BROZ VLADIMIR R #2

CPT Vladimir "Vlad" R. Broz was a VHPA member who died after his tour in Vietnam on 05/03/2023 at the age of 84.2
Chagrin Falls, OH
Flight Class 63-5WT
Date of Birth 02/09/1939
Served in Vietnam with 161 AHC in 65, 119 AHC in 66, AIR AMERICA in 66-74
Call signs in Vietnam CROC 7, SCORPION, CROCODILE
This information was provided by Dean Broz - Son

More detail on this person: Vladimir Radislav Broz 1939-2023 Vladimir Radislav Broz - helicopter pilot, adventurer, and mountaineer - slipped the bonds of earth for the last time at oh dark thirty on May 3, 2023, in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. He was 84. Born in Zagreb, Croatia, on February 9, 1939, to Radislav Kvirin Broz and Zora Marija Broz (née Turina), Vlad grew up on the east end of Aruba, where he lived with his parents and brothers, Boris and Igor, in the Lago Colony of the Esso Corporation. Vlad recalled these years as "an idyllic time." He and his friend, Tony (Anthony Kent) Johnson, ran barefoot and freely-explored beaches, caves, and mines, and chased iguanas. Vlad was particularly proud of his ability to run barefoot across sharp coral. However, his sun-kissed freedom ended abruptly at age 12, when, owning nothing warmer than shorts and short sleeves, he arrived with his family to a cold winter at their new home in Westfield, New Jersey. The Westfield High School yearbook describes him as "friendly _ always joking _ twinkling eyes." After graduation, Vlad excelled in geology at Franklin and Marshall College. He found geology offered a good balance between his talent in the sciences and his love of outdoor activity. During the summers he attended MIT Geology Camp, worked as a geologic mapping field assistant in Montana, and mined iron ore for Bethlehem Steel. In his junior year, he became the youngest student in the history of the Geology Department to pass the U.S. Geological Survey entrance exam. One memorable non-academic experience was eating cat food (the kind with tiny bones in it) as a pledge of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity. After graduating from college, Vlad and Tony, who had also moved to New Jersey from Aruba, spent six glorious weeks driving to Acapulco, Mexico, and back - a trip Vlad remembered fondly and vividly until the end of his life. There they scuba-dived and were nearly swept out to sea in a rip current. They returned to New Jersey via a circuitous route including Las Vegas, arriving home with scarcely enough money for a hamburger and not enough for turnpike tolls. Drafted into the U.S. Army in 1962, Vlad served as a topographic surveyor with a Combat Engineer Company at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and then was sent to Homestead Air Force Base, near Miami, to drive generals around in a jeep for the duration of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Having always wanted to be a pilot, Vlad was disappointed to learn that at 6'5" he was too tall for the Air Force. However, one day he spotted a recruitment poster at the Post Office seeking helicopter pilots, and not long thereafter he enrolled in the Warrant Officer Flight Training Program, where he found his calling. As the Honor Graduate from his Fort Wolters' Army Primary Helicopter School class 63-5wt in 1963, he was awarded his top choice post. He chose Germany, serving with the 504th Aviation Battalion in Katterbach. It was there that, while throwing a javelin, Vlad spotted a tall, blonde, beauty who could match both his intellect and love of adventure. Vlad told his friends, and numerous others throughout his life, he had found "the best." Eva Hankh soon became his wife and in 1965 they welcomed their first son, Dean Patrick. Eva and Dean settled in with Vlad's parents in New Jersey in December 1965, as Vlad boarded a troop ship for Qui Nhon, Vietnam, and moved to a newly-established mud- hole camp that would become Lane Army Heliport. Arriving in the height of monsoon season, Vlad's newly issued leather boots fell apart after only three weeks. From the heliport, Vlad flew a Huey gunship for the 161st Aviation Company Scorpions in support of the South Korean Tiger Division until April 1966, when he transferred to the 119th Aviation Company out of Pleiku. There his helicopter gunship, "Croc 7," supported classified missions for Operation Shining Brass, escorting unarmed helicopter "slicks" ferrying