AACHM Oral History: Bill Henderson
Wed, 07/27/2022 - 12:41pm
When: July 20, 2022
William A. Henderson was born in 1943 in Ann Arbor to William and Viola Henderson. After graduating from Ann Arbor High School and Eastern Michigan University, Henderson enlisted in the Marine Corps and went through naval aviator training. He flew in 125 combat missions during the Vietnam War and was a forward air controller with the infantry. He advanced through the ranks and in 1996 became the first Black pilot to achieve the status of Major General in the Michigan Air National Guard. He was also Chief Pilot at General Motors. He and his wife Francine have two children, Justin and Nicole.
- [00:00:15] JOYCE HUNTER: We're going to start with Part 1, which is demographics and family history. I'm first going to ask you some simple demographic questions. These questions may jog your memories, but please keep your answers brief and to the point for now. We can go into more details later in the interview. Please say and spell your name.
- [00:00:38] BILL HENDERSON: Bill Henderson, B-I-L-L-H-E-N-D-E-R-S-O-N.
- [00:00:45] JOYCE HUNTER: What is your date of birth including the year?
- [00:00:49] BILL HENDERSON: January 18th, 1943.
- [00:00:53] JOYCE HUNTER: How would you describe your ethnic background?
- [00:00:57] BILL HENDERSON: African American.
- [00:01:01] JOYCE HUNTER: What is your religion, if any?
- [00:01:02] BILL HENDERSON: Methodist.
- [00:01:07] JOYCE HUNTER: What is the highest level of formal education you have completed?
- [00:01:12] BILL HENDERSON: I got a bachelor's degree from Eastern Michigan and then I completed Navy flight training to get my wings, which was another two-year program.
- [00:01:21] JOYCE HUNTER: What is your marital status?
- [00:01:23] BILL HENDERSON: Married.
- [00:01:26] JOYCE HUNTER: How many children do you have?
- [00:01:28] BILL HENDERSON: Two.
- [00:01:31] JOYCE HUNTER: How many siblings do you have?
- [00:01:34] BILL HENDERSON: I had three, but they're all passed on.
- [00:01:37] JOYCE HUNTER: Sorry to hear that. How many siblings do you have?
- [00:01:49] BILL HENDERSON: Well, three, but like I say, they've all passed away.
- [00:01:51] JOYCE HUNTER: Maybe I meant to ask, how about children?
- [00:01:55] BILL HENDERSON: Oh, I'm sorry. I have two children and had three siblings.
- [00:01:59] JOYCE HUNTER: There you go. What is the name of your children?
- [00:02:04] BILL HENDERSON: Justin and Nicole.
- [00:02:06] JOYCE HUNTER: Great. What was your primary occupation?
- [00:02:11] BILL HENDERSON: I was a military pilot and a commercial pilot.
- [00:02:16] JOYCE HUNTER: I read that with information that you sent. I'm looking forward to hear more about that.
- [00:02:21] BILL HENDERSON: Okay.
- [00:02:22] JOYCE HUNTER: If retired, what age did you retire?
- [00:02:25] BILL HENDERSON: Sixty. It was mandatory at 60.
- [00:02:29] JOYCE HUNTER: Now we're going to go into Part 2, memories of childhood and youth. This part of the interview is about your childhood and youth. Even if these questions jog memories about other times in your life, please only respond with memories for this part of your life. What was your family like when you were a child?
- [00:02:49] BILL HENDERSON: Well, at home there was myself, my mother and father and a sister. The other two siblings had moved, grown and gone.
- [00:03:02] JOYCE HUNTER: Were you the youngest or the baby, or?
- [00:03:04] BILL HENDERSON: Oh, yeah, I was the youngest.
- [00:03:08] JOYCE HUNTER: What sort of work did your parents do?
- [00:03:11] BILL HENDERSON: My father was a janitor at St. Andrews Church and my mother cooked in the various fraternity houses on campus at the U of M.
- [00:03:22] JOYCE HUNTER: They were fraternities or sororities, or both?
- [00:03:25] BILL HENDERSON: Fraternities.
- [00:03:29] JOYCE HUNTER: What is your earliest memory in your childhood? What's one of your earliest memories?
- [00:03:34] BILL HENDERSON: I think my earliest memories was my first day of school in kindergarten.
- [00:03:41] JOYCE HUNTER: Tell us about that?
- [00:03:44] BILL HENDERSON: When we went up to register for school, I only had to go a couple of blocks to Perry School, I remember that.
- [00:03:51] JOYCE HUNTER: Do you remember anything other than going to Perry School? What stuck out for you?
- [00:03:58] BILL HENDERSON: Well, what happened that day that stuck out is I fell on the railroad tracks and cut my mouth and had to go to the hospital for stitches [LAUGHTER], the very first day we registered. But then the other thing is when I was young like that, we always walked to school, it was only a couple of blocks, we went past this bakery that was around the corner. We used to always stop in there and they'd give us baked goods. I just remember that whole elementary experience was pretty nice.
- [00:04:27] JOYCE HUNTER: Beyond the fall, it was a good year?
- [00:04:30] BILL HENDERSON: Yeah, right. [LAUGHTER]
- [00:04:35] JOYCE HUNTER: Which holidays did your family celebrate?
- [00:04:38] BILL HENDERSON: Pretty much all of them. We spent a lot of time going to Canada on holidays. Everybody in my family expect me was born in Canada. We went up to Canada a lot on different holidays. But then there were others that were at home. But pretty much all the holidays we usually celebrated in a traditional way, Christmas and New Year's and of course Memorial Day and Easter and Labor Day. Labor Day was a big day in Canada, we used to go up there all the time for that.
- [00:05:11] JOYCE HUNTER: You actually were born in Canada and then moved to the Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor area?
- [00:05:19] BILL HENDERSON: No. I was born in Ann Arbor. But everybody else in the family was born in Canada and came over here as adults, except my siblings were young when they came over.
- [00:05:35] JOYCE HUNTER: I'm curious about, you said you would go back and visit primarily for the holidays or did you still have family in Canada?
- [00:05:42] BILL HENDERSON: Oh, yeah, aunts and uncles. Then I used to go up there every summer, not every summer, but most summers after I got to be about eight years old, and spend the summer or two or three weeks up there helping my uncles and cousins on their farms, they had farms up there.
- [00:06:02] JOYCE HUNTER: What kind of things did you do at that age on the farm to help out?
