Hometown Heroes - Keith Cayton
Vietnam helicopter pilot
Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Keith Cayton is showing me on Google maps where served for a year in Vietnam. The war had heightened and Cayton wanted to be prepared while he was a student at McNeese State College.
“When I was at McNeese, I was going through advanced ROTC, because Vietnam was going strong and I had to make a decision whether I was going to be a ‘Private E-nothing’ or go in as an officer. I decided I was going to be an officer.”
The day Keith graduated from McNeese, he joined the Army. He eventually wound up in Vietnam where he flew Huey, Cobra and Loach helicopters from 1970 to 1971.
“I decided I’m going to try to choose my fate. Flying a helicopter was not necessarily the best fate to choose. They said that a helicopter pilot longevity was about 3 days. I guess I beat the punch because I made it for a whole year.”
Cayton was shot down twice and wounded once. He’s got the Purple Heart and several Bronze Stars.
Keith has several mementos from his service in the Vietnam War. This is actually a tail rotor blade from a helicopter he flew.
Cayton says most Vietnam vets were not welcomed back home from the war. He claims that, other than his family, I was the first to welcome him back:
“You did. It was at a Red, White, Blue and You celebration and you were the emcee. You asked if anyone in the audience had been in WW2 and in Korea. When you asked about Vietnam, you asked us to stand up and you said, “Welcome Home.””
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