KSU ANTH Alum Publishes his Memoir as Helicopter Pilot in Vietnam War

Pat was a terrific “non-traditional student,” graduating from our KSU anthropology program in his early fifties about ten years ago. I wrote a short review of his recently-published book “Memoirs of a Rotor Head.”

His life story is interesting, in part because he took initiatives and ventured off the beaten track.

“[Captain (retired) Patrick Michael ]Ramsay has written a remarkable book, a true and honest personal testament. Born in a small town in the Great Plains [Clay Center], he tells how he joined the Air Cavalry (Silver Spurs), flying numerous combat missions as a Huey chopper pilot during the height of the Vietnam War. He served two back-to-back tours in 1969-1971. Now slowly dying of Agent-Orange, like so many other Vietnam vets, he reflects: “Vietnam was the most exciting time of my life. You treated everyday like it could be your last.” After Vietnam, he returned to Kansas, became a single father, studied cultural anthropology, joined the Peace Corp in Nicaragua, became a Park Ranger “in some of the most beautiful places in the United States…” But, looking back on an adventurous life well lived, this native Kansan realizes Vietnam defined him: “I looked death in the face and smiled at the experience. When you live in a war you cherish every moment knowing it could all end in the snap of your fingers or the bang of a bullet. Everyday decisions were made on a life and death level. The decisions I made after Vietnam and the decisions I make today are very seldom on that level, which makes it easy to decide what to do.” Pat was one of my students and my teaching assistant, but became so much more than that. He is an exemplary human being and I much admire him, for he embodies the true American spirit. Once a chopper pilot, flying a noisy steel-bodied storm bird over tropical jungles very far away and long ago, he is now back in his home town, with majestic eagles soaring quietly in the blue skies high above open prairies. Captain (ret.) Ramsay’s book is interesting because its author personifies the adventurous “can-do” mentality that has made this country great. A wounded warrior himself, he has decided to donate the proceeds of his memoir to the Wounded Warriors Project. A generous gesture befitting a noble son of Kansas….”

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