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Info Sheet/Bio - CPT Bruce A. Powell



Born in 1941, Salem Oregon. My mother was the daughter of an Irish immigrant (Presbyterian Minister); Dad was of Dutch descent and worked as a welder building Liberty Ships during WWII. I was not a fan of the public school system but managed to mostly stay out of trouble. Hobbies were hunting, fishing, water skiing, hydroplane racing, and rebuilding Pinball machines.

Drove a Pepsi truck in the summers to pay for college at Oregon State University. Lived for Army ROTC; drill team, counter guerrilla group, and flying. Founded the Army Sponsor Corps Drill Team (all women). Five years there and never graduated. More attention to attending classes would have helped. Applied and received an Officer Commission with waiver of Baccalaureate Degree (not a well known war time clause on the Oregon college books). Went to Infantry Officer Basic at Ft Benning, GA. Ranger and Airborne School orders were cancelled when my Flight School Orders came through (Class 66-22).

Assigned to D Troop 3/4 Cav in February 1967 and flew OH-23G scouts. Flew a few Stable Boy missions with Tom Fleming and some Slick missions with Harold Fisher. Finally CPT Frank Delvy gave me a shot with the Gun Platoon. Late 1967 the Cobras arrived in Nam. I extended to get one. They came in June 1968. My second extension was turned down. They wanted pilots with combat experience in the Cobra at the Cobra School, Hunter Army Airfield, Savannah, GA.


In 1968-70 I was MOI Branch Chief of Standardizaton Instructor Pilots (They taught Cobra Pilots to become Instructor Pilots). Centaur Tom Meeks helped me rewrite the Instructor Gunnery Pilot course. Worked with Jerry Daly rewriting the entire Cobra training manual.

The 1969 REFORGER I Excercise in Germany was to test the Air mobility Concept in a bad weather environment. I went TDY from Cobra Hall and led the Cobra Team of Task Force Pegasus and did some off the record cold weather night tests for Hans Weichsel Jr. (VP Bell Helicopter). LTG George P. Seneff (Had the first Cobra kill) took me up in his UH-1B gunship to demo what he wanted my team to do during the live fire exercise. What a pilot! Flew some VIPs and German pilots (enlisted men and absolute crazy men). They all wanted to do aerobatics.

My first command was Aviation Support Company B (1970 - Cobra Hall, Hunter Army Airfield). Then on to the Infantry Officers Career Course at Benning. Spent most of my time water skiing and got away with going to classes once in a while. The stuff they were teaching was antique and not preparing us for Gorilla War.

Did the OH-58 transition, challenged the scout pilot course at Ft Knox, and instead went through the Senior Officers Preventative Maintenance Course (amazingly well done course designed for General Officers; I snuck in). Had some wild times with Centaur Charlie Johnson while at Ft Knox.

I finagled orders for Airborne Training. Got in trouble for that one (Helicopter pilots don't jump). I crashed on my last jump. They pinned the wings on my limp body and sent me back to Nam on crutches (1972).

Set for a desktop job in Saigon, I requested to go to a unit that needed a Cobra Gun Platoon Leader. 25th Div was gone; D Troop was gone; did not know about F Troop Centaurs or you can bet I would have made my way there. The 129th AHC, “Cobras” and “Bulldogs”, supported the Capitol Division ROK Army (Korean) out of An Son (Lane Army Heliport), just inland from Qui Nhơn. My Centaur training served me well there even though this was a totally different war. They had just turned their UH-1C gunships in for AH-1G's. I had the Centaur teeth painted on them. limped home every day for five days with a different shot up Cobra from the Battle of the An Khe Pass. Finally ran out of flyable Cobras. For the first time in the Vietnam War, the Koreans got the shit kicked out of them. I was mostly Gun platoon leader, then XO, then CO.

I returned to Ft Ord, CA and was assigned command of the Survival Escape and Evasion Course. No, I was never in the Snake eater category, but I was a bachelor, the primary prerequisite (lousy hours for married guys). Managed to swing a HHC Commander/Bn S1 job at the Truck Drivers and Auto Mechanics AIT School. After accidentally making Major based solely on my combat record, I got a battalion S3 job with the 7th Avn Battalion at Ft Ord.

Sent to Korea in 1978. Became Battalion XO of the 19th Aviation Battalion, 17th Avn Group then later took command of the 3rd Avn Detachment, Camp Walker, Taegu, Korea (was also the Base Commander of the Camp Walker Heliport). I had platoons in Seoul and Daegu.

In September of 1978 we reactivated the unit as the 201st Red Baron’s. I extended my Command for six months.

