Joe “Ragman” Tarnovsky
240th Assault Helicopter Company
July ‘69 to October ‘70
Republic of South Vietnam
Joe got the name “Ragman” because he had more oil and grease on his flight uniform than in his ‘Mad Dog’ Gunship. His favorite pilot, Mad Dog 16, Mike Forrester, gave Joe that name one day and still calls him that today.
One day Joe came down to the flight line and Mike said, “Ragman, when I was a kid we had a guy come through our town and he would holler ‘paper, rags’ and would collect them. Everyone called him ‘Joe s__t the ragman’ and that’s your new nickname.”
Mad Dog and Ragman were in and out of touch over the years but were reunited for good in 1994 and vowed never to lose contact again. Joe makes annual trips to see Mike in Florida and the Rum flows, the war stories get better and so do the lies they tell!