Stephen Greene was born in 1946 and grew up in Hastings on Hudson, New York. His father, who was in the Army during WWII, met his wife while moving German and Italian POWs to camps in the south. By the time Stephen graduated from high school in 1964, the family was living in Richmond, California. Shortly after graduation, Stephen was drafted and his father took him to the recruiter, where he selected aviation. After training at Ft. Wolters, Texas and Ft. Rucker, Alabama, he deployed to Vietnam, where he joined the Casper Platoon (aviation) in the 173rd Airborne Brigade. While in Vietnam, he flew a variety of different missions including medevac, command and control, logistics resupply, aero scout, “people sniffer,” combat assault, and artillery spotter. He recalls the terror of flying through an “Arc Light” B-52 strike, as well as the joy of flying medevac missions because everyone was happy to be on the aircraft. He did not like missions to recover the dead. He describes his most challenging mission, during which his crew dropped chain saws to a unit on the ground so they could create a landing zone. During his tour, he was wounded twice, and after being evacuated to the states, he requested to rejoin his unit in Vietnam.
In this interview, he shares detailed descriptions of several types of missions he flew, along with specific recollections of incidents in Vietnam. He reflects on the punishment the Hueys could take, both from enemy action and the 19- and 20-year-old pilots pushing them to their limits. Sometimes they flew so low that the helicopters were grass-stained from the elephant grass and the palm trees. He briefly discusses his post-war flying career. He ends by reflecting on the importance of unit reunions and what his service means to him.