John E. Hebert
U. S. Marines
Dates of Service: 09/1966 - 06/30/1978
Pilot, VMCJ-3

A Shreveport native, John is one of four children of Earl Thomas Hebert and Novaline Mildred Campbell Hebert. His father was a welder, then a foreman for J.B. Beaird Co. He recalls growing up in Shreveport of the 1940s and 50s as "simple compared to today." Attending St. John's, Jesuit & Loyola, a college preparatory school, he recalls completing "anywhere from three to five hours of homework a night." John graduated in 1961. Meanwhile he was working summers for J.B. Beaird Co. At Louisiana Tech he majored in mechanical engineering and took two years of ROTC. Graduating in summer of 1966, he was commissioned a second lieutenant, joined the US Marine Corps, and entered flight school at Saufley Field Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, where he finished top in his class. After six months of training in the T-2A jet in the naval air station at Meridian, Mississippi, he returned to Pensacola for gunnery school, and also trained in carrier landings. At the naval air station in Beeville, Texas, he flew the F-9 Cougar, trained in air-to-air and air-to-ground gunnery, and practiced more carrier landings, graduating in April of 1968. At Marine Corps Air Station El Toro near Irvine, California he was placed in VMCJ-1, a combat squadron and trained as a photo pilot. On January 18, 1969, he married Sharon Jean LeClair. (They would have two children and four grandchildren.) Ordered to Vietnam in April of 1969 he arrived in Da Nang on a transport plane. "They opened the door and the humidity, the smell was something I never smelled before," he recalls. During a 10-month tour in Vietnam he completed 140 missions--100 in the F-4 and 41 in an F-10. He often flew near sunset and sunrise when the Vietnamese or Viet Cong were cooking meals. "So we would fly over with an infrared camera and look for hot spots," he recalls. "You could track their movements by where the hot spots were." He was fired upon at least twice, he remarks. Both times he brought the aircraft back, and earned a Distinguished Flying Cross. On a one-week rest and recuperation leave in Hawaii, he recalls, "I saw my daughter for the first time. She was a month old." In early 1970 John returned to the States on the USS New Orleans (LPH-11) a helicopter carrier. During the next several years he saw service in Japan and Taiwan. At Camp Pendleton he helped develop a computer system that was to be the first command and control system in the U.S. military. After leaving the Marines in 1978 he worked for Texas Instruments as a manufacturing engineer. Returning to aviation, he ran a flight school and sold airplanes in Jackson, Mississippi, joined the Army National Guard and trained as a helicopter pilot. John flew Hueys in Mississippi and in California, where the family moved. He retired from national guard service in 1991. Returning to Shreveport in 1995 he began flying corporate jets. He now flies for Louisiana Gas Development Corporation. John is a member of the Marine Corps League and serves as financial secretary for Knights of Columbus in his church.