Vietnam Helicopter Pilot and Aircrew Monument Dedication April 18, 2018 by CAPT Bill Hughes, USN-(Ret.)
Scroll down to bottom for the C-Span Video of the ceremony.
On Wednesday, April 18, I attended the dedication of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots and Aircrew Monument dedication ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. The Monument honors the 5,000 helicopter pilots and aircrew from all U.S. military services who lost their lives during the Vietnam War.
There were 3,000 Vietnam-era helicopter pilots and aircrew and their family members attending the event at the cemetery’s amphitheater. Many attendees sat under company and battalion pennants that were posted throughout the audience. Nearly 300 participants identified themselves as members of Vietnam-era Gold Star families.
Principal speakers included Mike Sheuerman, president of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association (VHPA); Army MG Carl McNair, first commander of the U.S. Army Aviation Branch; Ms. Julie Kink, speaking on behalf of the Gold Star families; and Congressman Mark Amodei of Nevada who collaborated with VHPA over a four-year period to introduce the legislation that resulted in the monument being placed at Arlington National Cemetery. Ms. Kirk explained how the distinctive Huey sound has always reminded her and many Vietnam veterans that relief and brotherhood were close at hand.
Following formal remarks, attendees processed to the site of the newly-installed monument where several advocate groups placed memorial wreaths. Following a closing flyover by four Huey helicopters, attendees moved to a reception and Huey display at the Women in the Military for America Memorial near the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery.
The Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association and associated Vietnam Helicopter Aircrew Association, the organizations that spearheaded the effort to erect the monument, represent and advocate for all Vietnam-era helicopter warriors and represent all branches of the military. While U.S. Army Huey pilots constituted the largest group of attendees, several U.S. Navy and Marine Corps helicopter pilots and aircrewmen represented the HAL-3 Seawolves Association and other helicopter squadrons that deployed during the Vietnam War.
CAPT Bill Hughes, USN-(Ret.)
Caption 1: 3,000 Vietnam-era helicopter pilots and aircrew and their families attended the dedication ceremony at the Arlington National Cemetery amphitheater. Nearly 300 attendees are members of Gold Star families
Caption 2. HAL-3 Seawolves Ray Waits (l.) and Ian Refo joined the reception at the Women in the Military of America Memorial. Ian is president of the Seawolves Association. Ray’s son is a U.S. Marine flying Ospreys at MCAS New River, NC.
Caption3. The monument, located near the Arlington National Cemetery amphitheater, honors the 5,000 helicopter pilots and aircrew from all military services who lost their lives during the Vietnam War.
Caption4: HAL-3 Seawolf “Wes” Weseleskey (r.) was awarded the Navy Cross in 1968. He went on to command HC-6 at NAS Norfolk and USS Guam.
Caption5: Seawolf Bob Touhey (l.) and Bill Hughes of HS-2 were among early arrivals at the dedication ceremony. Bob was an OinC of HAL-3 Det 9. During several WESTPAC deployments, HS-2 conducted overland CSAR missions, flew U.S. and NVA negotiators into Haiphong in preparation for the U.S. POW release, and guided South Vietnamese aircraft to available landing platforms during the April 1975 evacuation of Saigon.