Freedom Fighters: Dudley Henderson - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Freedom Fighters: Dudley Henderson

(Source: KLTV) (Source: KLTV)
FLINT, TX (KLTV) -

Dudley Henderson joined the army to get a direction in his life, but when he had the chance to go to army flight school, he knew he had found a career.

"I have flown for over 35 years. I've got over 8,500 hours flying."

2,000 of those hours were combat assault hours in Vietnam, picking up wounded soldiers or bringing life-saving supplies.

"Vietnam was tough. You saved a lot of lives though. Did I ever."

While getting the wounded off the battlefield and into the hospitals in record time was crucial, helicopter crews put their lives in danger with every flight.

"Out of 58,000 people that were killed in Vietnam, 10,000 of them were flight crews, mostly helicopters," Henderson said.

With every second crucial in saving lives, Henderson landed in rice fields, flew around trees to land in forests and almost always dodged bullets in war zones.

"Think about it, you're flying around in plexiglass and tin and that doesn't stop many bullets in the day."

Henderson's bullet riddled helicopters attest to his many narrow escapes. And his two bronze stars and 34 air medals are proof of his success in saving lives.

Ironically, one of Henderson's first missions was picking up the dead.

"When we got there we found that the 173 airborne had lost an entire battalion, 500 and some odd men. They'd been laying out there for five days because they were surrounded and nobody could get to them."

There were so many bodies, the military had run out of body bags and had to use ponchos. After four bodies were put on Henderson's helicopter, he heard a flapping sound. Fearing a poncho had come loose, he turned around to look.

"There was a blonde headed, blue eyed Lieutenant looking right at me."

Henderson says he never got over that and thinks it's one reason for the post traumatic stress disorder he's experienced. He also thinks the constant bombardment by mortars aimed at his sleeping quarters is also to blame.

"Of course they always try to target the pilots quarters."

In spite of all he experienced in Vietnam, Henderson says the worst experience was on his return home at the Seattle airport.

"People literally lined up and spit at us. How do you think that made us feel? You've been over in Vietnam in a war zone getting shot at, getting killed, and you come back and your own people treat you like that."

Dudley Henderson retired in 1980, after serving 20 years in the U.S. Army. A time he looks back on with pride.

"I cannot tell you how I feel. I've been a blessed man."

Copyright 2017 KLTV. All rights reserved.

  • NewsMore>>

  • Red Zone Rundown: Joe Drennon takes over Hallsville, Bobcats buy in to win.

    Red Zone Rundown: Joe Drennon takes over Hallsville, Bobcats buy in to win.

    Tuesday, August 22 2017 11:37 PM EDT2017-08-23 03:37:34 GMT
    KLTV StaffKLTV Staff
    "I really loved wearing the orange when I wore it, but I'm awful glad to wearing purple and gold right now. Kids did a great job of being here all summer long. That in itself tells me they want to be successful," said Joe Drennon, Bobcats head football coach. It journey won't be easy. The Hallsville Bobcats are coming off a rough 2016 season where they only came out victorious twice.  "We can't control what's gone on it the past. What we got to do ...More >>
    "I really loved wearing the orange when I wore it, but I'm awful glad to wearing purple and gold right now. Kids did a great job of being here all summer long. That in itself tells me they want to be successful," said Joe Drennon, Bobcats head football coach. It journey won't be easy. The Hallsville Bobcats are coming off a rough 2016 season where they only came out victorious twice.  "We can't control what's gone on it the past. What we got to do ...More >>
  • 1 dead, 1 in custody following dispute over animals in Marion County

    1 dead, 1 in custody following dispute over animals in Marion County

    Tuesday, August 22 2017 11:33 PM EDT2017-08-23 03:33:25 GMT
    Amy Allen, left, and Amber LongAmy Allen, left, and Amber Long

    Officials say a dispute over animals between two former business partners preceded a homicide in Marion County.

    More >>

    Officials say a dispute over animals between two former business partners preceded a homicide in Marion County.

    More >>
  • Aggies working to be better toward the end of the season

    Aggies working to be better toward the end of the season

    Tuesday, August 22 2017 10:35 PM EDT2017-08-23 02:35:42 GMT
    Sumlin is trying to make sure A&M finishes strong in 2017.Sumlin is trying to make sure A&M finishes strong in 2017.

    On Monday the Associated Press released its top 25 preseason poll for college football. And for the third straight year, Texas A&M didn't make the cut. Starting fast though and moving their way up the polls in recent seasons hasn't been the problem. In fact, the Aggies, who have over a dozen East Texans on the roster, were number four in the initial playoff rankings last year.

    More >>

    On Monday the Associated Press released its top 25 preseason poll for college football. And for the third straight year, Texas A&M didn't make the cut. Starting fast though and moving their way up the polls in recent seasons hasn't been the problem. In fact, the Aggies, who have over a dozen East Texans on the roster, were number four in the initial playoff rankings last year.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly