Bedford, Pennsylvania - United States Air Force
I had long hair and peace beads and I'd already been to a few peace marches. I go to open the recruiter's door and he's sitting there with his iconic cup of coffee. And he just looks at me. He was probably thinking I was coming in to protest or say something nasty to him but I told this guy, “Look. I want to join the Army. I want to be a helicopter pilot. I want to go to the flight school and I want to go to Vietnam.”
My door gunners were 18-years-old and I was aircraft commander at 20. We were just a bunch of kids; really scared kids. There were these guys wearing American uniforms, but none of them looked young. They could have only be another year or two older than I was. Some of the guys just walked past you and it was like they didn't see anything. They had this blank stare, which turns out to be the thousand-yard stare. I now know those were the guys that had been in combat.
I desperately wanted to be out of this mess. I'm here to save as many guys as possible so they can get on the freedom bird to go back home. This was not what I signed up for - this was not my patriotism here.