From there I returned to Ft Ord, CA and went to CDEC (Combat Developments & Experimentation Command) using my Aviation R&D secondary MOS. As Project Officer 40 (Aviation tests). I was the link between the command and all the aviation related experiments going on at Fort Hunter Liggett (the Army's largest fully instrumented test facility at the time). Most was classified but included Directed Energy Weapons, Hellfire Missile, developing the instrumentation system used to build Ft Irwin and early testing of the Advanced Attack Helicopter Prototypes. Fascinating stuff.

The biggest most expensive test was TASVAL (Tactical Aircraft Survivability Evaluation - $60 Million)). Test was focused on the Cobra/Scout Hellfire Missile Team and the Air Force A10 Warthog, working together to defeat a Russian Tank force. I took command of the Joint Services HHC for that operation. Had a combination of Army, Marines and Air Force people. The Army sent their duds and the Air Force sent their nerdy technicians. Thank God for the Marines. They sent the best of the best. I spent most of my time kicking Army and Air Force duds out of the service; not a single problem with the Marines. (By the way the Marines kept the Cobra, the Army didn’t) I should have switched services.

Back at Ft Ord an Army admin guy called me and said that he had reviewed my Army Folder at DA and had no idea how I made Major, but that there was no chance in hell that I would make LTC without getting it cleaned up: missing awards, bad documents from another Powell, no college degree, no Command and General Staff College, and a record of personally fighting every assignment the Army ever tried to give me. He was right; I got passed over. The good people at CDEC cut me a little slack in my job and gave me an H model for most of my long trips to Hunter-Liggett (85 miles one way). I signed up for Embry Riddle college for a degree in Aviation (correspondence), went to night school at the Navy Post Graduate School in Monterey, challenged a couple of other college courses and did the Command and General Staff School through correspondence; All in six months! Three to four hours of sleep daily left me in bad shape. I made LTC the second time.

In 1983 many CDEC personal were being sent to FT Lewis, WA to quietly start a new unit called ADEA (Army Deployment and Employment Agency). A simple sounding name of a dynamic organization that worked directly for the Chief of Staff of the Army. Our mission was to pick and test things, anything, that had the potential to bypass the Army's seven year Research and Development Program. Some real wild stuff like buying Chenoweth Dune Buggies from California, redesigning them to be able to do extremely high speed cross country scouting with mounted machine guns and TOW missiles. It was a modernization of the "Rat Patrol" concept of WWII.

At 20 years of service, I retired, (1986 - Lots of medals) took my new girl friend Sharon Land Smith (from Pensacola, FL) to San Diego, and started a Macintosh computer based company from our rented home. We were technicians at first but became developers as we got better. I ran a computer store on the side for a while. I was not a good salesman. Our business Synergy grew big time. We published a monthly magazine for our computer user group, created touch screen kiosks for hospital Way-finding systems, maintained all the Mac computers for the City of San Diego, did video compression for Press Kits for major Hollywood Movies, and designed and built the Air-Watch Traffic Reporting system for all the TV Stations in San Diego; plus the one in Sarasota, FL, all controlled over the internet from our home.

Tom and Ann Meeks stood up for us when Sharon and I got married (I was 51, she 41). Married at the Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego. Went to Kauai, HI for our honeymoon. We then bought a big house on the hill in El Cajon, CA. Well we actually sold that monster house after 12 years of fixing it up, shut down our business Synergy and moved to Yuma, Arizona for a real retirement, and a life of Jeeping, Motorhoming and Webmastering. We now spend most of our time in our two small paradise homes in Yuma, AZ and Payson, AZ.

Life is good; never give up….Bruce

Flight Hours: 2854 Total Flt hours (1521 in combat and 541 as Instructor Pilot)

Awards: 1966 to 1986
4 - Distinguished Flying Cross (1 in OH-23G Unarmed Scout, 1 in UH-1C Gunship, 2 in AH-1G Cobra
2 - Bronze Stars
1- Air Medal with V
48- Air Medals (one for every 25 hours of combat flight)
Impact award from Korean General (1972 An Khe Pass) not in records.
2 - Army Commendation Medal
1 - Joint Service Commendation Medal (Army/Marines/Air Force - TASVAL 1991))
1 - Legion of Merit
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Armed Forces Reserve Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Overseas Service Ribbon
5 - Overseas Service Bars
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm
Master Aviator Badge
Airborne Qualified
Plaque from Mayor of Taegu, Korea (Support of Korean Orphanage)
Standardization Instructor Pilot in AH-1G
Instructor Pilot rating in OH-58
15A - Avaition
51A - Research & Development