- [00:06:06] BILL HENDERSON: Well the big thing was a lot of riding in trucks because they were tomato farmers and corn. At a certain age, I was old enough to start helping them pick tomatoes. But when you're young like that, all that was fun. But as you got older, it wasn't so much fun anymore. So picked tomatoes and then they also raised pigs, and they used to load those up and take them into Windsor to the slaughterhouse and I used to ride doing all that. But just young kids stuff. Quote "helping out"--probably more in the way than actually helping.
- [00:06:44] JOYCE HUNTER: Once you got older, you said it wasn't as much fun because you [OVERLAPPING] realized it was a lot of work?
- [00:06:51] BILL HENDERSON: Yeah. Right. Once I got to be 14, 15, then it became more like work and not play anymore.
- [00:07:00] JOYCE HUNTER: You said you were born in Ann Arbor, you were born where? At hospital? At home?
- [00:07:08] BILL HENDERSON: I was born at home, right on Hoover Street. Born at home and that's the home I grew up in.
- [00:07:21] JOYCE HUNTER: What was the address on Hoover Street? Do you remember?
- [00:07:23] BILL HENDERSON: Oh, yeah. 146 East Hoover. Just at the north end of the football stadium.
- [00:07:28] JOYCE HUNTER: Oh, wow. Is that still property that belongs to the family?
- [00:07:35] BILL HENDERSON: Yeah. But it's in the process, my nieces are getting ready to sell it, I believe. I had a sister that lived there and just passed away about three months ago, so four months ago. We had the house together, but she bought me out years ago so her daughters have it and they're talking about selling it.
- [00:07:59] JOYCE HUNTER: My condolences on the passing of your sister.
- [00:08:02] BILL HENDERSON: Oh, yeah. She had a pretty good life. She was 90 when she passed away.
- [00:08:09] JOYCE HUNTER: Now, what do you remember about activities on Hoover Street? Do you remember much about your family or children playing?
- [00:08:19] BILL HENDERSON: Oh, yeah. It was great because that's right on the University of Michigan athletic campus, the stadium and the intramural building right down the street. Then a city park, Wines Field, was right around the corner. In the summer when school was out we were down there nine o'clock in the morning when the park opened, and in and out of there all day. We used to go up, in those days the stadium was open so we'd go ride our bikes in the stadium, run around in the stadium, go down to the intramural building. And since school was out then, a lot of the janitors would let us in the intramural building and we'd play in the gym or even go swimming in the pool. It was a great location to grow up in. It was awesome. There were parks all over the city then, so kids had a lot more to do. But yeah, we lived in that park.
- [00:09:15] JOYCE HUNTER: Was that an integrated area at that time or not?
- [00:09:19] BILL HENDERSON: Well, there were probably maybe five Black families over there at that time, so it was mostly white, obviously. Even when I left there, maybe there might have been ten Black families. But it was, like I said, not many Black families at that time coming up, but that wasn't an issue. White kids, Black kids, we all played together. That wasn't an issue at that time.
- [00:09:53] JOYCE HUNTER: Now you said you attended Perry School?
- [00:09:57] BILL HENDERSON: Right.
- [00:09:58] JOYCE HUNTER: You went to Perry. So you did not go to school in Ann Arbor first, you went to the Perry in Ypsilanti?
- [00:10:04] BILL HENDERSON: Oh no, Perry School Ann Arbor.
- [00:10:05] JOYCE HUNTER: Oh, Perry School Ann Arbor.
- [00:10:07] BILL HENDERSON: Yeah, it's right on the corner of Packard and Division.
- [00:10:10] JOYCE HUNTER: Okay.
- [00:10:12] BILL HENDERSON: No. That was just a couple of blocks from my house.
- [00:10:17] JOYCE HUNTER: I haven't heard many people talk about attending Perry in Ann Arbor. You want to tell me a little bit more about that?
- [00:10:22] BILL HENDERSON: Well, the school now, it was bought by the University of Michigan and they added onto it and I don't know what they do in there. But Perry School was kindergarten through the sixth grade and maybe five or 10 percent--probably 10 percent--of the kids that went there were of color. I think the school probably closed around maybe 1965 or somewhere in that area. But it wasn't a real big school compared to some of the others. One class for each grade, and student teachers came there and all that just like the other ones. It probably closed in the mid-'60s, I would think.
- [00:11:19] JOYCE HUNTER: You went from there to what school?
- [00:11:21] BILL HENDERSON: Slauson. [OVERLAPPING] At that time there were only two junior highs in Ann Arbor, Slauson and Tappan. Because of where you lived determined which junior high you went to. Junior high was sixth or seventh through the ninth grade. Because of where I lived, I ended up going to Slauson. Some of my classmates at Perry went to Tappan, probably half went to Tappan.
- [00:11:46] JOYCE HUNTER: How was those experiences for you?
- [00:11:48] BILL HENDERSON: Well, that was good. Slauson was also within walking distance, but a fairly long walk. A lot of times we'd ride. My father, to go into work he'd go down Main Street so we'd ride with him to downtown Ann Arbor and then just walk three or four blocks west towards Slauson. But yeah, of course, then a lot of kids from Jones School and all the other schools, Ball and Eberwhite and all the other elementary schools, came to Slauson and then some of the ones that went to Tappan were Burns Park and Angell School and some on the other side of town. But it was a good experience. Again, it was sixth grade through the ninth grade.
- [00:12:31] JOYCE HUNTER: Then from there you went to Ann Arbor High?
- [00:12:34] BILL HENDERSON: Right. There was only one public high school. Then you had St. Thomas, which was a Catholic school, and University High, had high school then, which was a more of a private school. I guess you'd call it, yeah, a private school. There were those three high schools, but St. Thomas and U High were very small. Pioneer High, when I went there, had only been open about two years, so it was a brand new school, and I had 650 kids in my graduating class.
- [00:13:07] JOYCE HUNTER: Small class.
- [00:13:10] BILL HENDERSON: The school was like 1800, 2,000 students. Again, that was the only public high school in town at that time. The old high school was downtown on Huron Street and they moved out to Pioneer on Stadium there just about two years before I went to high school.
- [00:13:33] JOYCE HUNTER: Was Don one of your classmates?
- [00:13:35] BILL HENDERSON: He was a year behind me. He went to Tappan, so I didn't really know him till we got to high school. I didn't know him that well in high school. He ended up going to Tappan.
- [00:13:49] JOYCE HUNTER: During the school years, did you play any sports or join any other activities outside the school?
