On Wednesday, April 25, 2018, over four decades after the end of the Vietnam War, a new memorial was dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery. The new monument is located near the Tomb of The Unknowns.
This brief video by the Army Times gives a brief report on the event. A very large crowd was present to hear speeches from both military dignitaries and a Representative from Congress who was instrumental in getting this new memorial constructed on those hallowed grounds.
The new monument is dedicated to the 5,000 helicopter pilots and crew members who gave their last full measure in service to their brethren during the Vietnam War.
This is a very important monument for all Vietnam Veterans. Vietnam was a true helicopter war in the sense that those pilots were not only our principle transport into and out of the bush, but they kept us supplied, they often had to come in under intense enemy fire to medivac our wounded brothers out of the field and back to the necessary, more sophisticated medical care.
Because of the skill of these helicopter pilots, more wounded warriors were able to survive their wounds than in any war in our history up to that point. Many of these pilots were our close-in air support, spotting and attacking the enemy from above when we were in the thick of it with VC, or NVA forces.
These pilots were among the bravest of warriors in Vietnam. They were legendary for their courage and determination to keep the enemy off of us, or to come into the middle of it and resupply us and to retrieve our wounded and KIA brothers, or to get us the hell out of harm’s way. Some did very important and dangerous work in search and rescue missions to find downed pilots.
In every case, they did not hesitate to do what was necessary to help the troops on the ground.
They, more often than not, would absorb tremendous amounts of rifle, machine gun, and rocket fire as they came to our aid. They were our angels in the sky.
There is not a single Vietnam veteran that does not stop and look up when he hears helicopter rotor blades overhead. We all remember the distinctive “wop-wop-wop-wop” sounds that the Hueys and the heavier, deeper sounds that the 46s or the 47s made in the distance coming to our aid or to get us out of the bush.
There was no more welcome sound.
It would take a few books to recount and remember the heroism and commitment of all of the helicopter pilots and crews. For example, one could be written about door gunners alone. They were fiercely brave. They were always a target for the enemy, but they poured out defensive and offensive fire for us with a steely courage.
We who were the beneficiaries of the efforts of these helicopter pilots and crews members will never forget what they meant to us and what they did for us. That they have their own monument and memorial in such an august and hallowed place at Arlington National Cemetery means everything to them and to we who owe our lives to them. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten.
The Veterans Site humbly offers its deepest respect and thanks to all who served as helicopter pilots and crew members from 1961 to 1975 in Vietnam. You were often the very slim difference between life and death for the troops on the ground. We honor those Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps helicopter pilots and crew members with our sincere pledge to never forget.
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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.