A veteran – whether active duty, retired, national guard or reserve – is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to “The United States of America,” for an amount of “up to and including my life.”


A new feature on our website ( ) can be found by placing the cursor on Vietnam at the top of the home page and then clicking on Unit Rosters”. We do not have all the years covered by this section. If you have possession of any unit roster not listed, please send a copy to the Association address and we will get the roster posted ASAP. Please note that no identifying social security or service numbers are listed on any roster. We hope you will enjoy seeing the names that may have slipped your mind. These names may also be helpful establishing a VA claim. Having the rosters on our website should mean many of our unlocated men may find us if they just “google” their own name.

In a message received by the Association following the Denver Reunion, Col. Roger Donlon stated, “We had a wonderful time last week with the Rattler-Firebird Association. We want you to know that your unit was the most spirited reunion we have ever attended.”

An attempt has been made to include photos of all first time reunion attendees, newsletter contributors and banquet award recipients in this newsletter. We are heavy on photos in this edition of the newsletter because of the reunion.

An added feature to our website lists our “Rattler Legends” and “Jesus Nut Awards”. The lists are under Association, then under Reunions.

Our 2010 reunion will definitely be held east of the Mississippi River. Nashville, TN is being given a good look as a potential site. The Nashville airport boasts of having direct flights from over 40 cities.

At Denver, Danny Conn donated an intricately carved wooden, coiled rattlersnake to the Association. Our thanks go out to Danny for this addition to our memorabilia.

Some of the following responses have been received concerning our aircraft carrying celebrities of any nature in the war.

Karen Bourland writes of her father, Bill O’Connell, having carried Eddie Fisher and Martha Raye.

Steve Martin said he also carried Eddie Fisher and this was probably the same flight. Martin also tells of being visited in the hospital by Ann Margaret after the crash of 20 Feb 66. Around 1980, the performer was appearing live in Atlanta. One of Martin’s pals from college knew Margaret’s husband/manager Roger Smith and arranged for Steve to get tickets to the show. At one point she stopped the show and said she had some friends she met in Vietnam in the audience. She then introduced Martin and two others who received a nice reception. Later, Martin was invited backstage to meet her again. He said it was a very nice and appreciated gesture on her part.

Jim Adams writes of flying with Chester Henson when they were given the mission of flying Tim Tully and Friends to area firebases. Among those on the ship were a Dean Martin “Golddigger” and the May 1968 Playmate, Elizabeth Jordon.

I’m sorry to say I lost the name of the person who wrote that he carried famed stripper Gypsy Rose Lee on his ship. He said she was still a knockout!

Martha Raye was a fixture in Vietnam. It’s my understanding that at one time she was entertaining our flyboys in the club, down in the villa in Bien Hoa when things got pretty rowdy. The Company Commander, Major “Jug” Haid came in and ordered the club to close. LTC Raye told him she out ranked him and the club would stay open. Rather than get into an argument, Haid chose to let it go. The club stayed open!

When the Association signs a hotel contract for a reunion, to some degree we are risking the fiscal stability of our group. There are always certain benchmarks that must be attained and must be guaranteed by us. The VHPA reportedly lost $150,000 last year because of failure to meet contractual guarantees. At Denver we managed to exceed our numbers, but we were closer to not making them than is comfortable. This fact will be considered when a new contract is signed and we may not be able to bloc as many rooms as in the past. Having said that, the best way you can assist the Association is by early reservations.


The Association address directory will be mailed by late August. In order to receive this directory, you must be current with your Association dues. Look at the address label on this newsletter. To the right of your name, your dues status is shown, or there is nothing there. If the following appears there, your dues are current: 2009 (or higher), Life or C Life. The 2008 dues expired on June 30, 2008. We do not collect back dues. Any dues sent in will go toward current or future dues. As this goes to press, we have 324 dues paying members out of 1037 in the directory. This is about 31%. Everyone on our mailing list receives the newsletter. Only dues paying persons receive the once a year address directory.


Our 2008 reunion is history. There were 142 men that served together in attendance. We had 8 last minute cancellations for various reasons. Also in attendance were Mary Lou and Dan Wade. Mary Lou is the sister of Capt. Herb Crosby, one of our KIAs. Patricia and Neil Hayes were present. Patricia is the mom of KIA John Rankin, Jr. and Neil is his brother. Janet Choate was there along with four other family members. Janet’s dad was SFC Bill Buck (who is deceased).

A first time ladies meeting was held on Thursday afternoon in order to give an overview into just what makes up an assault helicopter company. This was conducted by a slide show and dialogue by Vic Bandini. There was a dual purpose also which was allowing our “experienced” ladies to become acquainted with the “first timers”. Because of the length of the slide portion, the meeting was closed and conducted later by Paula O’Quinn on Saturday morning following the Memorial Service.