innocuously-named "Studies and Observation Group" teams from the Dak To Forward Operating Base to insertion points in the border area of South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. After completing his tour with the Army in October 1966, Vlad joined Air America, a CIA flight operation. Upon assuming this new post in Vietnam, Eva and Dean joined him in Saigon. For five years he flew helicopters in Vietnam, moving Eva and Dean to Singapore after the 1968 Tet Offensive. In 1970 in Singapore, Vlad and Eva's second son, Steven Anthony, was born. He was named for Vlad's longtime friend, Tony, who had died as a B-52 navigator in 1967 when his plane made an emergency landing in Da Nang after a hydraulic failure. During a sabbatical year in Denver, Colorado, his third son, Marko Radislav, was born. For the next three years, Vlad returned to Air America, settling Eva, Dean, Steven and Marko in Udorn, Thailand and flying to Laos and Cambodia. During his eight years with Air America, Vlad became an expert in mountain flight and could make a downwind, overgross landing without hesitation. Having experienced the risks of flying and the tragic human cost of error, Vlad frequently asked himself, "what if_" to plan for all possible and even unlikely scenarios, thereby reducing risk to his team. He remembered those from his flight school class who didn't make it home - Roy Azbill, Ronald Kinkeade, and Clifford Johnson - as well as other pilots he knew. He considered himself lucky, with his helicopter having taken hits on 15 flights, but without injury to anyone on board. As the Vietnam War wound down, Vlad transitioned to flying for international oil companies, flying to oil platforms in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Mexico, and hoisting sea pilots to ships in the North Sea. After one particularly challenging flight in the Gulf of Mexico, where he wound the helicopter around and through thunderstorms, each passenger shook his hand in thanks upon disembarkation. Vlad's final role in his long aviation career was as Chief Pilot and Director of Flight Operations for Henry Kravis, of KKR, out of Teterboro, New Jersey, where he supervised the construction and delivery of a Bombardier Global Express. To counterbalance the routine of corporate flying and later the slower pace of retirement, Vlad found adventure in mountain climbing and loved to bring family and friends along. He summited peaks on three continents and his most memorable climbs included: Cotopaxi, Iliniza Norte, Popcatepetl, Half Dome, Mt. Whitney, Algonquin in winter, Mt. Washington in winter, Mt. Democrat, Grossglockner, Longs Peak, and the Dolomites. Upon his retirement, Vlad and Eva's sons gave them a 1966 Sunbeam Alpine, a near replica of the car they loved to drive in Singapore. For many years thereafter, Vlad found great joy in seemingly endless work turning a wrench to maintain and repair the red vintage convertible, and he even won a few car show awards. For the final decade of Vlad's life, he and Eva lived a few blocks from their son, Steven, and his family in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Vlad was widely known throughout the town for his long walks with his Portuguese Water Dog, Vega, his warm smile, and his engaging conversations. He relished card games, such as Michigan, with his family. Vlad's ashes have been interred at Evergreen Hills Cemetery in Chagrin Falls. Some have also been sprinkled near the Appalachian Trail at Bear Mountain, New York and will likely make it to a few other peaks. Vlad leaves his wife, Eva, sons Dean, Steven, and Marko, grandchildren Alex, Jackie, Parker, Benjamin, Andrew, Jean-Pierre, and Grace - and, of course, Vega. And now, he's likely hiking somewhere, whistling, eating Mon Chéri chocolates, and chatting with strangers on the trail to share his favorite riddle: "Why is a bird when flying? The higher, the fewer." Donations in his memory may be made to the Fisher House Foundation (www.fisherhouse.org), which builds comfort homes where military and veteran families may stay free of charge while a loved one is in the hospital.

Burial information: Evergreen Hills Cemetery, Chagrin Falls, OH

This information was last updated 07/01/2023

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Date posted on this site: 01/20/2024


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