Michigan VHPA Spring Meeting for 2020 Canceled

Michigan Chapter VHPA – Virtual Group Photo – Spring Meeting

To All Michigan Chapter Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association Members and Associates

Just because we were unable to hold the annual spring meeting last Saturday, it doesn’t mean we can’t have a group photo.  Bob Rich proposed we do a virtual group photo using your selfies.

So if you were planning to attend the spring meeting, or if you have attended a spring meeting in the past, or if you just want to get in on this, please send your selfie to me.  It should be a natural, quarantined version wearing whatever you would have worn at the meeting – or not.   See the photo below as one idea.  Note the extra hair over my left ear – there’s a lot more behind that.

The photos will be compiled into a gallery.  I’ll send it out to everyone, of course, Bob Rich plans to publish it on our Michigan chapter website and/or Facebook page, and I’ll submit it to the VHPA Aviator as well.  You’ll be famous.

The deadline for submissions will be in two weeks – May 20th.

Stay Safe,

Rich Deer
Member and President
Michigan Chapter VHPA
Lapel pin project, courtesy of Mark Benjamin.

May 4, 2019 Spring Meeting

This year marks the 8th annual Spring Meeting of the Michigan Chapter VHPA. The annual spring meeting of the Michigan Chapter will be held at noon on Saturday, May 4th, 2019 in the back meeting room of the Log Jam restaurant, 110 W. Jefferson, Grand Ledge, MI. (517) 627-4300

Log Jam restaurant, 110 W. Jefferson, Grand Ledge, MI.

The scheduled chapter events for 2019 are listed below, this list was taken from chapter President Rich Deer’s recent emails and will be updated on the chapter calendar tab above:

To All Michigan Chapter Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association Members and Associates,

Below is a tentative list of possible activities for our chapter to participate in this year. The first few are either accomplished or already planned. Several of the others have been annual events for us if there is still interest in them again this year.

This list is not carved in stone. If there are other activities of interest please let me know so they can be added for consideration. Each one requires someone to take the lead on making necessary contacts and coordinating volunteers to participate. Assistance/support will be solicited on request.

A standing suggestion/recommendation/request is for individual members to consider hosting a gathering such as a lunch, golf, you-name-it in their area to simply get some of the guys together to develop new and better war stories. It doesn’t have to be any big event, just find a place, let me know the date and time and I’ll put it out to everyone.

This will be on the agenda for discussion at our May 4th spring meeting at noon at the Log Jam Restaurant in Grand Ledge.

2019 Michigan Chapter VHPA Planned and Potential Activities

Mark Benjamin’s monthly lunch gatherings at Brady’s in Traverse City now 1st Thursday each month at noon.

January 10, February 14, March 14, April 11 so far.

Project: Restore Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Monument in Traverse City

May 4 – Spring Meeting Michigan VHPA– Log Jam Restaurant, Grand Ledge

May 28-June 1 – VHPA 36th Reunion Kansas City

June 15-16 – Wings Over Northern Michigan, Gaylord Regional Airport https://www.wingsovernorthernmichigan.org/

June 21-23 – Lest We Forget, St. Joe River Basin. American Huey 369 participating

June 28 – USCG Ramp Night, USCG Air Station Traverse City

June 29-30 – National Cherry Festival Airshow, Open Space Park, Traverse City https://www.cherryfestival.org/events/2019/air-show

July ??? – Livingston County Airshow https://livingstonairshow.com/

July 22-28 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, Wisconsin https://www.eaa.org/airventure

August 3-4 – Thunder Over Michigan, Willow Run Airport. Army Aviation Heritage Foundation participating.

August 11 – OCIA Air Show & Open House – Oakland County International Airport, Waterford. https://www.oakgov.com/aviation/airports/ocia/Pages/Air-Show.aspx

August 8-12 The Moving Wall, (http://themovingwall.org/current_schedule.html) Ford Field Park, Livonia. Army Aviation Heritage Foundation participating.

August 17 – Mason Aviation Day – https://www.michigan.gov/aero/0,4533,7-352-79172_79181-487833–,00.html

August 29-September 2 – The Moving Wall, Hamburg, MI. American Huey 369 participating.

September 8 – Maple Grove Airport Fly-In. Michigan Chapter lunch after.

No events are scheduled for “The Traveling Wall” or “The Wall That Heals” in Michigan for 2019.