John Mateyko (OF 65-66) and Terry Igoe (OF 68-69) were elected to our Board of Directors replacing David O’Quinn (WO 66-67) and Vic Bandini (WO 68-69) who left due to term limits. Our thanks go out to all these men for their dedication to our Association. Bandini will remain as Chairman of our Reunion Committee.

Our Saturday night banquet was kicked off by a ten person Honor Guard made up of our own Firebirds. With only one 30 minute practice session, these men gave a stirring performance that was much appreciated.

For the first time at our banquet, an “assigned” seating chart was used. Ron Seabolt wishes to thank everyone for their cooperation. It worked out wonderfully albeit there were some adjustments that will be made in the future if this is used again. In the past, we have had members arrive at the banquet with several family members and or guests and there not be a table in which all could be seated. Our 292 banquet attendees knew right where to find their seats this time.

Col. Roger Donlon and his wife Norma were our special guests at the reunion. Col. Donlon was awarded the Medal of Honor for action he was involved with as a Special Forces A Team commander in 1964. Many comments were received from our men concerning the poise, grace, friendliness and “approachability” of this gentleman. Except for the blue ribbon around his neck, one would have assumed he was just another of our pilots. They were at home with us.

This writer had never had the opportunity to salute a Medal of Honor until our Saturday night banquet. Col. Donlon returns these salutes smartly as a part of his responsibility when wearing The Medal. His message as our guest speaker was one we all needed to reflect upon. The gist of this message had Col. Donlon referring to a compass he placed before him at the podium. The compass was his reminder to always check your “back azimuth”. Make sure you are going in the right direction in your life.

Col. Donlon’s personally autographed book, Beyond Nam Dong, was offered to our people earlier in the week for $25. The book is a very inspirational work about Donlon’s life experiences that lead up to the early morning attack on 6 July 1964 and his actions while trying to save the camp. This is recommended reading for anyone interested in the history of the Vietnam War. You may access an order form on our website by putting your cursor on Association at the top of the home page. Then click on Reunions. Then click on Reunion 2008 – Denver, CO. From that page you can print an order form. Be sure to check the printed copy of this newsletter that was mailed to you for a special offer on this book for Rattlers and Firebirds.

The “Rattler Legend” Award won presented by George Jackson to (then) 1LT Dennis Hand. Hand was recognized as being the best of the best when it came to sheer flying ability. No one who ever flew with Dennis Hand could argue with that assessment. Hand graduated from Georgia Tech University as an electrical engineer in 1964 and received his 2LT bars through ROTC. A private pilot’s license before he got out of high school aided Hand to become the “honor student” (#1) in class 66-6.

After flight school it was on to Vietnam and assignment to the 1st Calvary Division. Two weeks later during a formation, 1/3 of the pilots were reassigned in a DEROS swap (to prevent too many pilots from going home at the same time from the same unit). Dennis went to the 145th Aviation Battalion at Bien Hoa where he was assigned to the Rattlers in July 1966.

Dennis stated that there were 8 pilots from his flight class assigned to the 1st Cav. Hand is the only one who survived the war. A plaque donated by Paul Bartlett’s Heliplaque Company (see ) was awarded to Hand to honor this occasion.

George Jackson told of taking his “check ride” with Dennis Hand, who was the 1st platoon instructor pilot. Jackson had very limited time in the Huey and was very nervous doing this. At one point the throttle was rolled off and an autorotation initiated. Hand told Jackson exactly where to set the aircraft down. When the aircraft settled to the ground, Jackson felt very proud of his actions. Then it was very quiet in the ship. MAJOR Jackson looked over at 1LT Hand, who was staring back at him. Hand said, “What in the hell was that? When I tell you to put it on a spot, I mean put it on that spot!” Jackson had missed the intended spot by about 10 feet.

Such was the method of Dennis Hand’s perfection in flying a Huey. He knew that when the autorotation took place for real, you might only be able to use a small hole in the jungle and 10 feet could be the difference in walking away from the aircraft or ending up inverted and a ball of flame.

Wendell Freeman (WO 70-71) won the eighth award of the Jesus Nut for traveling the longest distance to the reunion. Wendell came from The Netherlands, a distance of 4800 miles.

Our raffle was more successful than ever, selling 2000 tickets (1800 actually, it was buy 10 get 1 free). The five prizes were won by DeeDee Carlock – the AirTrans tickets, Terry Igoe – the custom made patriotic quilt, Bill Patrick – the tail rotor bracelet and brass cylic head, Tracie Hibbs – the medal / flag display case, and George Jackson – the certificate for the Joe Kline print. Our thanks go to all who contributed items for this raffle, AirTrans Airlines, Vicki Wright for the Quilt, Bill DiDio’s LZNam for the flag / metal case and Joe Kline’s Aviation Art for the helicopter print certificate.

