Hello Jumping Mustang 6: CLOVIS JONES WRITES: (27 Oct 2002)
First of all, it is an Honor to be writing to you. I am proud to have served as one of your soldiers. Your leadership, experience, example; and the training that you prescribed helped me to become a better soldier and later an attack Helicopter Pilot with keen awareness of NVA tactics. Because of my experience in the 1/8th, I made a much better pilot than I otherwise would have. I had you, your Huey Pilot, and the pilots of the 229th Aviation Company and 1/9th Cav as examples.
My name is Clovis Jones, Jr. I was originally assigned to C Company and later transferred to HHC where I served as an S-1 Clerk and Battalion's field Mail Clerk. My job was to make sure that the Bn got its mail while in the field. During our Pleiku operations I would go back and forth by helicopter, but my most exciting and lonely times were driving our specially outfitted jeep (50 Cal. on the hood, M-60 on monopod mount, sandbagged floor, M-79, my M-16 and lots of ammo) down Highway 19 and then North on Highway 1 to our CP when we operated in the coastal plains. I departed Vietnam and the Army in June 1966.
I am very happy to be able to thank you for your help in getting to Flight School. Had it not been for you and CSM McCullough I would not have become an Army Aviator nor have my career as an airline pilot today. I left the Army when I got to Oakland and went to Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA as a Pre-Medicine student. During my first semester I received a call from the Aviation Branch wanting to know if I was still interested in going to Flight School. I left college, reenlisted for Fort Campbell, and served under CSM McCullough until I got orders for Rotorary Wing School. I finished Flight School in April 1968 and was assigned to Fort Sill, OK to the newly forming 4/77th Aerial Field Artillery Battalion. I was immediately sent back to Ft Rucker to Instructor Pilot's (IP) and IP Gunnery Schools. I served my second tour with the 4/77 AFA in the 101st Airborne Div at Camp Eagle from December 1968 to December 1969. I flew Huey Gunships and Cobras, and was an IP in both. Additionally, I was an Assistant Operations Officer and a Section Leader. Whenever I had a fire mission I always kept in mind what a 229th pilot told me when I was hitching a ride from Pleiku to the Golf Course one day, "We bring it to you even if we have to bring it to you in the grass.". I recall identifying many of our KIA and thinking to myself what could have been done to help them or save their lives... Whether day or night I gave my all to give great fire support to the troops on the ground. During mid 1969 I helped to prevent Fire Base Sally in I Corp from being overrun one night while flying a single ship mission by flying low and shooting close to our troops because I knew that there would be wave after wave. I got a direct commission as a Field Artillery Second Lieutenant ten days before the end of this tour. Upon returning to the states I attended Field Artillery Basic, became an Academic Instructor at the Warrant Officers Career Colleges, completed Field Artillery Advance Course, served as a Battalion S-2, and left active duty in 1973. I joined the Army National Guard where I became a dual rated aviator. I finished my military career in the California Army National Guard after commanding an Air Cav Troop and 22 plus years of service. My first civilian flying job was for Hughes Helicopters, Flight Test Division, working on the YAH-64 project as a chase, rescue, and transport pilot. Then on to Xerox as a corporate pilot, followed by Western Airlines and Air California until I was furloughed from each; and in January 1984 I went to FedEx. I am a Captain on the MD-11/MD-10 where I fly both domestic and international trips.
Currently I am recovering from a lung injury caused by the spraying of an aerosol pesticide in my hotel room while I occupied it. I have been off work for almost four months. I watched Ollie North's War Stories on Helicopter Wars and that motivated me to make every effort to reestablish contact with the Jumping Mustangs and the 4/77. I spoke with LTC Bell on Tuesday and he sent me the Special Jumping Mustang Update of 6 OCT 2002. I am being sent membership information for the 1st Cav Association and will join as soon as I get the packet.
You advised me to keep a diary. Regretfully I did not keep it up. Maybe I will start again. Thank you for all that you have done for me. I don't know if you even remember me or not, however, I am grateful and thankful that you came into my life as a leader, warrior, aviator, mentor, and fine human being.
KENNETH D. MERTEL, retired from US Army in 1975, as a Colonel, Infantry, after 33 years service, including 3 years enlisted service. Married (now a widower), one daughter and two splendid grandsons. Retired, except for 18 months in Iran in 1978-79 as a U. S. Aviation Advisor to the Iranian Army.
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