- [00:13:56] BILL HENDERSON: No. I played intramural sports. I started school a year early and I don't know why they let me in, but they started me a year early, so I was always very small and kind of introverted. I played intramural sports and that was about it. Actually, when I look back, I probably would have benefited if I had waited a year, I'd have been much more mature. When I was in high school, I live way like 140 pounds and was about 5' 8" when I graduated [LAUGHTER]. I graduated at 17. That was the extent of my activities in high school.
- [00:14:44] JOYCE HUNTER: I would imagine they started you early because you must have been a smart young man.
- [00:14:50] BILL HENDERSON: Well, I don't know if that was necessarily it. I think my mother had taken me up there and didn't know that you're supposed to be five and they said, "Well, he'll be five in about six months, so let's go ahead and start him." [LAUGHTER] I always tell people I didn't start early or skip a grade, it's just I started early.
- [00:15:13] JOYCE HUNTER: Were there any changes in your family's life during your school years?
- [00:15:17] BILL HENDERSON: No, my youngest sister, who was 11 years older than me, got married when I was probably about eight or nine years old and so she ended up leaving. So then it was just me and my parents, me and my mother and father for the rest of my childhood or early adulthood.
- [00:15:40] JOYCE HUNTER: What about your school experience is different from school as you know it today?
- [00:15:46] BILL HENDERSON: Well, when I went to school, there was a whole lot more discipline. Well, first of all, the grades were different. Junior high was 7, 8, and 9, and high school was 10, 11, and 12. I always thought that worked pretty well. There was a lot more discipline in the school then. I've done some speaking at the schools as an adult. I find the schools--and I did some volunteer work at a high school locally. To me, the schools are almost out of control. It's almost like the students are running the school. I see things going on at school that, just to me, I can't believe it. I often wonder how a person could be. You got to be special to be a teacher in public schools today, in my opinion, because I think you spend 90 percent of your time disciplining people and 10 percent teaching. Just the lack of respect. But that's the whole society, actually, it's just a reflection of our society. Things were more formal, you dressed different. The teachers, I don't know, I can't say don't expect as much out of you today, I can't make that statement, but they got more out of you than I think they do today. In fact, when I went and volunteered at a local high school for a while, I planned on doing it for a year or so. After about four weeks, five weeks, I had to get out of there, I said, "This isn't working. I can see myself getting in trouble here." [LAUGHTER] I'm not very big on the way that public schools are being handled right now. That school I worked with in Detroit, which was a private school, which was 500 African American kids all the way from kindergarten through high school, was unbelievable. Totally different. They wore uniforms. Very well-regulated. Kids were respectful. It's a different program, when the parents are paying a little bit of money. This school, however, was primarily geared towards lower income African Americans in Detroit. All the parents had to pay something even if it was only $50 because the school was supported by funds from corporations and individuals. The kids that came out of there, 95 percent of them went to college or went on to trade schools and got some serious scholarships to some of the major--and their test scores were higher than Grosse Point, Bloomfield Hills, and Birmingham. So that shows what you can do when you have a school that has good discipline and good parent involvement.
- [00:18:35] JOYCE HUNTER: At that particular school, you stayed there you said for a year, or how long did you stay at that school?
- [00:18:42] BILL HENDERSON: That school, the private school, I was strictly there going in off and on a money-raising basis, and giving a few short classes on aviation. So it wasn't like I was working at that school or volunteering at that school on a regular basis. But of all the times I went there, just what I saw and dealing with the kids, it was an eye-opener. Whereas at the local school I went to, the local high school, I'd planned on being there about a year as a volunteer, but I ended up about four or five weeks and I hit the road. [LAUGHTER] I'm going to get in trouble if I stay here because I couldn't believe what I was seeing going on. The language, boys and girls, and total disrespect for teachers, and just amazing. That was very disheartening in my opinion. I come away from there wondering about, I just can't imagine being a teacher going to work every day in that environment. It seemed like it would be very depressing. But hey, everybody is different. I couldn't do it. [LAUGHTER]
- [00:19:52] JOYCE HUNTER: Let me ask you about your children. Did they go to public or private school?
- [00:19:57] BILL HENDERSON: Public. Both went through Huron High. Then my son went to Eastern and got a cachelor's degree in chemistry and biology. Then he went to the University of Michigan and became a pharmacist. Got his pharmacy degree from Michigan. He lives alone. And my daughter, she didn't go to college, she wasn't college material. But they both live locally here in town.
- [00:20:26] JOYCE HUNTER: Do you remember when they graduated from Huron High School? Do you remember the year?
- [00:20:32] BILL HENDERSON: Seems like my son, I want to say, graduated in like '97 and my daughter probably graduated right around 1990. Yeah, right around '88 or '90. Yeah, my son graduated around '97, '98.
- [00:20:52] JOYCE HUNTER: You know Joetta Mial was principal at Huron High School for a number of years.
- [00:20:56] BILL HENDERSON: Oh yeah. Yeah
- [00:20:59] JOYCE HUNTER: I'm going to shift to another section here. When thinking back on your school years, what important social or historical events were taking place at that time? How did they personally affect you and your family?
- [00:21:13] BILL HENDERSON: Well, the Kennedy assassination was a big deal. I was I think 20 when that happened. Vietnam was a major deal because I went to Vietnam, but that was a major deal whether you went or not. That was a big thing. Putting a man on the moon was a big thing. But I was in Vietnam when that happened. Then of course, the push for civil rights in the south became a real big initiative and there were all kind of protests and things going on in that and later on I got involved. I'll tell you that story later on in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where three civil rights workers were killed.
- [00:22:05] JOYCE HUNTER: Why don't you go ahead. You can tell me about that now. Just keep going with that. Go ahead.
