Buddy was born and raised in southwest Jefferson County around Valley Station. His father and uncle had moved there in 1928 and were running a dairy farm when Buddy was born in 1939.
In 1957, Buddy graduated from Valley High School and went to the University of Kentucky that fall. During this time, all young men going into college without previous military experience were required to take 2 years of ROTC. After that 2-year period, Buddy chose to continue in the program which included Basic Training at Ft Knox between his junior and senior year. As a senior at UK, he attended fixed wing training at Blue Grass field in Lexington. He graduated as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1961 and was sent to Camp Wolters Texas for primary helicopter training. After 4 months, he went to Fort Rucher, Alabama for another 4 months and then on to Ft Knox to join the helicopter unit there.
Buddy’s unit, originally the 17th Air Cavalry C troop, was later reactivated as the 114th Air Mobile Company. It was the first helicopter unit to be sent from the United States to Vietnam to provide support for the growing conflict in the region. They arrived in Vinh Long, Republic of South Vietnam in May 1963.
Buddy remembers flying 7 days a week with a total of almost 1500 hours during his 13-month deployment. He flew mostly support missions transporting south Vietnamese personnel to areas of engagement. He was primarily stationed in Vinh Long which lies around 100 miles south of Saigon in the Mekong Delta of southern Vietnam. The base was established on an old Japanese airstrip from World War II. They lived in tents with wood flooring and slept on cots with mosquito nets for most of Buddy’s deployment.
Two of the main events he remembers during his time there were the assassinations of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem followed just a few weeks later by United States President John F. Kennedy. Another significant event was a helicopter accident that took the life of one of his friends. Buddy had been flying ahead of him when the other helicopter lost its tail and crashed. Sadly, this would not be his only friend that would not make it home.
Buddy’s time in Vietnam concluded in June 1964. Once back at home, Buddy continued active duty until November 1964, serving a total of 3 years. He returned to work on his family’s farm and was able to use his pilot skills as a fill-in for the WKYW traffic helicopter in Louisville.
Buddy married Carol Ann in 1965 and they moved to Hardin County to a piece of land his father had purchased near Big Springs. They started their life and farm together on that land with a new silo and milking parlor. They still live there over 58 years later.
Buddy says he is looking forward to going on the Honor Flight. This will be the first time he gets to see the Vietnam Memorial Wall in D.C. and the names of those honored on it. His friends’ names will be among them. He will also get to experience the gratitude that is due to all those who, like Buddy, put themselves in harm’s way in service to their country.