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“The memories are as intense today as they were some 40 years ago.” (Video interview 43:47)

   Joseph Horace McHenry
Collection image
Joseph McHenry [detail from video]
War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Army
Unit: Company A, 82nd Aviation Brigade; 173rd Airborne Brigade
Service Location: Fort Ord, California; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Fort Wolters, Texas; Fort Rucker, Alabama; Bien Hoa, Vietnam; Nuremberg, Germany
Rank: Chief Warrant Officer
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As a kid growing up near the airport in Arizona, Chief Warrant Officer Joseph McHenry marveled at planes flying overhead. His dream of becoming a pilot was realized when he enlisted in the Army and received orders for flight school. The reality of piloting a helicopter in Vietnam, which put him in the center of action, was a rude awakening. In one instance, he attempted a landing on a “hot” LZ; he was shot down and found himself in the middle of an intense firefight with the enemy. In his interview, he describes the confidence and swagger of pilots—and their dependence on the constant rush of adrenaline that comes with flying. As an adrenaline junkie, he was even more prone to developing post-traumatic stress disorder after leaving the service.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (3 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (68 min.)
 Official Documents
»View List (4 items)
 Other Materials
»173rd Airborne Brigade History
More like this
»Vietnam War: Looking Back, Part 2
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (3 items)
Early days at flight school; struggling to learn how to hover aircraft. (00:55) Flying mission to resupply unit of the 173rd Airborne; landing in the middle of a big firefight; very nearly hit; had to give up weapons to unit; running out of ammunition. (10:18) Egotism and self-assuredness of pilots; thoughts on PTSD; problems with family life; putting his life on the line every day but paying a price. (17:30)
 Official Documents (4 items)
Memo appointing veteran as a Reserve Warrant Officer of the Army General Orders number 255 awarding the Air Medal General Orders number 48 awarding the Purple Heart
Report of Separation and Record of Service  

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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