Three Tours; Artillery, Helicopters, Air America

William (Bill) R. Andrews, Jr.

Naval ROTC

My freshman year I lived on the second floor of Phelps House, the freshman dorm. We shared a bathroom with three other two-man rooms.  The student dorm advisor was in NROTC and thought it would be neat to have a “Navy Suite”, so all of my suitemates were on NROTC scholarships.  That meant that on Thursday nights, the place smelled of shoe polish and Brasso as all eight of us got our uniforms ready for Friday’s drill.

The summer after my freshman year, I ended up on the USS Lake Champlain, an anti submarine aircraft carrier.  It was the last straight-deck carrier in the US Navy.  It had been in service […]

The Basic School

In June 1965, I reported to the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Virginia, which is home to various training facilities for Marine officers, the Army’s Provost Marshal General, NCIS Headquarters, The DEA Training Academy, the FBI Academy, and the FBI Lab, as well as HMX-1, the unit that flies the President’s helicopters.  We had to wait for the US Naval Academy midshipmen to graduate before starting Basic School.  For two weeks we rode USMC buses into Washington, DC touring the various monuments and the Smithsonian Institute.  It was a fantastic opportunity to visit DC and not have to worry about parking.

The Basic School is the Marine Corps’ training for all freshly minted 2nd Lieutenants. The course consisted of […]

Vietnam

Now that I had graduated from college, a Marine school, and an Army school, it was time for the Mother of all Senior Trips. I flew commercial across the country to San Francisco in April 1966. I was wearing summer khakis and found S.F. to be quite chilly that time of the year.  A Boeing 707 chartered from a commercial air carrier flew us to Okinawa, with a refueling stop in Guam.  The seating was arranged for the maximum number of passengers and every single seat was full.  There were no movies, no peanuts, and no fun.  When we got to Okinawa, I’m sure we got shots for every disease known to man plus a couple more.  We […]

Flight School

Initially I had received orders to Parris Island as a Recruit Company Commander. During my tour in VN, I had put in for flight training, so my orders were changed, and I went to NAS Pensacola. It was interesting to see the improvement in my hearing on my flight physical, once I got to Pensacola, compared to the one I took in Vietnam.  I started flight school in June and received my wings as a helicopter pilot in May 1968. While in flight school, (according to Navy Times) I was one of only six 23-year old Captains in the USMC at that time. In peacetime it normally took 4 to 5 years to make Captain.  The fact that […]

Flight Instuctor & Air America

July 1970, I reported to Helicopter Training Squadron 8 (HT8) as a Flight Instructor flying UH1D’s (Huey’s.) Learning to fly an aircraft a fraction the size of a CH-53, while simultaneously instructing the student in the lesson being taught was challenging at first. We had to learn to repeat the maneuver description as it was written in the Students’ Procures Handbook, as we did the procedures in the aircraft. Once I got comfortable with the Huey it was a breeze. I enjoyed it so much, I would have stayed there and instructed for the rest of my working days if I could have.

In 1969 Hurricane Camille hit the Mississippi Coast and destroyed the area.  I had flown over […]

2021-02-16T20:44:09-06:00