Memorial for helicopter crews at Arlington

| April 23, 2018

The Army Times reports that a memorial to helicopter crews of the Vietnam War was dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery last week.

As the crowd gathered around the monument, “Taps” rang out among the cemetery, and the thudding of distant helicopters caused attendees to wonder out loud if Hueys were about to appear on the horizon.

Over the tops of the trees in Arlington, four helicopters from Marine Helicopter Squadron One — which transports the president — flew over as the crowd clapped and cheered.

“This [monument] is something we’ve been waiting for a long, long time,” said Michael Mikulan, who flew helicopters in Vietnam in 1969. “For many of us here who are 70 and above, this is it. We couldn’t ask for anything more.”

My uncle was a helicopter crew chief in Vietnam 1966 – 1967 and he came home to us safely. 2,197 helicopter pilots and 2,717 crew members were killed

“Vietnam soldiers were rejected by society when they came back. They were blamed for the war along with the politicians who created policy,” he told Army Times. “All of the [troops] in the modern era, for at least the last 15 years … have benefited because now people are able to see a warrior and know it’s okay to hate war but love the warrior.”

Category: We Remember

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  1. In The Mailbox: 04.23.18 : The Other McCain | April 23, 2018
  1. Peter the Bubblehead says:

    Now the same needs to be done for the crew of the USS Thresher and the legacy they left behind!

    Support the USS Thresher Arlington project!

  2. sj says:

    Well deserved. Crews had balls of steel to sit in a hot LZ transferring troops. Magnet drawing fire.

    • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

      Not just that, I’ve read many a glowing account of the balls that Medevac Crews had when they’d keep on evacuating the wounded while taking fire.

    • rgr769 says:

      Even if one has flown in them, you never realize how vulnerable they are to small arms fire until you watch the AK rounds come up through the aluminum floor plates and go out through the ceiling of the Huey.

      • timactual says:

        A friend of mine was a gunner on a Chinook (Navy). He calls those beams of sunshine that suddenly appeared around him a “laser light show”.

      • Claw says:

        That’s why we sat on our chicken plates instead of wearing them on our chests./smile

        When you’re 20 and invincible, your OD T-Shirt will stop anything on a horizontal trajectory, vertical not so much.

        • rgr769 says:

          I had two bullet holes in the canvas seat where my ass was parked about two minutes before the bottom of the bird was shot up when we flew over the bad guys at about 75 feet AGL. But when you are a passenger, no one gives you a chicken plate.

  3. Sparks says:

    I’m very happy this has finally been done.

  4. Mick says:

    Glad to see this.

    When I first got to the FMF, there were still quite a few Marine helicopter pilots and aircrewmen around who had flown in Vietnam.

    Some of them had very harrowing (and verified) experiences while flying over there.

  5. 26Limabeans says:

    I can make the sound of a UH-1 in my head by rubbing my teeth back and forth.
    Or just remember it.

    • timactual says:

      I swear I remember the air vibrating as Hueys approached; a unique sound.

      Back when I was young and stupid I loved me that airmobile stuff. Even on CH-34s, as bad as they were.

      • Joseph Williams says:

        As a UH34D crew chief I resent that remark Tim. We were picking up the extra missions when the 46s were down for falling apart.We pulled the Medivac duties because of the smaller needs of a LZ and generally take more hits and still RTB.My squadron lost 23 Aircrewmen while I was with HMM-362 and I flew with them all. Yes, we would into LZs so bad that we cloud not spoil our flight suits. Do it again YES. Joe

        • timactual says:

          The CH-34 started it! I was an RTO in Germany and we did some airmobile training on CH-34s. As you know, the door is a little small, and every time I tried to exit, the radio on my back would hit the top of the doorway and knock me on my butt. After it bounced of my helmet.

    • rgr769 says:

      That used to be the sweetest sound ever to be heard when you have been in the bush for 2 weeks and a flight of Hueys is coming to pick up your company and fly you back to hot showers, hot food, and lousy barely cool beer.

      • timactual says:

        There was no such thing as a lousy beer!

        • rgr769 says:

          You must have had Hamms instead of Carling black label.

          • timactual says:

            I had beers I had never heard of, and haven’t heard of since; Hamm’s, Olympia, a few others. Low bidder wins the contract, right? Theoretically we were supposed to get two beers/sodas per day. It was all good, bro. I enjoyed every warm and frothy drop. I still like to drink a warm one every now and then. Ah, good times. (sarc)

            Carling Black Label I drank back in the world; low bidder at the liquor store.

            • rgr769 says:

              First time I climbed into a Huey with my company medic he was carrying a case of warm beer. I asked: “Doc, why are you dragging that case of warm beer to the field?” Doc’s response: “Warm beer is better than no beer, sir.”

    • Mason says:

      Had one fly over the house over the weekend. My wife was wondering why I jumped up and grabbed the binoculars. I knew exactly what it was before seeing it.

      The Huey surely is the reason they say helicopters don’t fly, they beat the air into submission.

  6. sj says:

    Infuriating but a picture of that memorial will now appear in a multitude of poser time lines.

    • Mick says:

      Sadly true.

      And ‘heart-wrenching’ photos of weeping posers in leather vests kneeling next to the memorial with their hands on it will also begin to appear on countless posers’ pages on the Book of the Face.

      Infuriating indeed.

  7. borderbill (a NIMBY/BANANA) says:

    This is good-Thank You to those who flew us in (and out, and in between-served us). The sound I recall is the low range thrumming, thumping. Whether they were UH34s, CH53 & 54s, Hueys, LOHs, slicks, anything—Thanks!

  8. HMC Ret says:

    Not enough words to describe the bravery of the chopper pilots in Viet of the Nam. Stones of steel. Thankfully, today’s pilots include women, as well. Same words to describe them.

    And you’re right about the posers. They will be kneeling by the monument with a fake tear in their eye telling BS stories of how the crew chief died in their arms. Cowardly pieces of crap.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      Oh, come on, Chief. If you’re gonna fake the story you have to really drag it into the Swamp of Despair.

      The crew chief died in the faker’s arms while he was handing over the cyclic in his last moments of consciousness. That was just after he coughed up blood clots the size of matured hams, and the bullet that killed him flew right up his trachea at the end. It was so sad, you had to be there to feel it.

  9. Ex-PH2 says:

    It’s about time these guys got their just due.

  10. 26Limabeans says:

    If you ever find yourself in Bangor of the Maine, stop in to the Cole Land Transportation Museum. Show veterans ID and get a walking stick for your war. They have a UH-1 on a memorial mount in the yard.

  11. Jeff LPH 3, 63-66 says:

    What I remember about those Marine 34’S and Hueys while stationed aboard the OKIE 3 before she went WestPac was when we left Norfolk NOB and was underway to pick up the Marine BLT out of Moorehead City which were flown onboard as we headed to the Dominican Republic (Op. Power Pack) in 1965. We had one Huey onboard that was used for the recon over the city Of Santo Domingo and the rest were the 34’S for moving the troops. Since they had enough Marine and Army troops on the ground, a surgical team from Portsmouth was flown onboard and the ship was now an improvised hospital ship and temporary morgue for the kia’s and their remains were kept in the large reefers below deck. One day, an Air force huey came onboard and lowered into the hanger bay and they had an Mg. jury rigged on the co pilot’s side on the tire strut. one of the Air Force crew members wore an Australian bush hat with the side flap sticking up and had an M-1 Carbine with two mags taped together and later on found out that that practice was a no no. Again, I went off on a tangent in almost forgetting that the one Marine Huey was flying over a bridge and took ground fire with which one of the rounds went through the Pilots or co pilots seat and through his thigh. They landed in the non rebel held part of town, got temporary first aid the came aboard. Next day found one of the Airwing painting a purple heart on the side of the Huey. I saved a copy of the Okie news letter and it has the pick of the purple heart on it.

    • Sparks says:

      Thank you for this post Jeff LPH 3, 63-66. Must have been a hell of a cruise.

      • Jeff LPH 3, 63-66 says:

        What a cruise it was Sparks. A lot of fireworks could be seen at night. For us on board the usual with I think it was called Wartime cruising cond. 2 if I remember. Certain things stick out in my mind like my above comment and others not too well. The ROE from what I heard really sucked, hence some of the casualties. There is a youtube film on it and Viet Nam which goes back and forth from VN to DR.

    • Jeff LPH 3, 63-66 says:

      Thanks for putting up my okie newsletter Jonn. I wish I was computer savvy like everyone else out there.

  12. AW1Ed says:

    As a Former, Fellow, Fling-Wing Flyer, I can appriciate this- just wonder what took so long.

  13. Sparks says:

    I’ve kept coming back to this thread today.

    Being in the flight path of our small local airport, I often hear different aircraft arriving or leaving. They never wake me and I pay them no mind. But if a Huey is coming out of that small local strip, it wakes me up without fail. Hasn’t bothered me for decades now. In fact it is a rather soothing sound for me, but I understand maybe not for others. The things I sometimes think I have forgotten, until I experience them again, always amazes me.

    God bless all those who served in helicopter aviation during Vietnam. God rest those of them who gave their blood and lives, to save others.

  14. Mason says:

    Every medivac pilot/crewman I’ve seen fly are crazy sons of bs. Not only do they fly into a hot LZ, they do it in the loudest possible way with a big red cross emblazoned on the side. Don’t think a helicopter can do something, tell a dustoff there’s wounded and they do it. Even on the civilian side, the life flight pilots will land a chopper in a space barely big enough for the bird, between high power lines, with a 20mph cross wind.

  15. Zulu02 says:

    Still stop and look up when I hear a Huey. HH6 thinks it is a little nutty. And as an OC at the NTC I called for more than one medevac. They always came whether it was dark, dust storm, high winds whatever. They have my lasting admiration.

  16. OldSoldier54 says:


    … and about time, too.

    Ice water in their veins, nerves of steel, slick pilots are the bomb!!

  17. John Scanlon says:

    Were the last flight crews to fly the the Huey in the jungle. Central America. 502nd Aviation Bn.

  18. Tony180A says:

    How long before phony Vietnam War UH-1 pilot James Walls drags his sorry ass there for a photo op?

  19. Claw says:

    One small but significant step.

    Perhaps one day before I trundle off this rock, they will find Mr. Aston and bring him home.

    Then his headstone at Arlington can be changed from “In Memory Of” to “Here Lies”.

    He is our only unaccounted for Black Widow.

    • Jose Garcia says:

      Hey claw. Just scanning thru the comments: Which black widows are you referencing? Me – 101st Abn, 101st aviation batt. C co. (?) Black widows, Phu Bai. Sep. 1970