James H. Platt oral history interview
Vietnam War veteran James H. Platt is interviewed about his decade-spanning career with the United States Air Force. He discusses his training and experiences as a military pilot, including his wartime service in Southeast Asia piloting Sikorsky HH-3E helicopters, known as Jolly Green Giants, during air rescue missions. He also describes other notable assignments from his career, such as his support flights at the Eastern Test Range (Florida), his time as a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress commander, and his work at Strategic Air Command (SAC). The interview concludes with a brief overview of Platt’s post-military career with Boeing and his docent work at The Museum of Flight.
Table Of Contents
James H. Platt is a Vietnam War veteran who served with the United States Air Force from the 1960s to the early 1990s. He was born on February 4, 1942 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. His family eventually relocated to Portland, Oregon, where he attended Central Catholic High School and the University of Portland.
While in college, Platt participated in the school’s ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) program and was selected for the Flight Indoctrination Program. He completed fixed-wing flight training at Randolph Air Force Base (Texas) and helicopter training at Stead Air Force Base (Nevada). From 1966 to 1967, he served at Patrick Air Force Base (Florida) as a Sikorsky CH-3 pilot, flying support missions for the Eastern Test Range. Afterwards, he was deployed to Thailand to serve as commander of an Air Rescue team. During his combat tour in Southeast Asia, Platt flew 98 combat missions in the Sikorsky HH-3E Jolly Green Giant.
On his return to the United States, Platt resumed flying support missions for the Eastern Test Range out of Patrick Air Force Base. He then transitioned from helicopters back to fixed-wing aircraft, flying the Northrop T-38 Talon and Lockheed C-141 Starlifter. Shortly after the Christmas Day Bombing in 1972, Platt was transferred from Travis Air Force Base to Castle Air Force Base (California) to undergo training in the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress. He subsequently served as an aircraft commander in Guam.
Platt’s next assignments included serving as Chief of Battle Staff Display at Eighth Air Force Headquarters and SAC (Strategic Air Command) Headquarters, serving as watch officer at EUCOM (United States European Command), and serving as airfield manager at Grand Forks Air Force Base (North Dakota). He also flew the North American T-39 Sabreliner. He retired from the Air Force in 1993 at the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Following his retirement from the military, Platt earned a master’s degree in aviation business administration from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He was then hired by Boeing and worked in airplane certification. He retired from the company after a ten-year career. As of 2018, Platt was an active member of The Museum of Flight Docent Corps.
Platt married his wife in 1968. They have four children.
Biographical information derived from interview and additional information provided by interviewee.