John C. Sartor
Enlisted Army Aircrew

It was 1967 and just before his seventeenth birthday when John asked his parents if he could enlist in the US Army. He was told "I don't know, let me think about it".  John must have been quite persuasive in the intervening days because on his seventeenth birthday he was in the Los Angeles Recruiting Center, raising his right hand and taking the oath of enlistment in the US. Army.

He was send to Fort Ord for eight weeks of Basic training.  After completing  his Basic training his received his orders for Advance training at Fort Rucker, Alabama.  While at Fort Rucker he completed an five week coarse in fixed wing aircraft engine repair.  This was followed by a six week coarse in Turbine Helicopter rotor repair.  The award of the MOS 67N20 followed.

Everyone that completed the Advanced training at Fort Rucker received orders for Vietnam except John.  He was not eighteen yet. The requirement then was that personnel had to be at lease eighteen years old to be ordered to Vietnam.  He was then transferred to company B, 158th Aviation Battalion, 101st Airborne Division at Fort Carson Colorado. Just before his eighteenth birthday this Company was shipped out to Vietnam so John was then moved to the 238th Aerial Weapons Company at Fort Riley, Kansas.

UH-1H #15-1664Three months after turning eighteen this unit was sent to Vietnam.  After a couple of months in country he was assigned to an operational unit, the 129th Assault Helicopter Company(129th AHC) in the II Corps area just outside of the city of Qui Nhon.  The 129th AHC was the main helicopter support for the Republic of Korea's "Tiger" Division.  This involved both troop insertion and re-supply of the division's troops out in the boonies.

SP-5 John SartorWithin a month after his assignment he became a Crew Chief on a UH-1H helicopter.  As a Crew Chief John flew on UH-1H #15-1664 (picture above).  His in-flight duties required him to be proficient with the M-60 machine gun while assisting the pilots in maintaining visual clearance.  On the ground he was responsible for his helicopter's re-fueling and daily maintenance.  He also headed the maintenance team when the aircraft went in for scheduled maintenance.  John went off flying status in October 1969 and spent the remainder of his Vietnam tour serving in the company supply room room. He was returned to the States in April 1970.  With less then six months remaining on his enlistment he was discharged.

During his service John was awarded the Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal,   Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry Medal and the Vietnam Campaign Medal.  He was an Expert Marksmen with the M-16 rifle and rose to the rank of Specialist 5(E-5).

John and his wife now live in Oceanside California where owns and operates a Locksmith business plus works full time at Lake San Marcos Security.

For more information about the 129th AHC Click on one of the following links:
The 129th AHC web site and  YouTube film clip about the 129th AHC .