- [00:22:09] BILL HENDERSON: Well when I went to Navy flight training in the South, in Florida, Mississippi, and Texas, I had never really been South before. I had been in the Marine Corps a couple of years. I had been in Virginia, I had been in the Marine Corps a couple of years. But anyway, to make the long story short, I was in Meridian, Mississippi for six months for training. And Meridian is about 20, 25 miles from Philadelphia where the civil rights workers were killed. While I was there in 1966; the civil rights workers got killed I think it was in '64. I wasn't in that area, like I said, I wasn't there then. When they got killed, that base would shut down every day at noon and all the marines and sailors would go out in the neighboring farms and countryside looking for the bodies because they couldn't find the bodies for five or six weeks. And that made a whole lot of the locals really mad about the military. They finally found the body after, I think, six weeks, they found them buried in a dam or something like that near Philadelphia. So about when I went there, when I was there in '66, the base commander called me in one day and he said, I want you to wear your dress uniform and I'm going to give you a government car and a driver and I want you to go there's a Marine been wounded in Vietnam and the Marine Corps always sends an individual to a family to notify them about death or a wound. We want you to go to Philadelphia, Mississippi and notify this woman that her grandson has been shot. He's basically okay but he's been wounded. I thought holy cow, Philadelphia, Mississippi. Couple of days later I go to work, wear my uniform and have a driver and we take off for Philadelphia, Mississippi. It's like a two lane highway, rural area so we're driving down the road and about 10 miles out of Philadelphia there's a big billboard on the side of the road. On this billboard is a Ku Klux Klansmen on a horse. The horse is reared up in the air and the wind's blowing, his cape's flying in the air. And it said, "You're in Klan Country." I thought, here we go. About another five miles down the road, painted across the road in big 10' letters, "KKK," across both lanes of the highway road. So we finally get into town, it's just like all the movies, there's a little town square with a Confederate soldier on the horse right in the town square parks and all that right there. It was a Monday morning or Tuesday morning, not many people around. As we're riding through the town I tell the driver, "We're going to find this woman's house, this address I don't want to talk to anybody here except her." When we ride through this town square looking for, heading out to the rest of the town to find out where she lived, there's five or six older fellows sitting in a park here looking at this government car driving through with this white driver and this Black marine in the car. We go looking for her house, we can't find it, and half the streets don't have signs. It's kind of out in the country. So I think, "We got to go back and ask these guys for this address," which I didn't really want to do. Anyway, we go back and I told the driver, "Wait, don't take off without me." I get up and I approach these guys and I couldn't believe it. They were just as friendly, "Well son, who are you looking for?" I told them the name. "Oh, yeah, that's Sally Smith. Yeah. She lives out on so-and-so.'' They knew all about her grandson being in the Marine Corps. And they gave me directions to get there. But that was kind of like my whole experience in Mississippi. When I first got to Meridian, Mississippi, there was a big sign right downtown Meridian on a billboard on top of like a three-story building with a picture of Martin Luther King and a couple of other Black guys and white guys in a classroom and the sign said, "Martin Luther King in a communist training school." You still saw the Black and white drinking fountains signs. That was no longer in effect, but some of the signs were still up. Me and my wife couldn't find a place to live. All my classmates could. But we couldn't find an apartment. We ended up moving in with a Black woman, older woman, and it turned out to be really nice. But Mississippi, it was just weird. You'd go in a store, "Yes, sir, can I help you?" and all this. On the other hand, all these throwbacks, the segregation and unequal treatment. It was very weird. That was my thing with Philadelphia, Mississippi. [LAUGHTER]
- [00:27:08] JOYCE HUNTER: Thanks for sharing that. I wanted to ask you a little bit more about, when you said the gentlemen gave you directions, were they Caucasians or were they Black?
- [00:27:17] BILL HENDERSON: No. These were all white guys. I wouldn't have been hesitant to go up and ask some Black guys, but in Philadelphia, their reputation, I didn't know if I was going to get swung on or have me run out of there for even approaching them. But it turned out just totally different.
- [00:27:37] JOYCE HUNTER: How long were you there? How long did you live there?
- [00:27:40] BILL HENDERSON: I was there six months.
- [00:27:42] JOYCE HUNTER: Six months.
- [00:27:43] BILL HENDERSON: Then I went back to Florida for a month. Flight training in the Navy started out in Florida for about four months then you went to Mississippi for six months, back to Florida for a month and a half, then out to Texas for six or seven months, and then you were finished.
- [00:27:59] JOYCE HUNTER: The next set of questions you touched on in terms of your experience you had during the era of segregation. You talked about your experience where you and your wife could not get a place to stay or a room and you had to stay with a family. In other interviews we've had people share that when people came to visit here in the Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti areas, they couldn't stay at hotels and they had family stay with them. Anything you want to share about that even though you lived here? Did you have people come and stay in your homes?
- [00:28:36] BILL HENDERSON: Yeah. But, see back then, even if there had been hotels--and I don't remember a lot of hotels. Hotels were not prevalent anywhere like they are today, hotels and motels. But back in those times, we all had a lot less money than even people who are struggling today have comparably more money than people had then. People always pretty much stayed with family. So I'm not aware of that. I never was aware of that not being able to stay in hotels in Ann Arbor. I do know there were a couple of restaurants in Ann Arbor that didn't serve Black people. I was never involved with that, but I heard about. Sometimes I heard about it much later, I didn't even realize. But as far as the hotel thing, that was never an issue that I knew of. I'm not saying it didn't exist, I'm just saying I wasn't aware of it.
- [00:29:36] JOYCE HUNTER: I know I've heard other interviews where they shared that students that came here to go to the university oftentimes would stay with Black families, that kind of thing.
- [00:29:46] BILL HENDERSON: Yeah. I remember my grandmother lived on Catherine Street and there were several Black students, couple of football players, that stayed with Black families. But then there were some local guys here that played football at Michigan, a couple from out of town, from [INAUDIBLE] and they got apartments on campus. That was in like '61, '62, '63. But yeah, there were issues in Ann Arbor, I know that.
- [00:30:18] JOYCE HUNTER: One of the questions I was going to ask and you answered it really is, were there restaurants or eating places for Blacks? You mentioned that you heard that there were some restaurants that did not serve Blacks. You never experienced it, but you did hear about it.
- [00:30:32] BILL HENDERSON: Yeah. Of course, see also back then, I came from a lower income family. We weren't going to restaurants anyway.
- [00:30:39] JOYCE HUNTER: That's true. [LAUGHTER]
- [00:30:43] BILL HENDERSON: Like I say, I wasn't aware of it. I heard about it later on, this one particular restaurant right on Main Street did not serve Blacks. But that was what I heard. I guess there was a couple of others, but we weren't going to restaurants anyhow, so I never experienced that. I experienced that in Virginia when I was there, I went to a restaurant, with some white guys. We went to a restaurant right near this Marine base, and this young girl comes up very politely, and says, "I'm sorry, I can't serve you here." And the other guys were all from the North also, we hadn't even thought about it. So we all got up and left. And that was right outside of a Marine base in Quantico, Virginia, just south of DC.
- [00:31:32] JOYCE HUNTER: And you all were marines and in spite of that, she wouldn't serve you.
