George French had been trained as an aircraft mechanic, but when he arrived in Vietnam in 1968 he volunteered for helicopter service. French was to spend the next two years in the air as much as ten to twelve hours a day and earn 20 Air Medals with Oak Leaf Clusters before his service was over.
French's Chinook Helicopter was named "The Widow Maker" and its missions were varied and dangerous. It would fly into enemy territory to retrieve downed Hughey Helicopters, carry troops to and from combat, carry in ammunition, move fire bases, and even deliver hot dinners to troops at the front.
Casualties on the missions were frequent but "The Widow Maker" always seemed to make it back to base ... until its last mission. It was a mission that French ordinarily would have been on, but at the last minute had been taken off the flight list. All of the crew died and even today French finds it hard to talk about.