Gary Green – First Lieutenant, United States Army

E- Mail from Steve Borden: 2005

I read the posting for 1LT Gary Green and found a few inaccuracies there.  How do I contact the person who supplied the information used in the posting.

For example, the post states he lost his leg in combat in Viet Nam.  He lost his leg as a result of a motorcycle wreck in Germany in 1973, complicated by a rodeo accident in either 1973 or 1974.

His foot was hit by a .51 cal bullet in Viet Nam after which he was told he would not be able to walk, a diagnosis he proved incorrect shortly thereafter.  Gary was one of the most courageous men I have ever known, and it would be nice to insure the record is correct.  Thank you.

From a press report: 22 May 2000

It took a lot more than seven downed helicopters and losing his leg to keep Gary Green from doing what he loved.

Death was the only thing that could stop the 49-year-old Vietnam War hero from flying.

About 35 family members and close friends gathered at Arlington National Cemetery May 10, 2000 to say goodbye to a man whose “infectious” spirit inspired anyone who knew him. Fellow Vietnam veterans who served with Green painted the fun-loving Idaho native as a true warrior — a man who displayed unshakeable courage in the fiercest moments of battle.

During his two, back-to-back tours in Vietnam from 1969 to 1971, First Lieutenant Green received numerous decorations for heroism, including the Distinguished Service Cross, three Silver Stars, a Bronze Star, three Purple Hearts and 64 air medals for meritorious flight achievements.

He was shot down five times in AH-1 Cobra gun ships and twice flying OH-6 Light Observation Helicopters. The last crash cost him his right leg below the knee.

Green, who retired in 1971 and became a real estate agent, was killed April 30, 2000 when his commercial Gyrocopter crashed near his Gillette, Wyoming, home.

Family members described the accident as tragic, but agreed it was the way Green would have wanted to die.

“He always considered it a good day if he was flying,” said his sister, Melissa DuBois, recalling how excited Green had been when he purchased the tiny rotorcraft in February. “He called me on my birthday and said he had not had this much fun in forever.”

His older sister, Judy Smith, remembers worrying as soon as she heard her brother was flying the skeleton-framed helicopter, which consists of little more than a seat, an engine, a propeller and a rudder. “It was on the flying edge, that thing. I instantly hated it … but he loved it,” she said. “That was the best way he could have died, doing what he wanted to do.”

Green's love for flying was no less apparent in combat when he flew with A Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.

“Gary was one of those guys that had the most infectious smile. He looked at you and smiled and you just knew everything was OK,” said Joe Repya, who served as platoon leader for 2nd Squadron's “aero rifle platoon.”

“In the middle of a firefight, he would make a pass past you, and you would look up, and you would see him smiling at you. This guy was unbelievably cool under pressure.”

But Green also had a fierce side that came out when he took enemy fire. Repya remembered once flying out to where Green had been shot down only to find he already had returned to the base to take another chopper back out.

“He was so mad that this .51-caliber [machine gun] site had shot him down that he got another aircraft and went back out and engaged it,” he said. “Any other pilot would have said ‘Boy, I am going to the officers' club.' This guy got right back in the aircraft, and said ‘I am going back to get them,' and that is what he did.

“He was a true warrior.”

Green's former troop commander, retired Lieutenant General Teddy Allen, recalled how Green would carry around a sack of grenades in case he took enemy fire. “He would go over and hover over them … blow off the underbrush and throw grenades down on them,” he said. “There are several people that owe their lives to Gary Green.”

Green's highest decoration came February 18, 1971, after saving the lives of two helicopter crewmen on an armed reconnaissance mission over Laos. When one of the gun ships was shot down, Green landed his Cobra in the midst of heavy ground fire, ran to the downed helicopter and pulled out the two wounded soldiers. After placing them on his Cobra's rocket pods, Green opened fire at the North Vietnamese who had advanced to within 15 meters of his helicopter.

Green's commitment to his fellow soldiers while flying combat missions led to him being named a distinguished member of the 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry in 1998.

“Gary made us all better men and better people for serving with him,” said fellow pilot Bob Karig. “He was the heart and soul of our unit.”

Courtesy of the National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: DEN00LA079
Accident occurred APR-30-00 at GILLETTE, WYOMING
Aircraft: GREEN GTX-SE-FI, registration: N2411V
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On April 30, 2000, at 0827 mountain daylight time, a Green GTX-SE-FI, N2411V, was destroyed when it broke up in flight and impacted terrain about 5 miles south of Gillette, Wyoming. The airline transport certificated pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the personal flight that was being conducted under Title 14 CFR Part 91. The flight had just originated from a private airstrip.

Preliminary information indicates that within the past 30 days, the gyrocopter had received FAA airworthiness certification in the experimental category. The sheriff's office said some witnesses saw parts falling off the aircraft, then it exploded in flight, impacted terrain, and burned.

Read our general and most popular articles

Leave a Comment