Preloading

How Losing His Brother in Vietnam Inspired One Man to Join the Civil Rights Movement

Herb & Geraldine Metoyer, 79
Location: Southfield, MI
Interview facilitated by Michael Rene Metoyer

For Herb Metoyer, the period from 1963 to 1965 is still an open wound. In 1963, during his first tour as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, he lost several aircrafts and quite a few crew members, which he refers to as his first experience with death. Then, in November, he and the rest of the country learned of John F. Kennedy Jr.'s assassination. Finally, when he returned to the United States in early 1964, he was told that his brother, a fellow helicopter pilot, died when his aircraft crashed in the South China Sea.

To add insult to injury, Herb noticed that there were no black pilots in his brother's unit yearbook, despite the fact that two of the first three pilots the unit lost were black. That was a turning point for Herb. "Needless to say, I was very angry and disillusioned about my country and its hatred for black people," he says. "I felt like we deserved more, and I wanted to be part of our history and our struggle in the worst way."

Watch as Herb shares the painful experiences from those difficult years.

Hear more stories from people who were at the ground level of the civil rights marches
Published 01/05/2015
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