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Saving the Green Berets

The Green Berets are a special operations task force known for executing covert missions under dire circumstances, but even they need a little help sometimes. Enter Jerry Coy, USAF pilot, who ended up saving a group of them during the Vietnam War.


Jerry Coy, who was featured in our episode about the 747, isn’t just an experienced commercial airline pilot—he’s also a military veteran, and his experiences during Vietnam warrant their very own episode. Coy tells us about the time his pilot duties took him outside his usual routine and placed him in charge of a complicated rescue mission. One night Coy gets a call from a staff sergeant to support an operation by the Green Berets. “I always carry a bag of hand grenades in my plane,” says Coy, and explains that the staff sergeant instructed him to fly over a particular location to break the Green Beret’s contact with the Northern Vietnamese Army. After he was almost shot down by an NVA mortar, Coy directed the Green Berets to head east as he continued throwing grenades from his cockpit.  Eventually, the Green Berets reached a secure location where they met with the USAF Green Hornet helicopters that lifted them out of the conflict zone. The Green Berets were so grateful for Coy’s assistance, they nominated him for the Silver Star.

Want to hear more great stories from pilots? Check out our Digital Archives Oral Histories, which are made possible through the generous support of Michael and Mary Kay Hallman.


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