Vietnam Veteran Makes Living as Helicopter Pilot

A helicopter pilot who served in Vietnam has discovered that his area of the service is able to sustain his daily living as a career. He spent a full year flying choppers in South Vietnam, leaving behind his family, and was still active in the military upon his return. Today, he continues to make his daily bread as a helicopter pilot and trainer, living off of the skill he knows best.

Frank Esposito specializes in Huey-model aircraft, and has spent over twenty-five years at the helm as an aviator. He comes from a long line of Esposito men who have performed military service. He did not originally sign on for aviation, but was inspired when he saw another helicopter pilot fly past him as he was doing routine maintenance work at Fort Knox. It was not long before he was performing his duties in Vietnam as a member of the 2/17 Air Cavalry 101 Airborne Division, Second Squadron. He learned a great deal about the world and its culture, including an introduction to country music.

Johnny Cash and Tammy Wynette were among the new bits of culture that Esposito picked up during active duty. His crewmates were big fans and spent no time waiting before introducing him to what became a favored form of music. In some ways, the helicopter pilot felt that the service experience was good for him as a result of his expanded knowledge regarding the musical world. He also spent a great deal of time reading, including the letters from his wife, The Slate reports.

Like many admirable veterans, Esposito does not consider himself heroic. He considers himself to be a man who performed his duties and was lucky enough to have served with true heroes. The aging helicopter pilot looks back on his service fondly, and does not appear to suffer from any sort of PTSD. If he did, he likely would not be able to continue flying choppers for a living. He is, however, grateful to have survived the Vietnam War when so many of his fellows did not.

Living now as a helicopter pilot, a skill which he did not even foresee acquiring when he first joined the service, Esposito is satisfied with his current life. He still has a number of photographs from when he was overseas, and he concentrates more on the happy memories than the negative ones. Considering how many people left Vietnam as shells of their former selves, the story of this helicopter pilot appears to be a particularly uplifting one.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE