College Station Man a Former Marine One Pilot

By: Ashlea Sigman Email
By: Ashlea Sigman Email

The man Marine One carries, has changed over the years, but the feeling of honor among those who work for the President, hasn't.

For four years in the 1960's, Major Early Spiars piloted Marine One, the presidential helicopter, for Lyndon B. Johnson.

"The most I can say about it, it was interesting 'cause you never knew what was gonna happen, never knew where you were gonna go," said Spiars.

Growing up, Spiars would have never guessed he'd one day fly the president. The Mississippi native studied music for two years at a college in Louisiana.

"And I realized that I had no talent for music, and I just said 'I quit.' I went home to Mississippi in 1954 and there were no jobs to be had," said Spiars.

Spiars' father convinced him to join the military, and 20 months later, he was a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. At age 30, he was picked to fly the president. It was a career that took him all over the world, and frequently to the capitol.

"Every time we picked up the president at the White House and the weather was bad, we couldn't see the monument, so we would have to fly out on a heading and hope we didn't crash into it," said Spiars.

The crew took great lengths to make sure President Johnson received a soft landing.

"Lyndon Johnson wasn't an easy guy to get along with. If he did something wrong and he didn't like it, you heard about it in no uncertain terms, and this guy was 6'4" and had a mouth about the size of a tour at Disneyland and you really didn't want him talking to you in a nasty way, ya know," said Spiars.

Spiars service with the president kept him out of Vietnam a second time, and provided memories that will last a lifetime, and memories not many people have.

"I was proud to know that I was good enough to do that," said Spiars.

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