South Missouri Chapter of VHPA

South Missouri Chapter of VHPA

Army Aviator

Air Force Aviator

The VHPASMO is a totally separate, independent entity and is not authorized to act as an agent, or representative, of the VHPA or any other chapters.


It seems the military has always been a part of my life. I was from a military family. We lived on numerous Air Force bases in CONUS and overseas before my father retired and we moved back to Oklahoma City where he lived before he joined the service.

VHPASMO Past Presidents

SOUTH MISSOURI CHAPTER OF THE VIETNAM HELICOPTER PILOTS ASSOCIATION


After graduation from high school and in the face of the draft, I was fortunate enough at the age of eighteen to get accepted to the Army's Warrant Officer Rotary Wing Aviator Course. My commitment to the Army was three years if I graduated from flight school or the remainder of two years if I didn't. My class was 68-507 (Blue Hats) which started in August of 1967 at Ft Wolters and we graduated 1 July 1968 at Ft Rucker. The entire class, with the exception of about six of us, was assigned to the 101st Aviation Battalion of the 101st Airborne forming at Ft Carson, Colorado.  I was fortunate enough to go directly from flight school to Chinook transition as a WO1. Immediately after training, I was sent to Vietnam and ended up in the 196th Assault Support Helicopter Company, Lane Field, An Son. To this day, I am thankful to everyone that had a part in my flight training and for having the patience and confidence in me to accomplish duties and responsibilities which, at that time, were normally only extended to 2nd and 3rd tour aviators.

The 196th ASHC turned out to be a great place to be assigned. The company was full of senior aviators, some who had served in WWII or Korea. It took a bit for them to get used to having some very, very young aviators around, but they stepped up and met the challenge and taught us what we needed to know to survive and be an asset to the company. There were good days, and some not so good. Like everyone else, you take the good with the bad and endure as best you can. My tour was complete in December of 1969. I returned to CONUS and became a Chinook instructor at Hanchey AAF, Ft Rucker.

Soon, an opportunity to take a direct commission to 1st Lieutenant and get dual rated arose. I took advantage of the opportunity and completed the training for T-41s, T-42s and Fixed Wing Examiners Course at Ft Rucker in 1970-71.  In the summer of 1971 I completed cross-training as a Rotary Wing Examiner, followed shortly by promotion to captain and my 22nd birthday.

An assignment to another overseas tour in Southeast Asia was imminent. In late 1971, I received orders to attend Armor Officer's Basic Course en-route an APO address in Thailand with the 46th Special Forces Company in Lopburi. Flying for Special Forces was very, very interesting.

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Naval Aviator

Coast Guard Aviator

Bill Thompson - VHPASMO

2013 - 2015

VHPASMO Member bio
Jesse R. (Russ) Emory
Past President 2011-2013


Active Military Duty: US Army June 1966 to April 1971, Vietnam June 1969 to May 1970

 I entering the service June 1966, Basic Training Fort Bliss, Texas after basic to Fort Rucker, Alabama Crew chief school UH-1, after Crew chief school assigned to Fort MacArthur, California, 47th Artillery Brigade, aviation support to Nike missile sites in Southern California.

Subsequently, I entered Warrant Officer Candidate Flight School Class 69-9 August 1968-May 1969. Fort Rucker, Ala.

Marine Aviator

I returned to CONUS in 1973 and was assigned as Operations Officer of the 159th Chinook Battalion of the 101st Airborne at Ft Campbell. Here I found time to work on my college degree. But the following year, I learned my chances for future aviation assignments were next to nil. The Aviation Branch for commissioned officers had not yet come to be. Not wanting to make a career out of the Army as a ground commander, I was preparing to get out of the Army when I was contacted by a recruiter from Ross Perot's company, EDS. I worked for EDS for some time after I got out of the Army, later returning to Oklahoma where I finished college, upgraded my civilian pilot license and became a flight instructor at Oklahoma University. In time an opportunity came along to move to Dallas as an Army Reserve Technician (flight instructor) at the Dallas Naval Air Station and Reservist in the 300th Aviation Company. Some years later I was hired by the FAA as a Flight Safety Inspector/Pilot Examiner in Lubbock, Texas. After working for several years in the field office, I took an assignment as an instructor training aviation safety inspectors at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City and managed several flight training courses for FAA inspectors and other federal agencies.

In 1987, I was offered a one year position with United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization based in the Middle East.  After a long interview and vetting process, I transferred to International Civil Service and arrived in Abu Dhabi in late 1987 as manager of the project which would bring the civil aviation authority of the United Arab Emirates under the ICAO umbrella for international aviation and set the ground work for the beginning of Emirates Airlines as an international carrier.  Eight years later, I left the Middle East and returned to the FAA Flight Inspection Organization in Oklahoma City as a check pilot, then as manager of the Check Airmen Section of the National Flight Inspection Organization.I retired from the FAA in 1997 and continued flying Falcon 50s and Challengers internationally until 2003. Today, I continue to fly full time in as a corporate pilot based here in Springfield, Missouri.

