brought the total to nine people who have died since I began flying helicopter EMS.

The first incidence where I nearly lost my life as an air ambulance pilot occurred nineteen-months ago, the week after I’d finished my training at Hermann Hospital in Houston in March 1979. On that flight I pushed myself past my personal limit in an effort to try to save the life of a five-year-old girl who, we’d been told by the dispatcher, had been beaten unconscious by her step-father. I pushed the weather to try to deliver the medical team to the little girl within what is termed her Golden Hour, that hour where I was told, if the medical team can reach a trauma victim within the first hour following their being injured, the patient’s chances of survival rise astronomically. I nearly killed all three of us that night in the name of the little girl’s Golden Hour.

But I learned a valuable lesson that night. While trying to stretch my abilities to save the life of that girl I nearly killed myself and the doctor and flight nurse flying with me by inadvertently flying into a solid overcast.

On reflection, it is easy to recall the very first step I took on that road to becoming an air ambulance pilot, my Journey to the Golden Hour as I call it. My personal journey began the first day I reentered civilian life after serving three years, four months nineteen days in the United States Army as a helicopter pilot during the height of the Vietnam War. That day, the first day of my journey, was on the 1st of February 1971. It was on that joyous day my best friend and fellow helicopter pilot, Joe Sulak, and I left the Army in search of a civilian flying job.

The following is a recollection, with the help of my diaries that I began keeping when I took my first civilian flying job, detailing the events leading up to becoming a helicopter air ambulance pilot where I would unwittingly find myself a pioneer in the early days of helicopter air ambulance.

The first half of this book is the journey I took up until becoming an air ambulance pilot. The second half of the book details how I saw it grow from its infancy, with all good intentions, become the most deadly job in America.



February 1, 1971

I reached up to adjust the rearview mirror in my ’67 Volkswagen Bug and could see Joe Sulak sitting behind the wheel of his shiny, copper-colored ’67 Dodge Charger. Thick black eyebrows, trimmed black mustache his features clearly visible. I could see his head bobbing up and down, back and forth, his fingers drumming the steering wheel, lips moving, singing along with a tune blasting at the usual chest-pounding level from the eight-track tape deck. I knew he was probably listening to one of his favorites, either by Steve Miller, or Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, or the Buffalo Springfield.

California Dreamin’, by the Mamas and Papas, played as loudly as the small speakers of my eight-track tape deck could push them without blowing them out, the song enveloping the interior of my little car. I was pulling a 14-foot Laser sailboat behind me on a small trailer leading the way to Southern California, 1,200 miles to the west.

Today we were celebrating probably one of the happiest days in our young lives because today was the day we had been released from our commitment to the United States Army. Today we were now officially civilians feeling like two birds released from the constraint of our cages. We’d been set free.

Joe and I had known one another since the beginning of our army careers. We’d joined the Army on the same date, he in Big Spring, Texas, and me in Los Angeles, California. We’d gone through basic training together at Fort Polk, Louisiana, then flight school in Fort Wolters, Texas, then Fort Rucker, Alabama. We even served in the same unit in Vietnam, first platoon, Charlie Company of the 101st Airborne Division stationed in I Corps in and around the DMZ. Joe’s call sign had been Black Widow Two-Two, Double Deuce, he’d call himself, on the radio over there. My call sign had been Black Widow Two-Five.

After returning from Vietnam, we had served the past fourteen months as flight instructors at Fort Wolters, the US Army’s primary helicopter training base, sharing a two-bedroom apartment in Fort Worth during that time. Today was the day we’d been anticipating for months, the day we’d be leaving the Army for good.

I had $850 in my wallet, my final pay from the Army paymaster, not much money to begin my new life as a civilian, but I wasn’t concerned. I felt a thousand times richer. I was driving into an uncertain future with no prospects to look forward to other than the heady promise of huge potential. We were two young men giddy with euphoria.

Joe and I had discussed our plans many times over the past several months, outlining what we would do once we reached California. We would collect unemployment checks, rent an apartment in Huntington Beach, and send out resumés to helicopter companies to try to find a flying job somewhere—anywhere,—in the United States. I would teach Joe how to surf and we would just be. We both felt we sorely needed some well-deserved R&R after serving nearly three-and-a-half years in the Army during one of the most tumultuous times in our nation’s history. Joe and I wanted to get our heads back into being civilians again. We both felt we were going back to the other side, the peaceful side, away from the much maligned establishment we’d been part of. We were looking forward to going to a calmer, more tolerant place.

After Joe and I returned home from Vietnam in October 1969, it didn’t take either of us long to decide we did not want to be in the Army any longer. Following our one-year tour over there we had gone back home for our one-month leave. Joe went back to his hometown of Big Spring, Texas; I went back to Huntington Beach, California. When we met up a month later to report for duty at Fort Wolters, Texas, we noticed in one another that our attitudes had changed, primarily because of the change in consciousness we saw in the general public toward the war and those of us who had fought in it.

We were still very young men when we returned from the war. I was 23. Joe was 21. We felt our youth was slipping away. We wanted in on the free love and the free thinking prevalent during the hippy era that was spreading and gaining popularity across the land following the philosophy of doing your own thing. Doing my own thing would have included getting on a surfboard again in Southern California, not going to central Texas to be a flight instructor in the US Army. But, of course, when you are in the Army you cannot quit, not without severe and unpleasant consequences. So Joe and I simply decided to make the best of the situation and do our time until allowed to leave, which happened to be today. Today was the day of our release. We were finally headed westbound from Fort Worth, passing through Mineral Wells, on our way to the West Coast.

We drove past the gates of Fort Wolters for one last time. Wolters, as it was called by those who served there, was the primary flight training base for all future Army helicopter pilots. It was one of the largest, if not the largest, helicopter training facility in the world at the time. Joe and I had taught young men the basics of flying so that they could eventually go on to fight a war that we had not been able to win.

I peered out to my right and could see the OH-23 and TH-55 training helicopters coming into view, perched on their pedestals on each side of the entrance to the base. I remember thinking, with great relish, this would be the last time Joe and I ever set foot on that training base again, halleluiah!

Leaving Mineral Wells and the Army behind us in the rearview mirror and with nineteen hours of driving ahead of us gave me time to reflect on those three years, four months and nineteen days I had spent in the US Army. I knew that was exactly how long I had served because it was documented on my DD-214, the one-page document issued to all servicemen when they leave the US military. That one page summed up my short career, a page that for many of us would supply a lifetime of memories. I knew there were guys with whom I’d served whose military service would be the best, the most nostalgic and most revisited memories of their lives. I hoped I had more adventures ahead of me and that my experiences in the Army would simply be one small chapter amongst many varied and interesting chapters I would have in my life.

I thought back at how lucky Joe and I had been to make it through our one-year tour of duty in Vietnam without being killed, maimed or affected adversely psychologically. We had been told by our tactical officers in flight school, prior to going over to Vietnam, Look around you, candidate, and look around you good because one in three of you isn’t coming back. Joe and I had beaten those odds. We had survived. There was

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