TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Joe Hively joined the U.S. Air Force in November of 1966. Right in the middle of the Vietnam War. At first, Hively was sent to technical school for B-52 bombers.
"When I first seen the B-52, for an old country boy standing, it was awesome," says Hively.
But Hively was to have an even more awesome experience as the first crew chief of the biggest military aircraft in the world, the C5.
"I was a young airman at the time and they asked me if I would like to go on VIP missions," says Hively.
Hively's first VIP mission is still one of his favorites.
"We flew into Hickham in Hawaii and we picked up John S. McCann, that's Senator McCain's dad," says Hively.
Although there were all sorts of heavy brass on Lively's VIP Flight, he remembers Admiral McCain the best.
"We flew into Saigon the first day, but when we went back in to pick up McCain, they were starting to have bad weather," says Hively.
Heavy rains had flooded the rice paddies in Vietnam and Hively could only imagine how it was for the soldiers below.
"I felt sorry for the ones that had to stay behind and fight the war because they fought in horrific conditions," says Hively.
The Vietnam War was to last sixteen years. Even though Hively knew he was lucky to only fly in and out of the country, the loss of a cousin and several friends in the heavy fighting, made him realize the devastation of the conflict.
"Some didn't make it home, over 58,000 died in Vietnam you know," says Hively.
Lively was honorably discharged from the Air Corps in 1970, after found years of service. having met his wife, a native Texan, during training, Hively decided to make Texas their home.
"Her name is Rosemary," says Hively of his wife.
Because of ill health, Joe Hively is thankful for both his time in the Air Force and their care of him afterward. He now makes Watkins-Logan State Veterans Home his home.
"Right here in this complex here we have so many veterans that need constant care and with thanks they are finally getting it," says Hively.
Joe Hively is thankful for both his days serving in the Air Force and their care of him afterward.
"I feel very honored. When I took that oath...still here today," says Hively.