Brian Chase received his draft notice while he was
still in high school. He joined the Navy Reserves’ 120-
day delay program, but in December of
1966 he entered the Navy. Following
boot camp, helicopter gunner school,
and survivor training, he was deployed to
Vietnam in 1967 where he served for
Chase was a door gunner with the
Navy Seawolves, a job he describes as
“unique and difficult.” His Helicopter
Attack (Light) Squadron 3 flew 24-on,
24-off day after day in support of PVR
boats in the small canals of the Vinh Long
Province, Mekong Delta. They inserted
and extracted Navy Seals. Sometimes they
could land, but sometimes they could
only hover. The Seawolves flew at night
when no one else could fly.
Chase returned home on Election Day, Nov. 5, 1968.
That day is still fresh in his mind.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Chase says.
“I went from Travis Air Force Base to San Francisco.
People were waiting at the airport. I got called baby
killer and was spit at. It was a tumultuous time.”
Even when Chase arrived home in Maine, people
showed very little respect.
“I don’t think even the Navy knew what to do with
Vietnam veterans coming back,” Chase says. “There
were absolutely no post courses, no training, nothing
about what we should expect.”
Chase agrees that people today have more respect for
the military and are saying “thank you.” He believes
they have a better recognition for Vietnam veterans now,
but nothing like for the current military.
“They don’t realize what we went through,” Chase says.
“Vietnam vets are just like any other human being. Show
us respect, treat us like you want to be treated.”
Chase went to school on the GI Bill and led an interest-ing
and varied civilian life — his final job before retire-ment,
which brought him to North Carolina, was for
NASCAR at Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
Today, he spends his spare time volunteering at the
Battleship North Carolina, where he supervises the deck
washing and helps with school groups. As a certified
docent, he also leads weekend tours.
“I haven’t met anyone yet who said anything bad about
Vietnam veterans,” Chase says of his time volunteering on
Brian Chase at home after finishing
basic training; ready for a work
party in March 1967; at his first
duty station, Helicopter Support
Squadron 10 in Imperial Beach,
California; in his yearbook photo
from York High School in Maine in
1966; and at the Battleship North
PHOTO BY ALLISON POTTER HISTORIC PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRIAN CHASE
WBM november 2017