The book, “Inside the President’s Helicopter: Reflections of a White House Senior Pilot,” was authored by Army Lt. Col. Gene T. Boyer, the senior presidential helicopter pilot during the administrations of Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. The local connection is provided by Jackie Boor, listed on the book cover as a co-author with Boyer. The book lists Boyer as the author and is written in the first person, but the title adds Boor’s name as participating in authoring the book.
A South Area resident for the past 35 years, Boor, 59, makes her home in Sacramento.
Over the years, she has been active locally in a number of areas. She’s worked as a freelance writer and facilitator for several local organizations, achieving recognition and special awards from Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, the County Board of Supervisors, Sheriff’s Department and other Sacramento-area agencies. She is now an associate for Land Park-based Lang and Associates, a human dynamics consulting firm.
Boor first met helicopter pilot Boyer in 1995 at American River College, when the retired helicopter pilot lived for a time in El Dorado Hills after retiring from the military. The idea of an autobiography based on Boyer’s years piloting U.S. presidents along with numerous other world leaders developed gradually.
By 2007, when Boyer had moved to Huntington Beach on the Southern California coast, the book-writing project finally began to bear fruit. Over the next three years, there were frequent trips by Boor to Boyer’s new home, where the two conferred, wrote and edited the book’s 412 pages of history as recalled by the presidents’ helicopter pilot.
Gradually, the volume began to take shape and was finally completed in late 2010.
Boyer began his military career during the Korean War in the 1950s, when helicopters were used primarily to evacuate battle casualties. Later, during the Vietnam War, the value of helicopters to pinpoint sites of battle action began to become clearer and they were increasingly used in actual combat operations.
By this time, Boyer had decided that his own future would be concentrated on helicopters and their unique uses in air travel and combat missions. He was assigned to the White House in 1963 and became the Army’s Executive Detachment commander in 1969.
All told, Boyer’s career included in 6,900 hours devoted to copter flights, 368 in combat operations in Korea and Vietnam, and 580 on presidential missions, some of them taking him to far corners of the world, such as Egypt and the USSR.
Although he was raised by staunchly Democratic parents, Boyer makes it clear in his book that he didn’t think much of Democrat Lyndon Johnson as president – “a drinker and a phoney” he says. He said he ended up voting for Republican Richard Nixon as president and he appears to admire him as a public figure even in the face of Nixon’s eventual removal from the office at the end of the Watergate scandal.
At the end, he writes candidly about the presidents and other leaders who came after he retired.
Noting that new President Gerald Ford selected Donald Rumsfeld as his secretary of defense and Dick Cheney as his vice president, Boyer writes that “We do know the most unforgivable and devastating imprint was their alignment with President George W. Bush to lead the U.S. invasion of Iraq – an insane war that should never have made it out of the Oval Office.” That is the way Boyer feels about the Middle Eastern conflict that continues to take a heavy toll of U.S. lives.
Boyer writes that he hopes his book will be viewed as paying tribute to those who fought for the nation in its foreign wars.
The pilot author also describes his effort, long after his military service was over, to salvage the helicopter that he piloted when Nixon departed from the White House when he was removed from the presidency – Nixon’s arms outstretched in a gesture of farewell to the nation. Boyer’s effort succeeded. The copter was eventually located in a warehouse and has been refurbished and moved to its permanent resting place in the Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, Calif.
The book has received glowing endorsements, including one from Julie Nixon Eisenhower, who states “Inside the President’s Helicopter is a story of high adventure, courage and history-making moments…a very human, up-close look at the Presidency. It is a must read for anyone interested in the White House.”
The first author’s book signing ceremony was held Dec. 12 at Avid Book Store, across the street from the Tower Theater at Broadway and Land Park Drive. Boyer, who is dealing with recurrent health problems, was unable to attend, but additional signings are expected to be scheduled around the nation in the months to come.
The book is being offered in both paperback and hard cover forms by the publisher, Cable Co. of Brule, Wisconsin. It is available to purchase at Avid Book Store and online at www.amazon.com.