- [00:31:37] BILL HENDERSON: Oh yeah. She was very polite about it. She was young. She looked like she might have been a high school girl, young college student. But I was a young, I was 19 or 20 then. She was probably the same age or even a little younger. She said, "I'm sorry, I can't serve you here." We got up and left. So I've experienced some of that. And then of course, when I went through flight training, when I went to Marine Corps, I went to boot camp, there were about 500 or 600 Marines. This was for officer training. There were only two of us who were Black. When I first went in the Marine Corps, out of 20,000 officers in the Marine Corps, there were 43 Black officers. Marine Corps was the last service to desegregate, to integrate. When I got out of the Marine Corps after 10 years, they were up to about 80 Blacks. When I went through flight training, I was the only Black pilot at flight training I saw in a year and a half. Whenever I went to a squadron, I was the only Black pilot there. Or when I was in Vietnam, we had three squadrons, all together, and there two of us were Black. So I've seen this. When I joined the Michigan Air National Guard itself, I was the first Black pilot to join the unit out there itself in 1977. And some doors open, that door opened because I was Black. This Colonel I went to see said, "Oh yeah, we want to hire you, because we got pressured and find some Black pilots, and we looked at your credentials and you're qualified. So it's going to take a little while, but we're going to get you in, and he did. He became my godfather, and took me up through the ranks. So I've seen a lot of that. And even today, only one percent of military pilots are Black. One percent.
- [00:33:45] JOYCE HUNTER: So you mentioned several stages you went through, in terms of you did this so long, and that so long. Tell me anything that you think about, that you'd like to share that happened at each one of those stages, as you worked your way through your career?
- [00:34:07] BILL HENDERSON: When I signed up for Marine Corps, I was 17 years old, in my first year in college at Eastern. I end up going to the boot camp after my freshman year for six weeks, and then I went again after my junior year, and then soon as I graduated--and you had to graduate in four years--I graduated, I went in the Marine Corps for 10 years on active duty. That's when as a 21-year-old lieutenant, you have a lot of responsibilities right off the bat. You were assigned to units, you've got 20 or 30 people working for you, and just different things. Being always a novelty, because I would be the only Black person there, I had many experiences in that situation. Then as I became more senior, and moved up the ranks, still very few Blacks in my officers. Things started to change, I went to General Motors, and was hired there, I was the second Black pilot that they had hired. As I moved up through the ranks there, a lot of good experiences, some prejudice like anywhere. But my thing was I didn't care about a person's prejudices as long as they didn't display them to me. I wasn't put on this planet to convince anybody to treat people equally or anything else, so I really didn't care what people's racial thoughts were as long as they didn't affect me negatively. Well, when I went through training as a pilot, a lot of times you'd be in a classroom of 30 people, or maybe 200 people. Now, you got to remember these are all-- The Marine Corps was primarily a Southern outfit. It was harder than the Navy. And a lot of times the instructor would look around and wouldn't see me, especially with a class of 200 people, and tell a Black joke. Of course, my classmates, there were about 15 or 20 of us were together for the whole year and a half, we became very close socially and everything else. You would you just see them seething and getting upset, and somebody would eventually go up to that instructor and say, during a break or something, inform them that there was a Black person in the room, and then they'll come over and apologize. "Oh I'm sorry I said-- I didn't mean it." So I went through that three or four times, probably more than that three or four times, probably 10 or 12, 15 times. I remember telling people about that afterwards, later in life. "Well, why didn't you say something?" Because when you're a flight student, every time you fly is an exam, every day that you fly is an exam. If you fail that exam, that's called the down. If you get two downs, you're out of the program. So let's say I went and told a commanding officer, that this file with this instructor use the N word or whatever. Now he gets in trouble. My next flight is going to be with one of his buddies, and guess what? You just got it down, you did everything right on that flight except "I just don't think you did this right," so now you got a down. You get another down, you're gone. All you can do in a situation like that, until you get those gold wings on your chest, is keep your mouth shut. I had those experiences, but once I got my wings, that all changed. So there was those experiences. One of my greatest achievements in life I think was becoming a Naval pilot. That's something that has about a 50 percent washout rate. They're getting very few minorities. They finally got a Black woman fighter pilot. I'm still connected with the military in some ways, I saw this young lady, Naval Academy graduate just got her wings as a fighter pilot. Now, she's going to catch hell, I can guarantee she's already caught hell. She's going to catch a lot more when she goes to the fleet, because she's a woman and because she's Black. But she'll get through it. She's had to be tough to get this far, but she's going to have some issues being accepted. So I'm kind of rambling here.
- [00:38:35] JOYCE HUNTER: No you're fine, I'm following you, go ahead.
- [00:38:37] BILL HENDERSON: That's that was my big thing. Then after I got to General Motors, and I stayed in the Guard at Selfridge, my goal at Selfridge was to get 20 years in the military and retire, because I'd already had 10 in active duty, and I didn't want to throw that away. My goal was to make Lieutenant Colonel and retire at 20 years. Well, that individual, that Colonel who became a General who became my godfather and a couple of other senior officers became my mentor, and pulled me up the chain through the Guard to a higher rank. At General Motors, I'd been there about 15 years, and I get called in one day, and out of the clear blue sky, they told me they wanted to make me the Chief Pilot, which is, we had 35, 40 pilots, so I would become the supervisor of all the pilots, which was a big deal. I had to ask for a couple of weeks to think about it, and I went on vacation and I remember sitting in a park out in Wyoming on a park bench. My wife was walking around shopping, and I sat there and I was talking to God and asked him not to give me something I couldn't handle, and should I do it. After that conversation, and going back home, I accepted the job. So I became the Chief Pilot at General Motors in the same month that I got promoted to General in the International Guard, which was really strange. My success, even with some of the racial issues, I tell people, my success is based on, first of all, God, people that I worked for who've mentored me and brought me along, people who I worked with, most of them, different teams made me look good, we made each other look good, people who worked for me made me look good in most cases right up until the day I retired, and then last on the list is me. I've been very fortunate, in many ways. In Vietnam, I didn't get hurt, flew 125 missions, and not only did I fly as a combat pilot in Vietnam, after seven months, I was sent with the infantry on the ground to be forward air controller. So I saw the war from the air, and on the ground. That second one with the infantry, that's not a good deal.
- [00:41:27] JOYCE HUNTER: That was what I was going to go back to for a minute, about Vietnam. You flew missions, you said 125?
- [00:41:34] BILL HENDERSON: Yeah, 125 missions, yeah. [OVERLAPPING] Most guys come back with about 250. But if I had stayed flying the whole year, it's a 13-month tour, if I'd have flown the whole time I would've had 200, 250, maybe 300 missions, but after six months I was sent with the infantry. So my last six months in Vietnam, I was on the ground. As a forward air controller, each Marine infantry battalion has a pilot with it that controls all the air, calls in the airstrikes, calls in the helicopters, calls in the helicopters for medivac and resupply. We call it the grunts. When you're on the ground, you're a grunt. [LAUGHTER]
- [00:42:24] JOYCE HUNTER: You've really provided a quite a service for the country and awesome career. I did want to ask in terms of Vietnam, have you been back to Vietnam?
