Vietnam Veteran


Old Vietnam Veteran allies get together on the long ride home Thailand.

On most of my training rides in the Suphunburi district I’ve always taken time out to have a brew and chat with my good mate American Vietnam veteran helicopter pilot Warrant Officer Class 2 (retired) Barrie Turner who I’ve known for about 5 years.

I ride past his house occasionally and understand why he lives where he lives in a small farming region that very much resembles the AShau Valley where he flew many a combat mission during his time in Vietnam many years ago.

Just turning 80 years young, Barrie, originally a smoke jumper fighting fires in 1959 served later in Korea in a peacetime role, went onto airborne training to serve in the 101st Airborne Brigade. He later undertook flight school to become a helicopter pilot to eventually serve as a combat pilot in Vietnam in 1965 at An Khe (based in Pleiku) in the central highlands of Vietnam.

With over 450 combat missions and the bronze star to his credit Barrie was involved in the famous battle at the Ia Drang Valley. Wikipedia - The Battle of Ia Drang was the first major battle between the United States Army and the North Vietnamese Army-NVA (People's Army of Vietnam-PAVN), part of the Pleiku Campaign conducted early in the Vietnam War.

For those that have read the book or seen the movie “We Were Soldiers“ with actor Mel Gibson playing the role of Lt Col Hal Moore, Barrie was one of the pilots that flew missions into the battle zone evacuating wounded and dead American soldiers back to Pleiku.

See link Wikipedia - The Battle at La Drang Valley

See link Wikipedia - Lt Col Hal Moore.

Pleiku lays close to 1,000 kms to the East of where we both recently chatted and we have been discussing over a few years, a return trip to where he was based. I’m honoured he has extended an invitation for me to join him.

I’ve also ridden past the area where he was based at An Khe and up the AShau Valley on route to Khe Sahn where he flew missions but continued north over the 17 parallel along the Ho Chi Minh Highway and part of the Ho Chi Minh trail onto Dien Bien Phu many times.

Good on ya Barrie, keep on keeping on mate!!!

Truck Sams, on The Long Ride Home, in the province of Kanchanaburi and Suphunburi