Utah Honor Flight offers Santa Clara vet likelihood to pay homage to these he fought with in Vietnam – St George News

ST. GEORGE — Behind enemy traces, you get near your fellow service members. No man is left behind.

There usually is not any time to assume. Solely time to behave.

And lives depend on it.

James Harper of Santa Clara remembers what this was like whereas serving in Vietnam. Reminiscences got here flooding again of his time as an Air Drive Particular Operations pilot throughout his latest Utah Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.

Harper’s tour of the nation’s capital allowed him and his son to absorb the monuments devoted to America’s freedom. Throughout his navy service, Harper and plenty of others put their lives in danger – and did so willingly.

“We had been attempting to fly at evening and in the course of the day. If it was at evening, we flew at a low stage of 200 toes,” Harper stated. “When you had been to take a particular forces staff to a touchdown zone or a drop zone, it needed to be clandestine; you didn’t wish to get caught.”

Harper has waited three years, because of the pandemic earlier than he may journey on a Utah Honor Flight. In June, Harper, 88 years outdated, traveled along with his oldest son Martin to go to the warfare memorials in Washington, D.C., with the Utah Honor Flight.

James Harper, in his residence along with his assortment, just lately went on a Utah Honor Flight along with his son Martin, July 1, 2022 | Picture by Stephanie DeGraw, St. George News

Harper was within the Air Drive Particular Operations and flew the C-47 aircraft in Vietnam in 1962 and 1963. He stated he was touched once they visited the Vietnam Warfare Memorial.

“I finished counting at 22. However I do know there have been extra males than that,” Harper stated. “And a few of these guys and I had been fairly shut.”

Harper graduated from highschool in 1952 and later graduated from Purdue College in Air Transportation Engineering. When he obtained one other draft discover, he went to Indianapolis and enlisted within the Air Drive.

In the course of the Vietnam Warfare, Harper skilled “esprit de corps” – a sense of satisfaction and fellowship shared by members of the Air Drive.

Jim Harper (seated) with son, Martin, behind him earlier than leaving for the Utah Honor Flight and on the left is Utah State Daughters of the American Revolution Regent Kathryn Asay and on the precise is Utah Daughters of the American Revolution member Danielle Cahoon, Salt Lake Metropolis, Utah, June 7, 2022 | Picture offered by Utah State Society Daughters of the American Revolution, St. George News

“Serving within the warfare, afterward it was particular, not when you’re doing it significantly,” Harper stated. “The most effective place within the navy is particular operations. Within the military, it’s the Inexperienced Berets and within the Navy, it’s SEALs, and within the Air Drive, it’s our Commandos. There isn’t something higher than their esprit de corps in these items as a result of everybody is devoted.”

Martin Harper stated it was an honor to escort his father on the Utah Honor Flight. Just one different particular person may go together with Harper.

“He was very enthusiastic about it,” Martin stated. “My dad was like just a little child to me. He was thrilled.”

Martin Harper stated at many websites the group toured, folks and youngsters of all ages thanked the veterans for his or her service. One in every of Martin Harper’s favourite moments on the journey was once they had been on the Nationwide Mall and it was sweltering. They needed ice cream from an ice cream truck, however the line was lengthy. His father bought within the line and the following factor he seen was his father was immediately on the entrance of the road.

“Individuals stated, ‘Oh, you’re a veteran. Why don’t you go forward and order forward of us?’ which is sort of touching,” Martin Harper stated. “I feel it was actually respectful.”

Jim Harper’s expertise was when warfare was very “rudimentary.” In the course of the Vietnam Warfare, Harper stated each SEAL staff on a mission has no less than one Air Drive, particular operations and techniques staff assigned to them.

Troopers had a bodily map and needed to know the coordinates of artillery and pleasant forces. The targets had been marked with phosphorus flares. Then the fighters had been known as in one by one to strike the targets.

Harper recommends the e-book “Hit My Smoke” by Jan Churchill to know his expertise. Harper considers himself as being “very lucky to serve” throughout that period. He recalled his intense missions.

“We had been attempting to fly at evening and in the course of the day. If it was at evening, we flew at a low stage of 200 toes,” Harper stated. “When you had been to take a particular forces staff to a touchdown zone or a drop zone, it needed to be clandestine; you didn’t wish to get caught.”

Harper stated he was fortunate he served early within the warfare as a result of the enemy didn’t have the large anti-aircraft weapons when he was there.

“They’d smaller arms and so they had been capturing at us,” Harper stated.

He remembered the dark-skinned indigenous mountain folks often known as the Montagnards. They had been recruited into service by the American Special Forces in Vietnam in opposition to the Viet Cong and served as fast response forces. The Montagnards had round six tribes up and down the mountains the place Harper was close to.

Particular camps had been arrange for the U.S. particular forces staff to coach them for self-defense. The tribal chiefs requested this as a result of that they had no weapons besides blow weapons and crossovers to struggle in opposition to the Viet Cong taxing them. Harper stated the Montagnard could be attacked in the event that they couldn’t pay the tax. There have been 30 tribes Montagnard complete in Vietnam.

“We labored with the Inexperienced Berets to arrange these Particular camps. We took them sandbags and barbed wire, so that they had been establishing their camps and we defended them once they got here beneath assault,” Harper stated.

The Montagnards already had an uneasy relationship with Vietnam’s varied central governments by the point the USA Special Forces first arrived in Vietnam within the early Nineteen Sixties.

“The province chief would name the CIA down in Saigon and say, ‘We’d like a particular forces staff for this village.’ And so we’d go down and decide up the staff and ship a person, we simply air-landed him closest to the province chief headquarters, after which they’d meet the village chief,” Harper stated.

Harper additionally recollects how the Montagnards had been out at evening combating. The U.S. troops didn’t struggle at evening; they hunkered down of their bunkers, hoping they didn’t get attacked. However the Viet Cong had been coming at evening.

After Harper’s service in Vietnam, he met his spouse Beverly at Travis Air Drive Base in California. He took a place in Germany educating pilots and establishing a brand new squadron for these heading to the warfare. They stayed in Germany for 3 years. Then he left the navy and the couple moved to Beverly’s hometown of Riverside, California, the place they owned a interest enterprise for 35 years. The corporate additionally had retailers in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Reno, Nevada.

The Harpers moved to Santa Clara in 2006. He enjoys studying warfare books and mannequin trains. Harper loves spending time along with his household. He has two sons, three ladies, 18 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

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