Voices of Veterans - Henry Hill

By: Andy Conner Email
By: Andy Conner Email

A native of Cameron, Texas, Henry Hill graduated from Texas A&M, class of 1956. He enlisted in the Air Force and began active duty that same year.

"While I was in school, one of my teammates bought the farm in an A-26 and so I volunteered and they said, 'No, no, you're going to be an instructor pilot in Big Spring, Texas.' and so I went there and then, after that tour, is when volunteered to go, again, volunteered to go Vietnam..."

After being selected as a pilot for the A-37 in Vietnam, Henry Hill delivered military supplies, and ammunition to Ben-wa Air Force Base in South Vietnam.

"It was a tremendous airplane for close air support. Accuracy was great...we could carry a 750-lb bomb, we could carry a 500-lb. bomb, we could carry napalm, rockets and we had a gun in the nose that fired...6,000 rounds a minute and but we didn't have that much of a need for the gun, mostly we were delivering ordnance and close air support for troops."

Once he started flying missions in Vietnam, Hill had a few close calls. One mission , he remembers, got particularly scary...

"There was two of us, two planes and we had been directed along the canal, and I was going in, they wasked for napalm, and whenever I tickled off the ordinance, the airplane went to the left...so I called the other aircraft and he checked me out and said, 'yep, you've got fuel,' and I shut that one down and with one engine, climbed up, and I was only about 50 miles from the airbase, and I went to that airbase and landed....30 caliber bullet that, just...tore through the main fuel line and the root of the left wing and you don't think of a .30 caliber from being much of an impact, but it took that airplane from straight and level, going along at 350 mph, and turned it almost upside down...one of those missions where you don't expect anything, but it happened."

After Vietnam, Hill went to Waco as the ROTC Instructor at Baylor, and in 1981, came back to College Station as the head of the Air Force ROTC program at A&M.

He carries on his years of instructing today, and now teaches personal finance at Blinn.

And with over 28 years of military service, and several of those in combat, Henry Hill still finds a way to keep the faith.

"I always consider it fortunate because the good lord takes care of those that he wants to and whenever I took that hit, it would have been so easy just to pull and I would have gone into the mud...but to me, I consider it, the good Lord brought me home."

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