Army Aviation

Interview with Vietnam War Aviator

1601 lb seneff 38Interview with Lieutenant General George P. Seneff, Commander of the 1st Aviation Brigade during the Vietnam War and Director of Army Aviation on the Department of the Army Staff.  Interview was conducted by Lieutenant Colonel Ronald K. Andreson, Spring 1978, Army War College Program on the History of Army Aviation. Below is a snippet of the exchange.

LTC Andreson:  “Sir, in 1956, which was about the time I believe you became a rated aviator, an extensive test of aerial gunnery in Army helicopters was ongoing at Fort Rucker under the direction of General Hutton, who was then Commandant of the Aviation School, and a Colonel Vanderpool of the CDC Aviation Agency who, in fact, was not an aviator.  Do you recall these tests and, if so, how important were they to the future of the armed helicopter?

General Seneff:  “I recall them very well because I was intimately involved in them myself.  I was supporting the thing from a staff point of view from the pentagon.  I think they meant a great deal to the future of it, really.  Jay Vanderpool was a very enthusiastic guy and a very far-sighted guy, and he accomplished minor miracles . . . it was strictly a black shop operation, getting existing guns and welding them to frames that were then welded on to the choppers.  He scrounged high rate of fire machine guns from the Air Force . . . and from the Navy got rocket tubes. . .   It was strictly a scrounge operation done on a minimal budget.

“But it demonstrated the potential sufficiently that we were then able to get some R&D funding to start development of some various rudimentary weapons systems that we fortunately had far enough along to use in Vietnam, like the XM-6 machine gun system, and earlier rocket systems, and so on.  I don’t think they ever would have had them had it not been for Vanderpool.  Now I’ll state here that we tried to get Vanderpool rated many times, and were blocked by senior Army aviators who were too damn stupid to see what he had done for the Army.”