Email for Bill Thompson
wthom65802@aol.com

Bill Thompson's Photo Gallery

Air America

My assignment in Vietnam was from June 1969 to May 1970. I was assigned to “A” Company 25th Avn. Bn. 25th Infantry Division. (Little Bears) “A” Company provided support to the 25th Infantry Division Vietnam. In 1970 after having seen combat in the Saigon area during the Tet offensive 1968, the Division continued its primary operations around Cu Chi, South Vietnam and in Spring of 1970 sent elements into Cambodia seeking North Vietnamese Army sanctuaries.

As a pilot A Company flying a UH-1 aircraft, I flew support operation in the 25th Division area of operation (Cu Chi, Tay Ninh). Missions included, resupply, night hawk, flame bath, defoliation, insertions, extractions and command and control. Flying “slicks” until December 1969, I began flying Command and Control for Assistant Division Commander, 25th Infantry Division Brigadier General Thomas Camp. General Camp was aviation qualified and flew left seat. I was qualified as instructor pilot to fly General Camp. I found flying Command and Control missions rewarding because I was able to see a different view of the war. General Camp was reassigned to Saigon April 1970 and Colonel Thurmon became Assistant Division Commander. I continued to fly these type of missions with Colonel Thurmon.  In May, 1970 we began flying into Cambodia in search of North Vietnamese Army sanctuaries.

In June, 1970, I  left Vietnam for United States, with a duty assignment to 1st Brigade 1st Armor Division,  Fort Hood, Texas where I became the Maintenance Officer for aviation unit (OH-23’s) until April, 1971.

I left military April, 1971 returned to civilian life in Ventura, California, where I worked for Ventura County Fire Department. I worked in various assignments; aviation, fire suppression, fire prevention, and hazardous materials, retiring in 1997 and was twice awarded Firefighter of the Year.

In November, 1997 I became part of the faculty at Oxnard College, Ventura County Community College District, teaching Fire Technology and instructing in the Fire Academy, again retiring in December, 2007.

Active Military Duty: US Army June 1966 to April 1971, Vietnam June 1969 to May 1970

 I entering the service June 1966, Basic Training Fort Bliss, Texas after basic to Fort Rucker, Alabama Crew chief school UH-1, after Crew chief school assigned to Fort MacArthur, California, 47th Artillery Brigade, aviation support to Nike missile sites in Southern California.

Subsequently, I entered Warrant Officer Candidate Flight School Class 69-9 August 1968-May 1969. Fort Rucker, Ala.

My assignment in Vietnam was from June 1969 to May 1970. I was assigned to “A” Company 25th Avn. Bn. 25th Infantry Division. (Little Bears) “A” Company provided support to the 25th Infantry Division Vietnam. In 1970 after having seen combat in the Saigon area during the Tet offensive 1968, the Division continued its primary operations around Cu Chi, South Vietnam and in Spring of 1970 sent elements into Cambodia seeking North Vietnamese Army sanctuaries.

As a pilot A Company flying a UH-1 aircraft, I flew support operation in the 25th Division area of operation (Cu Chi, Tay Ninh). Missions included, resupply, night hawk, flame bath, defoliation, insertions, extractions and command and control. Flying “slicks” until December 1969, I began flying Command and Control for Assistant Division Commander, 25th Infantry Division Brigadier General Thomas Camp. General Camp was aviation qualified and flew left seat. I was qualified as instructor pilot to fly General Camp. I found flying Command and Control missions rewarding because I was able to see a different view of the war. General Camp was reassigned to Saigon April 1970 and Colonel Thurmon became Assistant Division Commander. I continued to fly these type of missions with Colonel Thurmon.  In May, 1970 we began flying into Cambodia in search of North Vietnamese Army sanctuaries.

In June, 1970, I  left Vietnam for United States, with a duty assignment to 1st Brigade 1st Armor Division,  Fort Hood, Texas where I became the Maintenance Officer for aviation unit (OH-23’s) until April, 1971.

I left military April, 1971 returned to civilian life in Ventura, California, where I worked for Ventura County Fire Department. I worked in various assignments; aviation, fire suppression, fire prevention, and hazardous materials, retiring in 1997 and was twice awarded Firefighter of the Year.

In November, 1997 I became part of the faculty at Oxnard College, Ventura County Community College District, teaching Fire Technology and instructing in the Fire Academy, again retiring in December, 2007.

In June, 2008 we moved from Ventura, California to Bolivar, Missouri.
My wife, Jane and I have 3 sons, Robert, Steven and James. I have
been blessed in so many ways. At present involved with development
of South Missouri Chapter Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association web site www.vhpasmo.org. What a great experience it has been.