Franklin Perkins

Helicopter Mechanic;

1970 - 1971 at Cam Ranh Bay AB, RVN on the UH-1N.

1971 - 1972 at Tan Son Nhut AB, RVN with the 44th Air Base Group, on Jolly Greens - HH-3E's.


Franklin B. Perkins, Sr.

Retired USAF Technical Sergeant



As the Berlin Crisis developed in Europe during the late fifty’s and the early sixties, the United States Government determined to beef up its military defense by drafting all males in ages 18 through 24 years of age. 


At that time I was 21, and was drafted into the United States Army.  I was administered all aptitude test, and was selected to attend the Army Officer Candidate School, and Language School for German.  After considerable thought and decision it prompted me to deny enlistment into the U.S. Army, and selected the United States Air Force; 8 February 1962.


Upon completion of 3909th Basic Military Training at Lackland AFB, Texas I was assigned along with seven other Direct Duty Trainees to the 507th Air Police Squadron at Kincheloe AFB, Michigan near the Canadian Border.


Here I attained the rank of E-4; Sergeant serving in the capacity of Security Guard, Law Enforcement  and Corrections, and also a Courier abroad Log-Air Airlines, a contracted Airlines that transported Electronic Equipment  throughout  the Continental United States before being assigned to Detachment One, Eskisehir AB, Turkey in 1965.


Prior to my return back to the United States in December 1966, I requested to be retrained into that somewhat special field –“Helicopter Maintenance”.  After 60-days, my request was approved.


At this time I received orders to attend the Basic Helicopter Mechanic School at Sheppard AFB, Texas. Upon completion I was directed to attend Sikorsky’s CH-3C Field Course at Hunter AFB, Georgia and Bell’s UH-1 Field Representative Course at the United States Army – Fort Rucker, Alabama.  During my attendance I was appointed “Class Leader” for all Technical Schools attended, and awarded “Honor Graduate”.


My technical schools completions found me being assigned to Detachment 15, ARRS at Patrick AFB, FL near Cape Canaveral as a Helicopter Flight Mechanic, in direct support of the manned and unmanned space shots from the Cape.


Here at Detachment 15, ARRS at Patrick AFB, FL; I was promoted to E-5; Staff Sergeant


During my assignment from July 1966 to 1967 I was sent to National Aeronautics and Space Administration at Houston Texas to assist in the flight characteristics of the Apollo Series.


After being assigned to Detachment 15, of the ARRS for almost a year I was alerted for Southeast Asia with the 20th Special Operations Squadron at Na Trang AB, RVN, and attended the Worldwide Survival School at Fairchild AFB, Washington, upon completion, my assignment was cancelled.


June 1968 or sixty days after cancellation of my orders to SEA found me enroute to the 6593rd Test Squadron at Hickam AFB, Hawaii to become a Sikorsky CH-3B Crew Chief, in support of Edwards AFB, CA.


Two years later found me once again finally going to SEA, or Cam Ranh Bay, RVN, after completion of  Bell’s UH-1 Advanced Helicopter Technician Course at Sheppard AFB, Texas; October 1970.


A year at Cam Ranh Bay assigned to 20th SOS; I was requested by name, rank and serial number to be sent to Detachment One, 44th ARRS at Homestead AFB, FL.  One year later, I was ordered back to RVN, but this time it was for “Flightline Maintenance Supervision” for the HH-3’s “Jolly Greens” assigned to the 44th Air Base Group. 


After completion of this successful Temporary Duty, I returned back to Homestead AFB, FL in September 1972.


Orders for “Presidential One”, a unique Helicopter Squadron at Andrews AFB, Maryland, and in direct support of the United States President requested that I become part of this elite squadron.  At this notification, I was frozen for a year, until I was released by the Department of Defense because of a need of Dual-qualified Helicopter Mechanics in Central America.


October 1972, I was assigned to 24th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Howard AFB, Panama. 


A sleek UH-1N twin-engine Helicopter awaits my personal touch, assigns me to a unit with mechanics with minimum knowledge of this newly purchased aircraft.


One year before I’m to return back to the USA, I’m promoted to E-6; Technical Sergeant.


Spending 12-years in the Helicopter Field was most rewarding, more than any other endeavor attempted.  I still reminisce about the days in helicopters.


Now after my beginning with my enlistment into the U.S. Air Force, and all the friends, places and acquaintances I’ve made over the years is treasured.


Although I retired March 1983, I attained a 2-year degree from Miami-Dade Community College (Miami, FL) majoring in Aircraft Flightline Maintenance Supervision in June 1972.


Also I attended Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL; receiving a Bachelor of Science in Education (June 1982) is most rewarding.


I taught Air Force Junior Reserve Officers in Los Angeles, CA, for eleven years, and recently retired from Marion County School System (Ocala, FL) after 18 years teaching Alternative Education.


My family still reach back in time about the helicopters that their Dad would do maintenance.


I lost my wife two years ago, and the five kids that we were blessed with are all well, and in good health.


Our oldest, is retired from the California Park System.  The second oldest; my daughter is still working for Red Lobster, in food prep as a Supervisor, Our  third; a son is employed with the Las Vegas Law Enforcement Division, the third son is Retired from the U.S. Army after 22 yrs, and lastly, the last Son is Career Army in Communications.


It’s great to have been given the opportunity to express what has transpired over the years with all the ROTORHEADS…………..


I’m residing here in Central Florida (Belleview, FL. near Ocala).  If you’re in this area anytime, give me a ring.  I’m listed………


Stay Blessed