MAJ John R Ghere was a VHPA member who died after his tour in Vietnam on 02/03/2022 at the age of 87.3
Onondaga, MI
Flight Class 60-4
Date of Birth 10/03/1934
Served in the U.S. Army
Served in Vietnam with B/1/9 CAV 1 CAV in 65-66
Call sign in Vietnam GORILLA
This information was provided by Richard Deer

More detail on this person: Colonel John Ray Ghere (Ret.) of Onondaga, passed away February 3, 2022, at the age of 87. John was born in Anthony, KS, October 3, 1934, the son of George and Fern (Hill) Ghere. In 1935, when John was 1, his parents moved to Michigan by horse and wagon during the Dust Bowl Era. John was an only child and grew up on his parent's farm on Barnes Road just outside Eaton Rapids. He was a 1953 graduate of Eaton Rapids High School where he was in the band and played football. He was a graduate of Central Michigan University and ROTC. He was then commissioned an officer into the US Army. John married Barbara Nye on May 2, 1964 in Charlotte, Michigan. Colonel Ghere had a distinguished military career with over 36 years of service. He attended Fixed Wing Flight School in Class 60-4 learning to fly the single engine L-19, an aircraft he loved the rest of his life. He was an instructor pilot in the L-19 for several years. He then flew the DMZ in Korea in the L-19 in the early 60s. He then received orders to attend Rotary Wing School to learn to fly helicopters including the new UH-1 Huey helicopters. John was then assigned to the 11 Air Assault in Ft Benning, Georgia from 1964 to 1965 where tactics for helicopters were being developed for Vietnam. In 1965 the unit formed as the 1st Cavalry Division for deployment to Vietnam. John was assigned to the 1/9th also known as the "Buffalo Soldiers''. John was part of the advance party flying to Vietnam by C-130 while much of the unit and helicopters went by ship. In Vietnam John flew a UH-1B gunship which was the forerunner of the UH-1 Cobras. While flying reconnaissance John identified a potential landing area near the Chu Pong Mountain that would later be known as LZ Xray. John flew at LZ-Betty and then later at LZ-Xray in what would be known as the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley in November 1965. This battle is documented in the book and movie "We Were Soldiers Once and Young". John's farm boy upbringing led to him doing some innovative modifications to his UH-1B. John was proud that he never lost a crew member or his aircraft. His closest call was having the heel shot off his boot while flying. John flew the same UH-1B for his entire tour despite being shot down 3 times and then having his helicopter repaired to fly another day. "His" helicopter was lost 3 weeks after he left the country with the entire crew. John was a decorated pilot earning the Distinguished Flying Cross, 21 Air Medals and Master Army Aviator Wings. He had over 600 hours of combat time and 5,000 of total flying time. After Vietnam and active duty, he joined the Michigan Army National Guard as a pilot and later commanded Company A, 38th Aviation Battalion for 4 years. He was then assigned to the State Headquarters working on military support plans and operations where he also received a Meritorious Service Medal. He then later retired as a Colonel from the US Army Reserve in 1994. John is recognized in the US Army Aviation Flight Line Gallery, the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame, and the CMU ROTC Hall of Fame. He was a member of the Quiet Birdmen (QB) Lansing Hanger. After active-duty John was a farmer for over 30 years, a passion he loved. After a few years of teaching at Eaton Rapids and Jackson High Schools he focused on farming more and growing his farm. John served a term as Onondaga Township Supervisor as an active member of the community. John was instrumental in starting up Onondaga VFW Post #6986 and served as post commander. John continued to fly privately and would rebuild and restore several L-19 aircraft. He enjoyed hosting his Vietnam co-pilot and crew chief on his farm for deer hunting and meeting at reunions. John is survived by his wife, Barbara; daughters, Jean (Randy) Maiville of Onondaga, Karen Ghere of Lansing; grandchildren, Katherine and Elizabeth Maiville, both of Onondaga, Christina Ghere of Onondaga. He was preceded in death by his parents. Funeral services with military honors will be 11 am Friday February 11, 2022, at the Mills Funeral Home, Shelly-Odell Chapel in Eaton Rapids. Interment will follow in Onondaga Cemetery. Visitation will take place on Thursday from 6-8 pm. Memorial contributions may be made to the VFW National Home for Children, 3573 S. Waverly Rd. Eaton Rapids, MI 48827. To leave online condolences for the family, please visit our website, To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Colonel John, please visit our floral store.

Burial information: Onondaga Cemetery

This information was last updated 04/08/2024

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Date posted on this site: 06/15/2024

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