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Gary Joyner - Vietnam War

Gary Joyner had a long and distinguished career as an Army Aviator, first as a Warrant Officer and later as a commissioned officer. He served two tours in Vietnam, the first beginning in late 1964 in the early stages of America's involvement in the war, and the second in 1968 during the height of the war. He earned a Distinguished Flying Cross during his first tour, and a Silver Star during the second. Joyner spent the next 18 years in the Army, much of that time working in aviation safety and later as an organizational effectiveness consultant, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1986. Joyner also discusses the incident in 1983 when he became a born again Christian.

Interview Links

Feature Excerpt

Ia Drang Gunship

Abstract

Interview Session 01 (Audio)

Early life, military training and 1965 tour of duty in Vietnam

Interview Session 02 (Audio)

Military assignments from 1966 to 1966 & Vietnam tour in 1968

Interview Session 03 (Audio)

Post-Vietnam Army career and reflections on his military service


Photos

Caption:
This photo of Joyner was taken while he attended flight school in the fall of 1964 at Ft. Rucker, Alabama. The helicopter is a Korean War era UH-19 Chickasaw.

Where:
Ft. Rucker, Alabama

When:
1964

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption:
An Army Caribou cargo aircraft is seen behind Joyner, with the mountains near Da Nang in the background. “They’re much bigger than they look,” wrote Gary in the spring of 1965 to his girlfriend at the time. Most of the pilots carried .45 caliber pistols in western style belt and holster.

Where:
Da Nang

When:
1965

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption:
“DON’T FOOL WITH ME… I’M BAD” wrote Gary on the back of this photo in the spring of 1965 while his unit was based in Da Nang. “They have pictures of all the gunship pilots on the wall in the order that they’re going home,” he continued. One of the pilots wrote I’M BAD on his photo. “Don’t you believe a word of it.”

Where:
Da Nang

When:
1965

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption:
Warrant Officer Joyner stands in front of his UH-1B Huey gunship at the unit’s base of operations in Da Nang in March/April 1965. The gunships came equipped with M-60s machineguns and rocket pods with seven rockets on each side.

Where:
Da Nang

When:
1965

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption:
Gary stands in front of a de Havilland Otter in March/April 1965. The Army used them to transport passengers around the country on a regular route every day.

Where:
Da Nang

When:
1965

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption:
Gary often trained his camera on young Vietnamese children. Note the girl in the front clutching a very American looking doll. This photo was taken at Hue. 

Where:
Hue, Vietnam

When:
March/April 1965

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption:
The April 16, 1965 issue of Life Magazine ran a lengthy story about a Marine operation that Gary assisted with. He is somewhere in the background in this photo.

Where:
Hue, Vietnam

When:
April 16, 1965

Ownership:
May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption:
After seeing this sign in 1965 at Dong Ha, South Vietnam, just south of the DMZ, Joyner could not resist having his photo taken in front of the sign.

Where:
Dong Ha, South Vietnam

When:
1965

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption:
There were always plenty of Vietnamese children around the base at the Hue citadel airfield while WO-1 Joyner was based there in 1965.

Where:
Hue, Vietnam

When:
1965

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption:
It looks like Gary is encouraging some Vietnamese children to smoke during his first tour in 1965. Army c-rations always included several cigarettes.

Where:
Hue, Vietnam

When:
1965

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption:
WO-1 Gary Joyner at the cockpit of a UH-1 helicopter during his initial tour in Vietnam in 1965. Wrote Gary, “the visor on my helmet developed a crack and I got it repaired at the Marine repair shop at Da Nang. For a while I was the only Army Aviator with a Navy visor.”

Where:
Vietnam

When:
1965

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption:
Gary sent this photo home to his girlfriend to give her an idea of his living conditions while based in Hue in 1965.

Where:
Hue, Vietnam

When:
1965

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption:
Warrant Officer-1 Sawyer and WO-1 Joyner were classmates during flight training and served together in Vietnam in 1965. “By the way, all the girls fall for him,” wrote Joyner on the back of the photo.

Where:
Hue, Vietnam

When:
1965

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption:
Joyner still was using the Navy visor when this photo was taken in 1965, while he was flying missions in the Da Nang area.

Where:
Da Nang, Vietnam

When:
1965

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption:
The Huey gunships were armed with rocket pods and four M60 machineguns attached to external pylons that allowed the guns to move/flex from input by the co-pilot/gunner. The door gunner and crew chief could also man M-60s in 1965

Where:
Vietnam

When:
1965

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption:
“This was taken when I was at the place just south of Hue,” wrote Gary in 1965, while standing next to a photo of his girlfriend at the time.

Where:
Hue, Vietnam

When:
1965

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption:
Gary Joyner and Jill Pence were married on February 8, 1969 in Dixon, Illinois, shortly after Gary returned from his second tour in Vietnam. They had met in Dixon only weeks before his second tour of duty.

Where:
Dixon, Illinois

When:
February 8, 1969

Ownership:
May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption:
Gary was awarded the Australian Army Flying Badge following completion of that nation’s Instructor Standardization Course in 1974, one of the great honors of his life. Both Jill and Gary thoroughly enjoyed their two years in Australia.

Where:
Australia

When:
1974

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo



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