CW4 Joseph Long’s Retirement

On the 16th of November 2012, after 44 years of service, the oldest Army helicopter pilot to serve in Vietnam will be retiring at the Yakima Training Center. Chief Warrant Officer 4, Joseph M. Long Jr. will make his final flight as an Army aviator into the Parade Field at Yakima Training Center 10:00 AM in the latest type of helicopter that the Army has acquired, the UH-72, Lakota.

Joe started his military service back in 1968 and graduated from Army Rotary-Wing Pilot Training in 1969. He was transferred to Vietnam and served with the 240th Assault Helicopter Company, located at Bearcat in central III Corps and served under the call-sign of ‘Mad Dog 37’ in the Aerial Weapons Platoon. Being a ‘gunny’ pilot, Joe was to fly many combat hours in the Charlie model Huey. The one aircraft that came to be a symbol of the entire war in Southeast Asia.

After his tour of duty, Mr. Long returned to civilian life but remained in the Army as a pilot with the local Army Reserve Company located at Ft. Mead, Maryland and was eventually to become a pilot in the Army’s largest helicopter, the CH-47 ‘Chinook’. In 1995, Joe retired from the Active Reserve into the inactive holding ranks, thinking that his service was complete. That was not to happen, as in 2002; the Army recalled a number of aviators that were qualified in the UH-1 Huey, because they were still using the type in the MEDEVAC role all over the country. Even though the type had essentially been replaced with larger aircraft, the Huey still maintained a foothold in the medical transport role and pilots were difficult to train because of a shortage of training aircraft. So, the Army recalled many Vietnam-era pilots because of their intimate knowledge of the venerable old Huey and Joe was among them.

Fast-forward a number of years and we find Joe Long flying out of the Yakima Training Center and now his son, Michael is now an Army helicopter pilot, flying CH-47 Chinooks flying one of his two tours in Afghanistan with the 101stAirborne Division.

After the Army finally retired the last Huey from the Yakima Training Center in January 2011, the MEDEVAC Detachment and Joe were finally upgraded into the UH-72.