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Heavener Ledger
Heavener, Oklahoma
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July 5, 2012
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Thursday, July 5, 2012 Heavener Ledg00er Page 5 Flying The Brass By John Inman Heavenerite once responsible for the flight of U.S. Presidents in a helicopter. What do Presidents Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and George W. Bush, before he was even elected President, all have in common? They all few in a helicop- ter with Heavener High School grad - Paul S. Johnston. That's because he piloted at one time Ma- rine One and was assigned to transport the Presidents. "If I had to pick a most memorable event it would have to be when The Presi- dent of Egypt, Anwar Sadat, was assassinated in Oct. of 1981. Presidernt Reagan could not attend the funeral but sent as rep- resentatives former Presi- dents Nixon, Ford, Carter and then Vice President Bush. At Andrews Air Force Base just outside Washington, D.C. the Air Force timed the separate arrivals of Nixon, Ford and Carter to coincide. "The helicopter was po- sitioned so all three aircraft taxied up and stopped at the same time. Marine One has a designated seat for the President and with the former Presidents aboard, it was a protocol issue as to where everyone would sit. "Fortunately, Mrs. Carter was the only wife who at- tended, so we gave her the "Presidential" seat. I then flew them to the White House where they met with President Reagan. Upon the conclusion of meeting, I flew them, plus Vice President Bush, back to Andrews AFB where they ooarded Air Force One for the flight to Egypt. I assume it is the only time that three former Presidents and one future President were all on the same helicopter." said Johnston, who once was in charge of the Presidential Helicopter Squadron, in which he was responsible for world-wide helicopter transportation of the Presi- dent, his staff, visiting Heads of State and rank- ing cabinet members and government officials. He managed an annual budget in excess of $7 mil- lion with assets of worth over $200 million and op- erated and maintained 38 aircraft with a staff of over 450 people. Paul grew up in Heav- ener (Class of'57), the son of Lem and Bucky, owners of a shoe repair shop in Heavener, and he was no different from most boys. His hobbies were sports, hunting and fishing then and some of his friends were Jim Monk, Ronald Standridge, Gilbert Scrivner and Carious Naytor. His hobbies are now fishing, traveling and duplicate bridge. While attending Okla- homa State University and majoring in Forestry, he worked in the OSU athletic department for another Heavener grad, Byron Bird, who had an impact on his life. Bird had been in the Marine Corps during WWII losing a leg during combat, Bird still promoted the motto of"Semper Fi" to Johnston and persuaded him to apply for flight train- ing. Johnston eventually be- came a tactical combat aviator with over 6,000 flight hours in a variety of aircraft and subsequently landed the dream job of transporting the Presidents. While Johnston may not have considered the task at hand a "dream job", he did admit, "I felt very honored to have the job, but I en- joyed all the jobs the Ma- fine Corps gave me. It was a fun career." "You are just an airborne taxi cab driver and should never forget it. (Your) job was to provide transporta- tion from point Ato point B as safely and quickly as possible. "With that being said, there were some very nice experiences. If President Nixon, Ford, Carter or Reagan were not traveling (staying in Washington, D.C.), the weekends would normally be spent at Camp David. Most nights both President Carter and Presi- dent Reagan invited the head of the Secret Service detail, his doctor, an aide, and the helicopter pilot to their house at Camp David to watch a movie. The movies were all pre-re- leases (had not been shown/released to the the- aters yet), so there was sometimes a post discus- sion concerning the film. Those evenings were a nice experience foi" a kid from Heavener." When asked if he had much interaction with the Presidents or if they seemed the "nice guys", Johnston said, "I never had a bad experience with any of the Presidents. I saw quite a bit of both President Carter (one year) and President Reagan (two and a half years). Both (of them) were very consider- ate and nice to their staff. "President Reagan had the ability to put you at ease when you were around him and always seemed to channel the conversation to topics everyone could par- ticipate in. He really had a great sense of humor that a Heavener kid could relate to." When a President goes on an overseas trip and the transportation requires he- licopters, HMX-1 will send assets. "I flew require- ments in Mexico, Brazil, Korea, Japan, France, Ger- many, Italy, Belgium, Canada, and The United Kingdom." Johnston