Episode 2438 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature a story about Vietnam Vet Mark King and his experiences as a gunship pilot in country. The featured story appeared in The Andalusia Star News and was titled, Mark A. King, WO1, U.S. Army, Helicopter Pilot, Vietnam War Part 1. It was submitted by John Vick.
Mark Anthony King was born December 12, 1942 in Andalusia, Alabama. His parents were Gaston and Oletta Donaldson King. Mark had two older brothers, Joel and Wayne and would have a younger brother, Harry. Mark graduated from Andalusia High School in 1961 where he was a star football player on the bulldog football team. After graduation, he signed a football scholarship to play for Auburn University.
At the end of his freshman year, he was playing second team guard for the Tiger freshman team coached by Vince Dooley. During the summer of 1962, Mark worked for the City of Andalusia as a meter reader. He decided to give up football and enlist in the Army.
Mark was one of the first five civilians selected to go directly into helicopter training. Prior to that time, helicopter trainees came from the regular Army. He was sent to Fort Polk, Louisiana, and completed basic training in 1963. King was then sent to Warrant Officer Candidate School and basic helicopter training at Fort Wolters, Texas.
Mark finished pre-flight training in late December 1963. From there, he was sent to Fort Rucker, Alabama, for advanced helicopter training where he flew the UH-1A Huey. King Received his wings and was commissioned as a Warrant Officer on May 12, 1964. He was sent to Vietnam on June 11, 1964.