The Pilot: Scott Roberts
Profilers: Alex Man, Jake Rogers, David Schall, Pansy Tran
Name: Howard Stowe Roberts (Scott Roberts)
Date of Birth: March 19, 1939
Birthplace: Pensacola, Florida
What branch of military service did you serve in, what was your rank, and where were you stationed?
United States Marine Corp and I was finished up after Vietnam instructing in command, I finished it up in Pensacola was a flight instructor and I was in numerous bases like North Carolina, Camp Pendleton, El Toro, and overseas Vietnam on various different ships.
How did you get involved in the Vietnam War?
I volunteered, I finished college and I was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corp and I went to basic infantry school up in Quantico, Virginia followed by flight school in Pensacola, Florida and after which I was stationed with a helicopter squadron (in New River, North Carolina). We went to the Dominican Republic to respond to some sort of a rebellion that was taking place in 1965 and thereafter I went to Okinawa and ultimately to Vietnam.
You said you were a part of a military family. Did that influence you at all in joining the military?
Oh sure. It’s like you see these actors, their fathers and mothers.
Arriving in Vietnam
What was your specific role/assignment during the war in Vietnam?
I was a pilot, primarily I was flying helicopters and we would insert troops. We would afterwards resupply them and medevac them.
What does the purple fox stand for?
That was the squadron I was in, in Vietnam. HMM 364 which stands for Helicopter Median Marine.
Do you remember arriving in Vietnam and what it was like for the first time?
It was just Da Nang, it was a sandy beach. We started flying with some people that have already been there to get us oriented to what we were going to be going through. After which the squadrons because we all came over at once, it was a big buildup (1965) and the squadrons were all mixed up and scrambled. The personnel were put in all different squadrons in order not to have everybody leave at once. It would deplete the squadrons of personnel.
Can you walk us through what a typical day would look like? From the time you wake up to the time you go to bed and the living situations?
There would be fragmentation orders that would come down. The Marine Corp is set up around the infantry including the air wings. We would report to the ready room and receive the fragmentation orders and go do what we had to do. If there was a big operation taking place, it was a lot more intense and a lot busier than normal. So if we got a call of a large operation or if someone was wounded or killed, we would fly out, pick them up and resupply them.
How far would you go out for a typical assignment?
It depends, it’s restricted to the range of the aircraft. But it was normally somewhere around the vicinity in which you were based. I was based in a number of places.
What would you say was your scariest moment that you experienced while you were in Vietnam?
It probably would have to have been the first strike that I went on. I was new and we were carrying a hundred first airborne troops. We orbited out over the water off of a town called Qui Nhon where we were based. We were orbiting out over the water while the air force softened up the area that was heavy concentration of enemy troops. We held over the water until the preparation, artillery, and bombardment from the aircraft were completed and then we were called in to insert our troops. At which point, we went into the zone and there was heavy fire. I never seen tracers fired and they were everywhere. We couldn’t tell if they were coming or going. We had 7 wounded and 1 killed. I figured I wouldn’t make it out of there alive, but it wasn’t that bad.
Coming Back Home
I have more doubts about the war now then I did then, I was told what to do and then I did it. We were very confused. We didn’t lose any battles in that war. The battles we lost were in this country with our people. They got tired of it and the draft was on, people were getting killed and families don’t like that. So in retrospect I look back on it and I say nobody was invading us, it wasn’t in defense of the homeland, certainly, as is not the case in Afghanistan and Iraq right now. We are not being invaded so what is the use? It’s an honorable profession and you do serve honorably most certainly of those in Marine Corps and different bases and military services. Because of the present administration that is in power right now I would not advise anybody to join up.
Why would you say that?
Because the particular party that is in power right now is not military friendly. We have cut back considerably in just about everything. The military, is extremely weak, Navy, Marine Corp. and Air Force.
Any last thoughts you would like to express?
Again. I will never forget it. I have friends that I am in constant contact with to this day. I am proud of the service, particularly of the Marine Corps, and that’s about it.
Are you a part of any Veterans associations right now?
I tend to not participate in those. They have them bi-annually, but they are all the same thing. I am not a good joiner in just repetitive things. They have to be something new for me to appreciate it.