The Library of Congress Veterans History Project Home 
Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project
Home » George Jerome Marsinko

"We do many different things because helicopters are multi-mission capable." (Video Interview, 2:56)

   George Jerome Marsinko
Collection image
George Marsinko [2005]
War: Persian Gulf War, 1991
Branch: Navy
Service Location: Jacksonville, Florida; San Diego, California
Rank: Chief
View Full Description

In 1989, at the age of 19, George Marsinko joined the Navy after his father died and there was no money for him to attend college. He spent the next 16 years manning helicopters that flew primarily antisubmarine missions. His belief that if you train properly you'll know how to handle yourself under pressure served him well through a variety of missions. Marsinko understood the complexities of helicopters, which allowed them to perform so many tasks but also made them challenging to operate and maintain.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (6 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (52 min.)
More like this
»Helicopters: The Multi-Mission Aircraft
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (6 items)
Why he joined the Navy; service locations; in an antisubmarine warfare unit; flying peacetime missions with the same intensity and purpose as if they were in wartime, to be prepared for the possibility of war; crew of four in his helicopter; in the Navy crews have to be trained to do a multitude of jobs. (05:07) Helicopters have more moving parts than a fixed-wing aircraft; aerodynamics based solely on rotors which work against each other; use of night-vision goggles; one of his duties was to scan and alert pilots of potential dangers; enforcing the U.N. resolution to apprehend oil smuggling operations out of Iraq, a perilous operation; high-altitude flying presents other dangers; made some of those flights over Kosovo. (04:48) In 1998, with squadron known as the "Dusty Dogs" when a good friend was killed in accident caused by poor piloting skills; morale among many of the sailor's comrades was so damaged they didn't want to fly; Marsinko was asked to talk to them and get them refocused on the need to carry on. (04:53)
His training; fortunately entering the Navy on an air crew program that funneled him into that area; skills he learned in air crewman training, then search and rescue school; very tough, with third highest attrition rate in Navy; learning about sonar systems; trained on how to react as a prisoner of war under Geneva convention, not torture; that training teaching students a lot about themselves; graduation is a very emotional event. (05:43) Started in Navy during Cold War when military was held in low regard; nation wasn't supportive, but his family was; after Gulf War, general attitudes changed for the better; support ebbed again during Clinton administration; doesn't see a difference between supporting the troops and supporting the mission. (03:59) Giving up your freedom when you deploy on an aircraft carrier; personal space is very limited; experience in war makes your more introspective. (02:32)

Home » George Jerome Marsinko
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
  Legal | External Link Disclaimer Need Help?   
Contact Us