TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Memories flood back easily as Bill Elmore looks at the many images from the Vietnam War.
Elmore volunteered for the Navy and was shipped to Southeast Asia near the end of the war. He served aboard the U.S.S. Blue Ridge which is still in service today.
The Blue Ridge was part of a rescue mission called Operation Frequent Wind. The North Vietnamese army had encircled Saigon, forcing the evacuation of U.S. military personnel and thousands of fleeing Vietnamese.
During the dangerous and chaotic operation, Elmore’s job was to document the troubling time in U.S. military history. Some of his most famous photographs involved a Vietnamese man falling from a helicopter.
The entire operation lasted about one day and then the North Vietnamese stormed the gates of the U.S. embassy, ending the war. After the war, Elmore returned to Terre Haute, raised a family and worked several jobs, including photography.
Early in his career, he worked for the Terre Haute Tribune Star and saw many news worthy events in the area. He also traveled the world for a charter service called Evergreen Airlines.
One of Elmore’s jobs post-war was to help disassemble and move Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose from California to Oregon. It was the largest wooden plane ever constructed.