“Tribute To Al Avery”
AND CREW OF JOLLY GREEN 67
BY: JOHN RATLIFF
John Ratliff wrote this poem on November 19, 1997, the day Al and the other crew members of Jolly Green 67 were buried at Arlington National Cemetery. As John wrote the poem he remembered back to the time when he found about the loss of Jolly Green 67 and its crew including his friend and fellow PJ, Al Avery. At that time John was in his first year of attendance at Oregon State University and living in the College Inn in Corvallis, Oregon. His Tribute Poem reflects his memory of the times and place he was living in when he found out about the loss of his friend and the crew of Jolly Green 67.
One of John Ratliff remembrances of Al Avery from his diary entry of 11 November 1970;
"Avery shot a hole through the floor of the H-53. He had a misfire (3 times), brought the gun down and it fired. He had to talk to the commander this evening..."
As a further explanation John added the following comments; this was a minigun, and the normal stowage is to swing the minigun’s door attachment post (which swung horizontally – see the bottom of the attached photo on a bolted pivot) into the chopper, pin the post to the wall, and point the gun at the floor. This was the HH-53C Super Jolly’s right door we are talking about. That is when the misfiring occurred, and left a hole about three inches from the door frame of the Jolly. Nothing but skin and aluminum floor was hit, thankfully it was not Al’s fault, but it curtailed our test firing for a while until we figured out what happened.
This second photo shows Jim Morris (PJ, second from the left), Al Avery (PJ, fourth from the left) and Jim Thomas (PJ, third from the right, in the beret, who was subsequently lost in a helicopter crash into the river). They are with the two A-1E pilots, being congratulated by the two pilots that they had rescued.