Zipperer, Carl

Carl Zipperer was born on May 4, 1950 in Savannah.  He grew up in that part of Georgia, and most of his early years were spent in the country on the family farm.  Carl learned to be self-reliant there, a character trait that would serve him well in future years.  Coming out of high school, Carl did opt to go to college, but money was tight.  Uncertain about the direction he wanted at that time, he dropped out to work for a time, and that decision brought him to the attention of the draft board.  Knowing that he would be drafted, Carl opted to enlist, choosing the path of army aviation.  He went through a series of camps, from basic training to helicopter training at Fort Wolters, navigating the rigors of military discipline.  In particular Carl recounts some excellent stories pertaining to his helicopter training, highlighting the different models used and his memories of the different instructors – and of his propensity to motion sickness that had to be conquered!  The training behind him, Carl was ready to go overseas, and he flew via Hawaii and Guam on his way to Vietnam.  Once there, he was sent to Chu Lai for a period of in country training on the Americal Division base.  He was then assigned to the 176th Assault Helicopter Company, where he began to be involved in flying missions – and learning from the pilots who had already spent time doing just that – and Carl credits them with teaching him many of the crucial points of the trade.  There was more to flying those missions than the tactics taught in training:  the pilots’ real-world experience and adaptations were critical.  Carl went on to fly all types of missions – supply, combat assault, medevac, VIP, and so on.  Along the way he saw things he’d never forget, covering the gamut from horror to heroism.  He was wounded and experienced loss of friends and comrades, all of which contributed to his changing mindset on the war.  When his tour of duty was up he made his way back to the US, finding his way in civilian life in numerous jobs and locations.  As time passed Carl looked back on his time in Vietnam, working on webpages and reunions and remembrance, and encouraging young people to ask critical questions when war is perhaps imminent.Crestwood students had the chance to zoom with Carl in May 2023, and Mr. Masters did several follow-up zooms with Carl in the summer of 2023, creating an extensive oral history archive that can be accessed here.