added. Another story about President Reagan, Johnston said, "On a trip to France we were flying from Paris back to the air- port and he asked me to make a circle around the Eiffel Tower. I called the French air controller and requested permission. I was told that it was a re- stricted area and the re- quest was denied. I said thank you and I would re- lay that to my passenger. "Another voice came over the radio and said it was now approved and we could go anywhere we de- sired. We circled the Eiffel tower." Johnston was discharged from the Marine Corps and retired in October of 1991 but went to work for McDonnell Douglas the next day doing international sales. He retired from McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) in 2006. Johnston met his wife Lynn, a gradu- ate of the University of Texas, in 1969 when he was reassigned to Southern California where she was teaching. Lynn is currently teach- ing a 4 th, 5 th and 6 th grade combination class of about 30 non-English speaking students, mostly Korean, Japanese and Chinese. "I have been trying for about five years to get her to retire. I guess she be- lieves it is less stressful to spend a day with 30 stu- dentsrather than stay at home with me," Johnston laughed. How many remember the year of Heavener High School's walk-out? Probably several will never forget it, but Karen (Anderson) Steed remembers it well. It happened in 1962 on a Monday moming, after the Wolves had beaten LeFlore County Rival Poteau Friday night by a convincing 30-0 score. But she wasn't alone. "We went to a cabir on Sugar Loaf Mountain that we were told the owner had let tas use," remembers Steed. "It was not instigated by me, but involved sophomores, juniors and seniors. Others I remember being present were Bud Westmorland, Butch Gilstrap, Mike Vickers, Julie Ann Hogaboom, Sylvia Sonagerra, Ray Gaskin, Jerrel Muck and I think Gayle Wilson. Steed Recalls Year Of Great Heavener Walk-Out By John Inman "Janie Bowen even took her grandmother's truck (bet she got into deep -- --!). I just remember Janie's truck, because I rode with her. It was a fun day - we felt like rebels! Our punishment was to take 10 per cent off of our grades as I recall and many of our parents objected to that. Although the school was going to take 10 per cent off of all our grades as punishment I don't think he (Principal Frank Hogan) did. "I can remember the anticipation of walking out when the bell rang to go to class. Maybe that is why I have had to fight all my rebellious feelings all these years! As it tumed out we broke in from the back and spent the day there. We sent Julie Ann, Mike and Bud to Fort Smith with the little money we could pool to get us food, which was sandwiches, chips, and pop. Steed said a friend of Muck had let them borrow the cabin but later leard that he had broken out the back window. "There were others from our class, but I can't remember who I think there were about 30 of us. Jim (Hall), Tim (Livesay), and Garry (Ritzkey) may have been there." From there, Steed's memory becomes sketchy. "Someone called and told either a parent or the school where we were (Sugar Loaf), so some of the parents showed up about noon asking us to come back to class," she explained. "As I recall, the vast majority of us didn't go - thus we got into trouble. Although I don't remember it, I was accused by adults of having given the 'chicken' speech about going back. I don't really think I did, I think it was Butch (Gilstrap). We were celebrating our football win over Poteau. "I just remember how rebellious and proud we were of our accomplishment! As an aside, later that week, Miss Decker came up to me I in typing class and told me in front of the class that she couldn't believe that of all the kids, that I would be one to have done such a thing ...she obviously didn't know me very well!! "Seems like we were back by the time school was out." One other side note to her memories. Cynthia Inman said her brother Larry Wisdom did not participate because he feared it would ruin his perfect attendance mark in school. Larry had 12 years of perfect attendance, she said. "I don't know if he was afraid of mother, or what," Cynthia added. "He was proud of that record, but think he was afraid of what Eliose might do." Steed will be with the Class of 1965 at this weekend's HHS Reunion. Her class plans to meet at Sherry Copeland's house. (Another side note: The Wolves were coached by Ray Hall, his first year after replacing Bob Collins. This story will also be reprinted in my upcoming book, scheduled to come out next year.) THE "WOLF" :t/, i KP's Quick Mart WE HAVE CONVENIENT DRIVE THROUGH SERVICE " Welcome Alumni 2012 Weh:ome Back Cards ;E O" SE00I ALU00I Green's Prescription Center Come see us at our new location! [le're at ,ol 1. venue D &cross from the Deer Pen HEAVENER, OKLAHOMA de of HeaveBer High School /q/,,--e Etc. Heavener- 653-7770