Yesterday I had the chance to spend some time in Traverse City with fellow combat helicopter pilots from the Vietnam War. I truly enjoyed the camaraderie, time together, and stories told with members of the Michigan Chapter of the VHPA.
The dedication ceremony for Vietnam Helicopter Pilots and Crewmembers held on April 18, 2018, at 4:00 pm in Arlington National Cemetery was well attended by VHPA members, Crewmembers, and supporters. The new monument honors the nearly 5,000 aviators and crewmembers who died during the Vietnam War.
A ceremony for those that lost there lives operating helicopters in the Vietnam War was held in Arlington Cemetery’s outdoor auditorium near Section 35 and close to the iconic Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Speakers included Bob Hesselbein of the Legacy Committee VHPA, Julie Kink of Gold Star Families her older brother was killed while serving as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, Mjr Gen Carl McNair Army Aviator in Vietnam and Congressmen who helped make the monument bill become law.
Flyby of USAF Huey’s accompanied the ceremony after the retiring of the colors. View a full video of the flyby at https://photos.app.goo.gl/79Q3uzlzvhShURLh2
Our annual spring lunch meeting will be on Saturday, May 5th in the Back Room of the Log Jam Restaurant, 110 West Jefferson, Grand Ledge. It will start at noon and the room has been booked until 1500 so you’ll have more time to socialize and try out your enhanced war stories.
Those who are familiar with the Log Jam can tell you the food and beverage selection is excellent, the service is great and we have the room to ourselves. Plan to bring your spouse and tell her she won’t be the only spouse there. But you can warn her she might get hit on by some old helicopter pilots.
We’ll have a short business meeting after lunch with a main discussion point of events we want to participate in this year. If you have anything you’d like to bring for “show and tell” – please do. If you have any ideas for an event for us to join, bring information about that and/or send it to me for inclusion on the agenda. If you have someone in mind as a guest speaker for a future gathering, please let me know.
I’m working on a possible tour at the Army Aviation Support Facility at the Grand Ledge airport. I’ll update that as I get more information.
Mark May 5th on your calendar and I hope to see you in Grand Ledge. Happy Cinco de Mayo!!
Rich Deer; Member and President
MiVHPA Member Rod Offhaus, will speak on the 101st Airborne Division’s Operation Lam Son 719. American helicopters had flown more than 160,000 sorties in the February – March 1971 Vietnam and Laos operation.
Local area Michigan VHPA meetings
January of 2018 starts off well for Michigan VHPA with two successful local lunch meetings around the state. Since our membership is scattered throughout Michigan and in past years we have had only spring membership meetings in Grand Ledge, our new emphasis is for members to host local social gatherings in their own region. So far in 2017 &18, we have had several of these meetups, with Mark Benjamin holding the record for hosting the most lunches in Travers City on a monthly base.
Other meetings have been held around the south-east part of the state in Milford, Mi., Hamburg, Mi., and Ann Arbor, Mi. Look for more details on future gatherings in our membership-wide emails, on our Calendar of Events Page on this site and on the Michigan VHPA FaceBook events page.
Arlington National Cemetery Monument Dedication
The Vietnam Helicopter Crew Monument will be dedicated on April 18th, 2018 at 4:00pm. The 2 1/2-foot by 2 1/2-foot monument will be placed in Section 35 along Memorial Drive, not far from the Tomb of the Unknowns, in the Virginia cemetery. Any Michigan VHPA members able to attend will be appreciated to represent our contribution to the monument. For more information on the dedication of the Vietnam Helicopter Crew Monument, go to the VHPA’s website page Our Legacy.
The Michigan participants and others attending the 34th National VHPA Reunion in Indianapolis will have an informal Michigan Chapter VHPA Meetup for those who care to attend. The get together will be at the O’ Club (sponsored by the VHPA ) in the JW Marriott on July 2nd & 3rd from 3:00 to 5:00 pm. Like at other reunions before, we should be able to find each other in the O’ Club have a drink, swap stories and take a few pictures. Depending on scheduled activities and arrival dates members should be able to meetup with most of the Michigan contingent over two days. The official VHPA Morning Report shows at least 21 Michigan members plus spouses attending the Indianapolis reunion, about ten attendees are not members of the Michigan Chapter VHPA but everyone of course is welcome into the group. If another date is needed for a meetup we can set that up too. The O’ Club is a little less formal then reserving a special room, but catering will already be setup for our smaller group. Any questions or comments contact firstname.lastname@example.org . (2017 Michigan Meetup)
Chapter Member Mark Benjamin is heading up our chapter participation during the National Cherry Festival in Travers City Mi.
Ramp Night: This is an annual event held at the Coast Guard Air station in Traverse City. This years ramp night is on Friday, June 30, 2017 at 5:30 PM and goes till 8:30. This is held every year on the Friday night before the Saturday kick off of the National Cherry Festival.
Update on Ramp Night June 30th from Mark Benjamin: Just got an email from USCG. They want our list by closing on Tuesday the 27th.
Tell everyone that if they want in before the gates open, (I suggest about 4:30 pm) just email me or call my cell phone before the close of business on the 27th at email@example.com or (231) 642-1201. Any issues when you get to the gate, just call my cell phone. Of course anyone can just wait till 5:30 pm when the gates open and join us then also.
To All Michigan Chapter VHPA Members and Interested Parties,
Since our membership is scattered through the state and we’ve recently only had the spring meeting in Grand Ledge I have previously requested that anyone who would be able to host a social gathering of the chapter in their own neighborhood / region to simply find a place, set a date and time, let me know and I’d put it out.
Mark Benjamin in Traverse City took me up on this and is hosting a lunch in his town for anyone to join him, with special emphasis on those living/visiting in that neck of the woods.
Thursday, June 8th at noon he will be at Brady’s, 401 S Union St, Traverse City, MI 49684 (zip added in case it helps GPS locator – my joke). He plans to make this a monthly get together on the 2nd Thursday of every month.
He knows it “Might be me having lunch alone but ya gotta start somewhere.” Now with that kind of dedication, you aren’t going to let him down are you? I know there’s a bunch of you in the general vicinity of Traverse City so . . . . Be There! Okay?
And my request/suggestion stands for other areas as well. Someone just find a place, set a date and time, let me know and I’ll get the word out. Just a get-together of old helicopter pilots enjoying some camaraderie and thinking up new war stories.
Member and President
Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association