- [00:42:34] BILL HENDERSON: I was going to go back about 10 years ago, and in fact I was going to go back with David Moody. David Moody is my nephew by marriage, he married my niece, and he's a construction business man down in Atlanta, lived here for a long time. We were going to go back together. But about the time I was really getting thinking about going back, I talked to some guys who had been back, and they came back, said, well, they didn't really recommend it because at that point, Vietnam, all the areas had become like the United States with industrial parks, hotels, it had really come an extremely long way. They really liked Americans over there, and it was like going to Los Angeles instead of going back to the Vietnam that I knew. So I never made it. Long story short, we never made it. Everybody I talked to now says Vietnam. Now they are ally against China right now, Vietnam. And Ford's got a factory over there. Nike makes lot of shoes over there. There's a lot of businesses there. Now they're our best buddy.
- [00:43:45] JOYCE HUNTER: I will share with you that I was actually there in 2018.
- [00:43:49] BILL HENDERSON: Oh, okay. What did you think?
- [00:43:52] JOYCE HUNTER: Well, it was very nice where we went. It was not rugged.
- [00:43:59] BILL HENDERSON: Yeah.
- [00:44:00] JOYCE HUNTER: It was very nice.
- [00:44:02] BILL HENDERSON: It's a beautiful country. South China Sea, the beaches, and as a pilot flying over you see the waterfalls back in the forest, the jungle. It was a beautiful country. But we tore it up. Big time.
- [00:44:17] JOYCE HUNTER: Where we stayed it was very nice. It was right on the water. It was beautiful. We had a chance to do private tours.
- [00:44:24] BILL HENDERSON: Yeah.
- [00:44:25] JOYCE HUNTER: It was really nice.
- [00:44:25] BILL HENDERSON: [OVERLAPPING] Did you go up to Hanoi or Saigon?
- [00:44:30] JOYCE HUNTER: I went to Da Nang.
- [00:44:33] BILL HENDERSON: Yes. That's where I was stationed, at Da Nang.
- [00:44:35] JOYCE HUNTER: Da Nang. That's when I read your paper. I meant to say that to you. That's where I was at. That's where I stayed.
- [00:44:42] BILL HENDERSON: Yeah. That was the headquarters where I was out of most of the time, right there at Da Nang. [LAUGHTER]
- [00:44:49] JOYCE HUNTER: That's where I stayed for about a week.
- [00:44:52] BILL HENDERSON: Oh, okay.
- [00:44:54] JOYCE HUNTER: I do want to ask you, in your bio, it says Major General. I was trying to understand that. You're a Major and a General or how does that work?
- [00:45:06] BILL HENDERSON: No. There's ten ranks. You start as a Second Lieutenant, then you become a First Lieutenant, then you become a Captain, then you become a Major, then you become a Lieutenant Colonel, then you become a Colonel. Now you start in the General rank. Become a Brigadier General, which is one star. You become a Major General which is two stars, Lieutenant General, which is three stars, and General is four stars.
- [00:45:48] JOYCE HUNTER: Okay.
- [00:45:49] BILL HENDERSON: Major General is the second highest General.
- [00:45:54] JOYCE HUNTER: Congratulations.
- [00:45:55] BILL HENDERSON: Then there's two General levels above that. Colin Powell was a four-star General, just a General.
- [00:46:01] JOYCE HUNTER: Okay. All right. That helped me understand. Well congratulations. I'm going to take us to marriage and family life.
- [00:46:08] BILL HENDERSON: Yeah.
- [00:46:09] JOYCE HUNTER: I'd like you to tell me a little bit about your marriage and family life. First, tell me about your spouse. Where you met--
- [00:46:17] BILL HENDERSON: Well, first of all, I've been married twice.
- [00:46:20] JOYCE HUNTER: Okay. That's okay.
- [00:46:21] JOYCE HUNTER: Talk about the second one, the final one, I should say.
- [00:46:25] BILL HENDERSON: Okay. Well, the first one, she's still lives in town. We have a decent relationship.
- [00:46:31] JOYCE HUNTER: Okay.
- [00:46:32] BILL HENDERSON: But when I got married, after I went in the Marine Corps, I was 23 when I got married. We stayed married till I got out 10 years later, and then we eventually separated. But my second wife, she was from Detroit, went to Eastern, a school teacher. She's an AKA, a special ed teacher in Wayne-Westland system. She's retired now. But anyway, I met her at a party locally at a Holiday Inn back in 1985, I think. We started seeing each other, going together about five years. Maybe even before '85. We got married in 1990. I had two kids by my first wife, and like I said they're both grown now. Didn't have any kids with my second wife. She's really a good person. Well, she was special ed teacher at Wayne-Westland, then she became a special ed supervisor and going to different schools testing kids. When she retired, she went to work for Eastern part-time with student teachers in special ed. We've been married about 32 years.
- [00:47:46] JOYCE HUNTER: What is her name?
- [00:47:51] BILL HENDERSON: Francine.
- [00:47:52] JOYCE HUNTER: Francine.
- [00:47:54] BILL HENDERSON: She's in the local AKA, not very active graduate chapter. She just got into a couple of years ago. But she was an AKA when she was pledged back when she was at Eastern. She came out of Eastern in like '72 I think, something like that.
- [00:48:07] JOYCE HUNTER: I should know her because I'm an AKA as well.
- [00:48:09] BILL HENDERSON: Yeah. She just became active about two or three years ago.
- [00:48:14] JOYCE HUNTER: I think I might know who she is, but go ahead.
