The Chronicles of Harold
By Harold, Editor-At-Large
A Return to the Uniform for Better (I Hoped) or Worse
Part 2 of 2
Chances to Fly
While in the Unit there were a number of pilots who were constantly coming and going and one was a Capt. who had been one of the med evac pilots loaned to the French government in Indo-China to evacuate wounded soldiers from the battlefield. They used H-13’s that were prominently marked with the Red Cross and an understanding with the Viet Minh was since they were non-combatants and volunteers they would not bother them. It worked that way until some of the French armed several of the H-13’s we had lent them and after that the Viet Minh would fire on our aircraft. Capt Luster was captured sometime in 1955 and was released in 1960 and when he would talk about his experiences, he would always say, “I sure hope we do not get involved in that fur ball over there since it is one we can’t win short of nuclear annihilation.”
He started giving me some stick time when he found my status and he sympathized with me since I did not get to go to pilots training. Several other pilots, including one Warrant Officer who visited our house quite frequently, took me up enough and totally qualified me on the H-34 helicopter. I was already signed off on H-13’s, H-19’s and H-23’s. I had wanted to learn to fly the tandem rotor helicopter, but the only H-21’s that were available were the static units we trained on at the school.
I really appreciated being qualified in the ships and once when we had one of the XH-40’s that field maintenance were assigned for evaluation for a week to study maintenance requirements, I got a chance to fly my first turbine aircraft. [The pictures I have found on the web for both the XH-40 and the HU-1A are not the same aircraft I was familiar with since they both depict the HU-1B type main rotor head with the stabilizer located above the rotor head when in the earlier versions, the stabilizer bar was below the rotor head like the H-13 series of helicopters. Under a heavy load and windy conditions, the placement of the stabilizer bar above the rotor head made the ships fly much smoother. ]
While stationed there my wife gave birth to our first son. She spent another six weeks with her mother and sister and uncle and then I came and picked her up to take down to Ft. Knox with me. I asked her mother if it was okay with her or if she would rather I left Catherine with her.
She said, “Her place is with her husband.” She died during the night while Catherine and I were enroute back to Ft. Knox. We had to turn around and drive back up there for her funeral as soon as I checked in the next morning.
Later, her younger sister became dissatisfied with the arrangement living with her half-brother and asked if she could come live with us. The Red Cross got involved and I wound up being appointed her legal guardian until she reached the age of 21. Even though her social security stopped the month before she turned eighteen. She was with us for about six or eight months and then I was shipped to Korea again and Catherine had to return home to Illinois to await my return
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