Bud was asked to select his preferences for where he wanted to carry out his term of service. For his domestic choice, he selected Hawaii. For his foreign choice, he selected Vietnam.
“I wanted to go to war,” he says. “I wanted to experience that. I didn’t want to get sent to Germany. I was looking for excitement. Since I volunteered, naturally they would take me.”
Bud returned home and married his girlfriend at the age of nineteen, before he was sent to Vietnam.
“I didn’t want her to leave me,” he says with a chuckle, “so I decided to marry her.”
Bud was assigned to a helicopter unit, the B Troop 7/17 Air Cavalry unit. He was initially assigned to the mail room. The presiding commander looked at Bud’s personal record, saw he was a decent soldier, and wanted him to chauffeur the colonel around the base and work in the office.
Bud was eager for excitement though. He didn’t want to be a colonel’s orderly. He approached the captain to ask for a change of scenery.
“I said to him, ‘I really came over here to fight a war.’ And he looked at me and said, ‘We have these jobs called aero scouts. But you can’t be assigned as one, you have to volunteer.’ I didn’t know what an aero scout was, but I volunteered.
“I soon found out why you had to volunteer; your likelihood of surviving the duration of the war in this position was slim. Aero scouts flew a helicopter called a L-O-H, a light observation helicopter, which can fly slow and low to the ground. Only two people could fit in one, a pilot and a co-pilot observer.
“I was trained as a pilot too, in case the pilot was shot. Our job was to fly at treetop level and try to find the enemy. Flying at that height, you could usually see the smoke from their campfire cooking, or different things they left behind. We flew in teams of two, one helicopter at treetop, and the other higher up for protection— then we’d switch.
“If we found them, we’d radio in the information and within minutes, a COBRA, a giant gun ship that is very fast and cannot fly low, would come in and annihilate the area. We were called the hunter-killer team. We acted as the scalp hunters, and the COBRAs were called the undertakers. This was the only way to find the enemy, because there is so much canopy in that country, they were very well hidden.