History Takes Flight with Picard Collection
Those watching C-130s circle over the Little Rock area on training flights from the Little Rock Air Force Base (LRAFB) at Jacksonville may wonder about these bulky aircraft, unaware of the important role they have played in both war and peace. For retired U.S. Air Force major Richard L. (Dick) Picard, now a Little Rock resident, sightings of the planes must surely bring back sharp memories of his service as a C-130 navigator—and especially of years spent in Southeast Asia supporting the troops in Vietnam.
Picard shared some of those memories in an oral history interview as part of the Butler Center’s Vietnam War Project. He spoke of the pride he and his fellow airmen felt in providing critical support to the troops on the ground. Their missions, which they referred to as “trash hauling,” took them in large circles throughout the region picking up and delivering supplies, ammunition, and often people. These circles included Taiwan, the Philippines, Okinawa, and Thailand, as well as several bases in Vietnam.
Dick Picard was born in South Carolina on December 12, 1939, to George and Evelyn Picard. He graduated from high school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and attended Northrop Institute of Technology in Inglewood, California. After graduation in 1962, with a degree in aircraft maintenance engineering, Picard was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.
Picard served for approximately two and a half years between 1967 and 1970 as a navigator on C-130 Hercules aircraft flying support missions to many locations in Vietnam. His first assignment was with the 50th Tactical Airlift Squadron based at Ching Chuan Kang Air Base in Taiwan. He was later assigned to the 21st Tactical Airlift Squadron, which flew out of Naha Air Base, Okinawa. Picard’s family was able to join him at Okinawa.
In addition to the oral history interview, Picard donated a number of documents and more than 300 photographs depicting his time in Southeast Asia. This includes photographs from the family’s time in Okinawa, as well as dramatic scenes from locations in Vietnam and Thailand.
Picard remained in the air force, serving the last seven years of his career in Arkansas at LRAFB as a C-130 instructor navigator and standardization/evaluation navigator in the training squadron. He retired in 1984 with the rank of major.
After retirement, Picard pursued a teaching certificate in physics at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and in 1986 began teaching physics at Parkview High School. He is now retired and lives in Little Rock.
Picard’s interview and a selection of photographs are available on the Vietnam War Project website.
The finding aid for the collection is online here.
The full collection, including the photographs and supporting documents, are available as the Richard L. (Dick) Picard Vietnam War Collection in the Research Room of the CALS Bobby L. Roberts Library of Arkansas History & Art.