Night had fallen when the call came to my squadron's ready...

Night had fallen when the call came to my squadron's ready room to fly two helicopters to the Marine Corps base at Khe Sanh, Vietnam. It was December 1967, and this had been a long day of flying.

Most of the pilots had already headed for the officers' club at our base to have a few drinks. I was a Christian Scientist and one of only two aircraft commanders who had not consumed any alcohol. Thus, despite the fact that I was the most junior aircraft commander in the squadron, the commanding officer had no option but to send me and another inexperienced pilot on what was expected to be a long and difficult mission.

The weather was bad, and it was with considerable trepidation that I climbed into the cockpit while trying to hold to this truth from Science and Health by Mrs. Eddy (p. 385): "Whatever it is your duty to do, you can do without harm to yourself."

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May 18, 1987

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