- [00:48:17] BILL HENDERSON: Anyway, like I said, we got married in 1990, so that's about 32 years that went pretty fast. She came from a big family in Detroit, nine brothers and sisters, ten of them all together and very religious family. So it's worked out real well. My first marriage, I messed it up. Being a pilot and being a military officer went to my head. I was doing a lot of things I shouldn't be doing and it cost me the marriage. That was my fault. I'll give you an example. When I was 24, 25 years old I was stationed in Buford, South Carolina before I went to Vietnam. Flying F-4s, 25 years old. We would shut down training at two o'clock Friday afternoon, and I could take a plane, and a student and another airplane, I could take two F-4s and go anywhere in the country I wanted as long as I was back by Sunday night. We'd take off out of Buford and get a wingman, a student usually, in two F-4s, we'd head to California. I used to be stationed in California and I wanted to be back there, but instead I was in South Carolina. We'd take off and stop in Oklahoma or Texas to refuel, take off and be in California four or five hours later and it'd be about four o'clock in the afternoon. We got there, we'd go up, go to the officers' club and have a party and maybe go into LA which is like 30 minutes away. I knew people up there and we might stay there for the weekend and Sunday afternoon come back. As long as we had the airplanes back by Sunday night. Sometimes we'd wake up on Saturday--get there Friday, party Friday night, wake up Saturday--hey, let's go into Florida. Take off, go down to Miami or Tampa Bay. So I was flying, at 25 years old, responsible for two multimillion dollar jets and three other people. When you're that age with that kind of power, it went to my head. Maybe it didn't go to everybody else's head, but it went to my head. Pretty soon, you really start thinking you are [INAUDIBLE]. And people, "Oh, he's a pilot." Or you pull into a base and, "Oh, look at that, a Black pilot." Pretty soon you start thinking you are somebody. Well, I did, and it ended up costing me a marriage. Too much party time. [LAUGHTER]
- [00:51:00] JOYCE HUNTER: Thank you for your candor about that. I appreciate that. I want to move now to historical and social events. So tell me how it is for you to live in this community. How has it been for you to live in this community?
- [00:51:21] BILL HENDERSON: Well, it's great living here. When I say great, I've been in all 50 states and all of them more than once. I lived in California, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Texas, Florida and some time in Georgia. This is home. With all the family around--or used to be around, not so much anymore--it's really good living. It's great living here. Now, like I said, I go to Arizona every winter for a month and a half. That'd be nice. I've often thought about living out there, but at this point, I'm not moving out of Michigan. Here's where my friends, family, all the guys I went to school with and all that. It's good living here, but we still do a lot of traveling, just not Arizona. We go out West in the summertime. I drive everywhere now. People are like, "Why are you driving?" I said, "Because I've flown over this country a thousand times and I want to see what's on the ground." And so I drive pretty much almost everywhere. Don't do much flying on the airlines, but that will probably start to increase here soon. But no, living here is good. I think there are a lot of opportunities here. Friends are here, family is here. The relationships amongst the groups are as good as probably anywhere else. They're not great or not perfect, especially now with what's going on in the world, but I'm very positive on this area.
- [00:53:01] JOYCE HUNTER: Let me ask you, I'm going to back up just a little bit, about your children and their school experience. How was their school experience here growing up?
- [00:53:09] BILL HENDERSON: Well, my son was real smart. I used to pay him for his grades if he got B's and A's. He told me later on it made a big difference to him. Because when he got into pharmacy school, I was shocked. I didn't know that he was that good in the sciences and when he told me that he was majoring in chemistry and biology, I thought whoa. Anyway, so he did real well. My daughter is challenged educationally. She's a good person, but educationally, lacking. She's always had mediocre jobs. I'm happy I got a good daughter and she's a very nice person. Sometimes I think she might be too nice, if that's possible. But their experience, what I found in the school system, it happened to me when I went to school. They had the college prep, university prep, general ed, and all those preps coming out of junior high. They steered the Black kids to general ed. They steered me to general ed. I said "No, I want to do the college prep." Well, yeah, but just try the general. Well, a couple of us insisted on doing the college prep and we did the college prep. I mean, they didn't stop us. My opinion is, in the Ann Arbor school system, they have everything to offer. This is just an opinion. My thing is that, "Hey, it's here for you. If you can qualify and you want to take it, go ahead. But if you don't, if you just want to pass and go through, we'll pass you right along." I'm not sure if they encourage minorities as much as they should. I don't know that. I know they actually discouraged it back when I was going to school. My two kids, my daughter was not qualified for college level courses and my son was and he made it on through.
- [00:55:09] JOYCE HUNTER: We've heard that about having low expectations, oftentimes for Black children as opposed as higher expectations.
- [00:55:18] BILL HENDERSON: Oh yeah, I believe that. Yeah, I know that was the case when I went through. I'll give you an example. I took an advanced algebra class and got an E in that class. That teacher never one time, when I was flunking all the tests, never one time said, "Hey son, we need to talk," or "What's your problem" or "Can I help?" Never said a word a word to me. Almost enjoyed handing me that paper with an E on it. Never said a word to me. But that was one bad experience. But I made up for it.
- [00:55:58] JOYCE HUNTER: But it sticks with you. Those experiences stick with you.
- [00:56:01] BILL HENDERSON: Yeah.
- [00:56:02] JOYCE HUNTER: You did make up for it, but some students don't.
- [00:56:08] BILL HENDERSON: Right. Exactly. To me, I think an Ann Arbor education is probably, the school system is probably one of the best in the country, or right up there. But they leave it up to you. If you don't want to do nothing, we'll pass you right on through and you'll end up doing nothing. Whereas I think they encourage other folks a little more to the higher ed stuff. That's my opinion.
- [00:56:34] JOYCE HUNTER: Others have that same opinion. Some others do. You probably answered this question but I'm going to pose it to you again. When thinking back on your entire life, what important historical events had the greatest impact?
- [00:56:52] BILL HENDERSON: I think Kennedy's assassination and Martin Luther King's assassination and the integration of the South that started taking place. That had the greatest impact. I was just down at the Legacy Museum in Montgomery. In fact, I'm going down there again next week. Everybody ought to see that Legacy Museum. I've never seen anything like that in my life. Montgomery in Alabama was the hotbed of segregation in the 50s and 60s and I know there are still racial problems there, but they got a Black mayor now, that museum has opened up and probably 75 percent of the people that go through that museum are white tourists and locals, and most of them come out of that museum with a tear in their eye. That museum is unbelievable. It's worth a special trip to go to Montgomery just to see that museum and everything else that has happened down here. So those things I would say, the integration, the assassination of Martin Luther King and Kennedy and all that whole integration of the South were the big things. It's kind of sad to see it going back the other way now. I think it's getting dangerous as a matter of fact. I've been to the African American Museum in DC, which is much bigger than the one in Montgomery, but the one in Montgomery, that's also a must-see. It's an eye-opener, a real eye-opener about the South and the segregation of those days and how bad things really were.
- [00:58:36] JOYCE HUNTER: Thanks for sharing that. When you and I spoke by phone, you mentioned that so I certainly need to schedule a time to go and see it. But I have been to the national one in DC.
- [00:58:49] BILL HENDERSON: The DC one is a whole lot bigger, but the one in Montgomery is not small, but it is not even close to the size. But I was very impressed by it, big time. That's the biggest reason I'm going back to the family reunion, I want to go back to that museum.