Rich Deer

Member & President

Spring Meeting May 5, 2018

To All Michigan Chapter Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association Members and Interested Parties,
The spring meeting was held May 5, 2018, in the Back Room of the Log Jam Restaurant in Grand Ledge with 20 members, spouses, and guest in attendance.  
Several had traveled considerable distances to attend. Many brought memorabilia and set up displays while socializing commenced and camaraderie quickly developed.  A plaque of our chapter logo made by Bob Rich had been provided the year before and we found it prominently mounted in the dining area.
The Log Jam staff performed their usual great service in arranging to seat, taking care of our beverage and meal orders, and assisting with equipment needs for the guest speaker. 
After lunch, a business meeting was conducted.
Rich Deer advised that the chapter has vacancies for secretary and treasurer and is looking for volunteers or draftees to fill the spots.
A large part of the meeting was spent on discussing chapter activities for the year. Some activities had already been accomplished or were ongoing. 
·Bob Rich had hosted a lunch gathering in Ann Arbor on January 10th with 6 members attending. 
·Mark Benjamin continues to host monthly lunch gatherings in Traverse City with good attendance each time. His next gathering will be on Monday, May 14th instead of the usual 2nd Thursday.  This is to accommodate a Marine pilot who flew CH-46s in Vietnam and happens to be a congressman.  It was stressed there would be no politics, just war stories with another Vietnam helicopter pilot.
·Alan Saxton coordinated a visit to a meeting of the Michigan Helicopter Association at the Yankee Air Museum on February 15th.  Dave James and Bill Andrew were among the 4 members who participated and gave some details. Glen Veno advised the MHA is inviting us to return to their meeting on July 19th at Grosse Ile.
·The dedication of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots and Crewmember Monument at Arlington National Cemetery was attended by at least three chapter members and two of their wives.  Lee Luck, Gabe Hudson, and Bob Rich sent great photos of the event.
Upcoming events include;
·The Moving Wall in Kalkaska.  Mark Benjamin is asking for assistance on May 20th for the event.
·Lest We Forget at the St. Joe River Basin June 22-24 is being coordinated by Vice President Dave James.  This is at a different location from past years which were held in Benton Harbor.
·Ramp Night with the U.S. Coast Guard in Traverse City is being coordinated by Mark Benjamin on June 29th. Participants should contact Mark for specific details on required early arrival times.
·The VHPA Reunion in Atlanta July 3-7 shows four chapter members attending on the reunion’s Morning Report so far. Glen Veno is working with the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation to provide UH-1 and AH-1 rides during part of the reunion.
·While not in Michigan, there is considerable interest among members in going to the EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin July 23-29.  Dave James will organize ride sharing and housing for those interested.
·Also not in Michigan but a good opportunity is the 12th Annual Gathering of Veterans and Patriots at the American Huey Museum in Peru, Indiana August 11 & 12. John Akley provided a display with details of the organization.  He and Glen Veno described some of the events that will take place.
·Mason Aviation Days on August 18th will be coordinated by Dave James.  This event is very popular and draws a good crowd.
·Thunder Over Michigan on August 23-26 at the Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti is a huge event for the state and the great opportunity for our chapter.  Sandy McLeod is coordinating the event and is asking for volunteers to help man our display there.
·Dawn Patrol at the Maple Grove Airport near Fowlerville will be in early September, believe Sunday, September 9th.  This has become a traditional early fall activity for our chapter.  Dave James will coordinate and it will include a lunch gathering afterward. That gathering has become our fall chapter meeting but with no business agenda expected.
Glen Veno presented information on a Brag Board he made.  He suggested such displays are a good attraction at events we cover and can give a lot of information about our legacy.
Rich Deer advised that Bob Rich has supported the chapter in several ways including creation and enhancements of our chapter logo, creating and maintaining the chapter website and Facebook page, and making several wooden chapter logo items including the plaque permanently mounted at the Log Jam and an enlarged replica of a challenge coin. In Bob’s absence, Rich displayed a logo challenge coin that Bob had obtained for distribution to the chapter members. Each chapter member present was given one of the beautiful coins.
Treasurers Report was given by Rich Deer. The balance was $532.87.  Eight members had paid their dues already. (Seven members paid dues during the meeting.)  A separate accounting of the campaign to support the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots and Crewmember Monument was presented. The campaign was started at last year’s meeting on a suggestion and initial contribution by Gary Copp. $1,400 was collected and supplemented with $350 from the treasury for $1,750 total. A check in that amount was presented to the VHPA by Lee Luck at the 2017 VHPA Reunion.
A membership roster was made available showing 19 new members since the May 2017 chapter meeting.  Many of the new members were recruited by Mark Benjamin during his Traverse City monthly lunch gatherings, while others were recruited at the 2017 VHPA reunion, by member referrals, during chapter activities such as Maple Grove, in response to an invitation included in the chapter submission to the VHPA Aviator, and the latest from contact with the local Quad-A chapter.  Sadly, there was one loss from the passing of chapter member Rod Fleck.  It was noted that several of the members are from out of state and include non-pilot RVN crew chiefs.
Displays brought in for the meeting included a UH-1 model contributed by Lee Luck made from rosewood and marked with the 48th AHC logo, early flight school era memorabilia shown by Bill Andrew, flight gear and the Brag Board provided by Glen Veno, a display board about the American Huey 369 organization set up by John Akley, and another banner who’s contributor and detail was not recorded by the chapter secretary – sorry.
After the group photo, Rod Offhaus gave a presentation about Lam Son 719 which covered great detail about the operation.  Several of the chapter members present had participated in the operation and added many personal stories.  Many thanks to Rod for the work he put into making the presentation.
Submitted by,
Rich Deer
Member and President
Congressmen Jack Bergman Meets with the Traverse City Lunch Gathering
May 14,2018
From Jack Bergman  FaceBook Page Monday, May 15th, 2018

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.

Vietnam Helicopter Pilot and Crewmember Monument Dedication

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.

Speaking with Bob Hesselbein the chairman of the Legacy project about the monument he thanked the Michigan Chapter VHPA for their financial help.






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

The reception held at WMSAM center located near the cemetery entrance concluded the Pilot and Crewmember monument dedication ceremony and a four-year effort by the Legacy committee.

Spring Meeting May 5, 2018, Log Jam Restaurant

To All Michigan Chapter Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association Members and Interested Parties,

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.

Up Coming Events in 2018

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.


Michigan Chapter Meetup in Indianapolis July 2nd & 3rd 2017

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 michvhpa@gmail.com .                         (2017 Michigan Meetup)

Michigan Chapter VHPA – Participation in Cherry Festival in Traverse City

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.


For more info refer to our 2017 Newsletter Page or  email Mark at: sbenjmar@aol.com. Cell phone: (231) 642-1201.




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 sbenjmar@aol.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.

First North West MI VHPA Chapter Lunch Event

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.

Thanks to Mark for getting this going.

Submitted by,
Rich Deer
Member and President
Michigan Chapter
Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association