Operation Song post featuring Sam French and his song "I Fly."

In his song, “I Fly”, Vietnam Veteran Sam French sings about what he felt when looking down at farmers from his Chinook in Vietnam.

Army Veteran Sam French co-wrote “I Fly” with Don Goodman and Matt Dame. The song opens with French remembering that, like most males of his generation, he was drafted into service. French was just 21 in 1969, and he “wanted to have a choice, didn’t want to be one of those front line-boys.”

French describes the burden of working as a flight engineer in wartime. He describes flying over the jungle looking down, trying “not to see the family I left in Indiana when I pushed the barrels out the door.” He admits that he is now “afraid to go to sleep at night because every time I close my eyes, I fly.”

His wife, Marlene, spoke about the timing of her husband’s involvement with #OperationSong. French had suffered a heart attack, requiring open-heart surgery. Marlene said #OperationSong was the best distraction for her husband’s recovery and that it was a reason for him to keep going.

“If the Veteran is putting his story into a song, I feel like he wants to open up about it,” she said. “Whether he already has, or whether this is his first time, finally just coming out and saying, ‘This is how it was, this is what happened.’”

“I Fly” is a plainspoken remembrance of war’s casualties. Toward the end of the song,French’s tone changes. He explains how the image of his plane, and him pushing out barrels, was difficult for him to talk about, that he’ll always struggle with his memories of Vietnam and the hardships that came with it. But, as it closes, he confides: “Vietnam was long ago. I’m seventy-one and feeling old. Ain’t many years left in this life, but if my country needed me to fight, I’d fly.”

Operation Song

Operation Song is a non-profit based in Nashville, Tenn., that partners professional songwriters with Veterans, active military, and their families to help them tell their stories through song. Since 2012, they have written over 600 songs with WWII Veterans to those currently serving. They hold weekly workshops in Middle Tennessee and sponsor events and group retreats throughout the U.S. Those who serve need no musical background, only the desire to tell their story. If you are interested in learning more about Operation Song or hearing more songs, please visit: http://www.operationsong.org/.

Writer: Rachel Heimann

Editor: Kaden Kessel

Graphics: Michelle Zischke

Share this story

Published on Feb. 20, 2020

Estimated reading time is 2.2 min.

Views to date: 100


  1. Eric Toms February 27, 2020 at 11:25 pm

    I’d fly with you Sam French.

    Semper Fidelus,


  2. Harold Payne February 21, 2020 at 9:32 am

    I wake up every morning to start my day. Start my Breathing Exercise. If there is anything I Got from my Doctor at the VA, is to Breathe. I knew I had something going on but never thought I had PTSD. Over a period of time The Doctor Got it out of me. I could go on and on, The one Thing I Tell Everyone I talk to, is if you start to have your demons in your head coming at you and you don’t know what’s happening GO GET HELP NOW. She got stuff out of me I-never knew I Had.
    It works when you get it out. Don’t feel that what you went through is no where near what Some other people went through. We all handle it differently.

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • Bernie Webber led one of the greatest Coast Guard rescues in history that was later chronicled in the book and movie, “The Finest Hours.”

  • As the events of 9/11 unfolded, Marine Veteran Robert Darling served as a liaison between the Pentagon and Vice President Dick Cheney in the underground bunker at the White House.

  • NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon. He was also a seasoned Naval aviator.