Calvin Kam oral history interview



Calvin Kam oral history interview


Born-digital video recording of an oral history with Calvin H. Kam and interviewer Ted Lehberger, recorded as part of The Museum of Flight Oral History Program, April 29, 2018.


Vietnam War veteran Calvin H. Kam is interviewed about his military service as a helicopter pilot with the United States Army. He discusses his wartime experiences flying the Bell UH-1 Huey with the 240th Assault Helicopter Company and his postwar service with the Washington State National Guard Helicopter Division. He also touches on his later teaching career in Washington State. Topics discussed include his training and service history, his time stationed at Fire Base Bearcat (Vietnam), his other assignments with the Army and Washington State National Guard, and his career in public education.

Table Of Contents

Introduction and personal background -- High school and college years -- Joining the U.S. Army -- Helicopter training -- Deployment to Vietnam -- Assignment to Fire Base Bearcat and explanation of fire bases -- Helicopter mission logistics -- Mission to investigate a downed Loach -- Return to the United States -- Thoughts on teaching methods -- Leaving the Army and service with the Washington State National Guard -- Teaching career in Western Washington -- Involvement with The Museum of Flight




1 recording (1 hr., 2 min., 27 sec.) : digital



Bibliographic Citation

The Museum of Flight Oral History Collection/The Museum of Flight





Biographical Text

Calvin H. Kam is a Vietnam War veteran who served as a helicopter pilot with the United States Army. He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, circa 1946. His father, Yun Yau Kam, was a supply officer who served with the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II and with the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War.

From a young age, Kam was inspired by his father’s military service to pursue a military career of his own. He served in JROTC (Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps) at McKinley High School (Honolulu, Hawaii) and ROTC at Eastern Washington University (Cheney, Wash.). While in college, he majored in biology and earned his teaching degree. He also participated in the ROTC flight program, where he learned to fly fixed-wing aircraft.

After receiving his commission in 1969, Kam attended Artillery School at Fort Sill (Oklahoma), then was assigned to helicopter flight training. He completed primary training at Fort Wolters (Texas) and advance training at Hunter Army Airfield (Georgia). Deployed to Vietnam in 1970, Kam served as a pilot with the 240th Assault Helicopter Company, stationed at Fire Base Bearcat. His missions involved flying the Bell UH-1 Huey for troop insertion and extraction from landing zones. At the conclusion of his tour, he had logged a total of 507 combat hours.

Kam returned to the United States in 1971 and was assigned to Fort Rucker (Alabama) as a teacher for ground school instructors. He was honorably discharged in 1973 at the rank of captain. Relocating to Spokane, Washington, he began his career as a public school teacher and joined the Washington Army National Guard Helicopter Division, which he served with for eight years. Afterwards, he moved to Western Washington and worked as a school administrator in Kent and as Human Resources Director for Northshore School District. Following his retirement from public education in 2001, he joined the Education Department at City University. As of 2018, he is an active member of The Museum of Flight’s Docent Corps.

Biographical information derived from interview and additional information provided by interviewee.