- [00:59:07] JOYCE HUNTER: When thinking back over your entire life, what are you most proud of? I think you mentioned that earlier, but I'll ask you the question again.
- [00:59:15] BILL HENDERSON: Yeah. Becoming a naval aviator. If I had studied in college like I studied when I went through that flight training, I might have been a brain surgeon. No, just kidding. But I mean, like I say, every day was an exam and I just I spent hours studying at night and Saturdays and Sundays, five hours a day and on Saturday and Sunday in the library in that first five or six months. Every night, five or six hours a night studying. I never did that in college, but to succeed in that program, I had to do that. So I'd consider that more like a master's or a PhD. [LAUGHTER] My opinion.
- [01:00:05] JOYCE HUNTER: It sounds like it to me [LAUGHTER] as well.
- [01:00:10] BILL HENDERSON: It was tough, it was very tough. So that was my biggest accomplishment that I would say, becoming a Navy pilot.
- [01:00:17] JOYCE HUNTER: That's certainly quite an accomplishment. What would you say has changed the most from the time you were a young person to now?
- [01:00:27] BILL HENDERSON: Affluence in this country. Even people who are on the lower socioeconomic scale, people who we would consider poor people, have the cell phones and everything that almost everybody has. Then people like, well, would be equivalent to my family back in the day, everybody's got the phones, the clothes, the designer stuff, the hair, and the nails and a lot of superficial stuff, obviously. But there just seems to be a whole lot more affluence even amongst people who are on the lower end of the scale. That's a big thing. And the other thing is the lawlessness in the country. And the lawlessness is based on lack of respect and greed and poverty and you name it. There's a lot of reasons for it, but I think the country is a whole lot more lawless than it used to be. A lot more. It seems to be it's starting to become more racial than it has been. Not that racism ever went away totally, not even close to totally, but I mean it's getting bad. I really fear for this country when you start having politicians talking about "This could be the end of democracy as you know it," then you need to be paying attention. I think we're very close to this gun issue, everybody wants to be a cowboy. A lot of my veterans friends, a lot of them are fairly right-wing guys, and they love these guns. I have to tell people sometimes, "Just because you got a gun doesn't mean you can't be shot." Because we had 57,000 people carrying guns in Vietnam that got killed, so a gun doesn't make you bulletproof. Some of these people act like they got a gun, "Hey, look at me." I was saying the other day--I was being facetious--I said, "If I was the president, I'd issue everybody a pair of cowboy boots and two six-guns. Now everybody can be a badass."
- [01:02:44] JOYCE HUNTER: I have one final question for you. What advice would you give to the younger generation?
- [01:02:52] BILL HENDERSON: They're going to have it a lot tougher and the competition that they're going to face--it's tough now, and it's going to get tougher because they're going to be competing with people all over the world, not just here in United States. If you're not proficient technologically and literally or reading-wise and all and don't have a good education or a good trade, you're going to be in serious trouble and you better be ready. When I came along, and we came along, you could go to work for a company and be there 30, 35 years with a pension retirement. Those days are over. You're going to be competing, in fact, five or six, seven different jobs before you're retirement age, so you better be ready to compete and keep your skills going. You're not going to be able to relax as many of us were going, "Hey, I got my General Motors, I'm here now, I'm good for 30 years unless I do something really stupid." Those days are over and you're going to have to finance your own future. Pensions are out the window, so whatever you need to start thinking about being competitive and then you need to start thinking about putting money away at an early age because what you put away today is going to be your pension tomorrow. And if you don't put it away on a consistent basis, you're not going to have that pension tomorrow. I think they got it tougher. There's a lot of competition and the people who really like competition, they'll thrive on it. But everybody doesn't want to be competing for 35 or 40 years. So I think they got to have an education and it doesn't have to be college. The trades right now--I deal with a lot of industrialists--and you can make a whole lot of money going to some of these trade schools now than you can with a bunch of college degrees. One of the highest paying jobs, the jobs that these guys are short on now, is a welder. Welders make a ton of money, and they can't find them. They need to readjust this idea you just got to go to college. Well, now that you're going to come out and make 35 or 40,000 a year then you can be a carpenter, a plumber, or electrician, or an airplane--I'll tell you right now, the field to be in is a pilot or an airplane mechanic. It was just on the news last night, I knew this all along, there's going to be a shortage of pilots for the next 8-10 years of 14,000 pilots a year. The same with technicians. There's a trade school right down the road on Michigan Ave and Haggerty. You go to that trade school for 24 months, become an airplane mechanic and you come out of there, and Delta hires you immediately. Delta has pensions, they have high pay, they have a union, they have bonuses. Can't beat it. A friend of mine just finished there about two years ago. You've got United, Delta, Spirit and JetBlue, [OVERLAPPING] they're waiting for you. The airlines last night announced they're used to having a college degree to become a pilot, they're doing away with that. They just announced they're doing away with the college degree requirement. We had the same thing at General Motors you had to have a college degree. Well now, that's out the window. They're cutting back on the number of hours you have to become a pilot, which is not a good deal by any stretch of imagination, but they're hurting and they pay a lot of money. Airline pilots now that are flying internationally can make $350,000 a year and fly maybe eight days a month.
- [01:06:49] JOYCE HUNTER: Well, certainly the advice of students to get some education beyond high school and that could be technical.
- [01:06:57] BILL HENDERSON: Oh, yeah.
- [01:06:59] JOYCE HUNTER: I sit on a home building board and so I'm very familiar with that, so that's some good advice. [OVERLAPPING]
- [01:07:05] BILL HENDERSON: I've got a nephew or a niece who lives in Germany, excuse me, she's my brother-in-law's daughter, and he's been living in Germany for 30 years. In Germany, I think after the sixth or seventh grade, you test and you either go a college route or you go a trade route. So they have all these trade schools. And Bob Lutz was a big-time auto industry guy and I've had a lot of dealings with him. He was vice president at Chrysler, chairman at GM, and lives out here in Pleasant Lake near Saline. I was at a dinner a couple of years ago and he was speaking and he was talking about the need for trades. He's from Switzerland to begin with, he was a foreigner to begin with, but he was saying that we need people to go into the trade schools. Everybody going into college doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Trade schools or we need the German educational system in this country where you go to trade schools at an early age because everybody is not cut out to be a college student.
- [01:08:14] JOYCE HUNTER: Bill this has been a wonderful interview. I want to thank you for doing it.
July 20, 2022
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