When John and Sandy Hosey’s old hot tub bit the dust, they purchased a new hot tub at Rich’s. While John and Sandy were deciding which model to buy, they shared bits and pieces of their life with sales consultant, Philip Buchanan (pictured, far right).
Turns out John (aka, J.D.) is a decorated veteran of two wars. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for “heroism while participating in aerial flight” during the Vietnam War and The Silver Star for “gallantry in action.” J.D. was also awarded the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and numerous air medals.
When he joined the army in 1951, John was barely 16. In his memoir about his military career, he writes:
I hadn’t given my future much thought. One thing I did know for sure was that I did not want to spend the rest of my life in my [Mississippi] hometown… One day, while I was walking home from my job at the local ice cream shop, I saw a poster inside a window. It showed a marine standing proud and above was the caption, “Be the best, be a marine.”
The recruiter gave J.D. an application, but J.D.’s dad told him that he would not give him permission to join the marines at age 16. But J.D. was determined. Days later, he spotted another poster. This one depicted smiling paratroopers floating down from the sky, and the caption read, “All the way.”
“What have I got to lose?” J.D. thought. He marched into the recruiting office and announced, “I want to be a paratrooper.”
And he did. After graduating from paratrooper training, J.D. was assigned to the 187th Airborne regimental combat team in Korea. On his bus trip from Mississippi to Seattle (where he was scheduled to sail for Korea), J.D. met a “tall, slim young woman with a figure that would knock your eyes out.” Within three weeks, J.D. had “fallen hard” in love with Sandy. The night before he shipped out, he proposed, and she agreed to wait for him to return from war.
After the Korean War, Sandy and J.D. married, and J.D. joined the Washington National Guard, graduated from Officer Candidate School, and decided to make a career of military service. He entered the pilot training program and after a year of “grueling training and studying,” graduated as a fixed wing pilot. Later, he learned to pilot helicopters and was assigned to a helicopter unit in Vietnam.
In his memoir, J.D. describes a mission in which he was to fly in and rescue a platoon of nine soldiers who’d been ambushed. He writes:
“There had already been a medivac helicopter shot down trying to get them out… we notified the wounded on the ground that we were coming in. They were to be ready for pick up as fast as possible, as I would be landing almost on top of them… everyone began helping each other pile on. The enemy threw everything they had as us. The rounds sounded like popcorn going off in the cockpit of the chopper. We were like sitting ducks… We took off and the helicopter lagged, swaying with its heavy load. Suddenly, the rotor R.P.M.s dropped off. A lot of the instrument panel had been shot out… I eased off [the controls] and suddenly, we were gaining speed and altitude, picking up leaves from the tea trees along the route. My copilot had been shot through both of his thighs. I had been hit in the right leg. The helicopter had taken many rounds (later, I learned the chopper had a hundred and eighty seven holes)… When at last we landed I had a lump in my throat that all but choked the breath out of me. I just sat and let the tears come. I was not alone. There was not a man on board that hadn’t felt the same cold terror.”
Retired from the military since 1982, J.D. reflects on his service to his country:
“I have been influenced by many wonderful men. Hopefully I have influenced many. I feel I have been a good officer and a damn good soldier.”
When he asks himself if it was all worth it – whether he’d do it all over again to preserve his country, his family, and his beliefs, J.D. answers, “You’d better believe I would!”