Dave Hunter (EM 69-70) told of his feelings about the reunion like this. “At the Washington D.C. reunion, my wife and I were scheduled to play golf with Jim and Karen Pfister. Unfortunately they were in the car that got lost and I missed the chance to really spend some quality time with them. When I get to Denver, I find out that not only am I having the privilege of playing golf at the Air Force Academy course, I am scheduled to play in the foursome that includes Col. Roger Donlon, Dennis Hand and Will Hall. It was my honor to spend that day becoming well acquainted with some special people. At the Saturday night banquet, my guest, Connie Smith, was recognized for her service as an Army nurse in Vietnam with a standing ovation (along with our own LaRue Keller). Later when George Jackson began his presentation of the Rattler Legend Award and said this person finished 1st in his flight class, I knew it was going to be Dennis Hand who received it. This made me treasure our time together on Friday that much more. I don’t know how the Association does it, but each reunion is always better than the last one. Thank you sincerely! And one other thing, when my Association newsletter arrives in the mail, everything else stops until I read it cover to cover!”


The following death notices of our men have been received since our last newsletter:


If you have not been to a VA facility to have an Agent Orange screening, please take the time to do so. Early detection of problems can save your life. Having said that, if you participate in this registry this does not substitute for filing a claim for disability compensation. That is a totally separate action.

The VA will have a veteran service officer to assist you with this at all VA Regional Offices, in VA medical centers and at most VA clinics. Remember, this person is employed by the VA. The Disabled American Veterans (DAV), American Legion and VFW also will assist you with the filing and those organizations have no agenda except helping you.

This Association has been informed of scores of our men who were able to successfully substantiate VA claims because they had the ability to contact our guys directly who were there with them, thereby being able to have help from men you served with. This ability cannot be overstated because of the VA’s penchant for paperwork in their bureaucracy. If you need help contacting someone and do not have an address directory, contact Ron Seabolt at the Association by calling or emailing the info on the back of this newsletter. Remember, never knowingly submit a false claim or aid someone with a false claim. This is illegal.

DOING THE RIGHT THING by Tom Griffith (OF 65-66)

This mission took place in the area south of My Tho. There was a village right on the bank of the river that had reported being invaded by a small group of VC. The local RF/PF put together a very well planned operation to rout the VC out of the village and either kill them or capture them.

The plan was to have a blocking force on the north side of the village, the river would serve as a blocking obstacle on the east side, and a platoon sized force would push through the village from the south to accomplish the mission. We were a light fire team consisting of Firebird 91 and Firebird 92 (both Frogs), and were assigned to provide fire support for the mission.

The blocking forces had moved into position during the night. We were on station just before daybreak, and the offensive force started their push at daybreak. I had a RVN Army lieutenant on board to give me ID of the VC and shoot authority. Shortly after the offensive force started their move into the village, six men in black pajamas spit out the west side. The VN lieutenant immediately started screaming for me to “Shoot, shoot!” I rolled in with machine guns and knocked down two of the VC. The other four ran into a small bamboo hut about the size of a large outhouse. 92 rolled in and put two rockets right through the door of the hut, and bamboo splinters went a hundred feet into the air. Out of that explosion ran a single man. He started running toward a village about two miles away. As he swam several irrigation canals and ran across several rice paddies and pineapple fields, we must have knocked him down four times with rockets and machine gun fire. 92 put a rocket so close to him once that it knocked him eight feet into the air, and he looked like a rag doll flying through the air. He landed and took of running like nothing had happened. He finally got close to the village, and I could see a large crowd of men, women and children gathering on the edge of the village. I flew an approach down toward him with the initial thought of capturing him and taking him back to the ground forces we were supporting. I brought the chopper right down to a hover about 30 yards from him. He stood and faced me with his arms down at his side. The door gunner asked if he could finish him. I told him to hold his fire. I looked at the man, and realized he was probably a boy about 16 years old. Blood was streaming from his face and head. His clothes were torn to shreds. Our eyeballs came together for about 20 seconds. I decided that it was too dangerous to dismount the crew chief and door gunner to capture him. I also decided, much to the disagreement of my crew, not to kill him. So, I pulled pitch and flew off. I kept watching him as we flew away. He never moved as long as I could see him.

Anyone who recalls this mission, I’d love to get the additional details that you can provide.

I often wonder if I did the right thing sparing his life that day, but it was my judgment at the time.

Editor’s note: In 1968, it was alleged that Frank Carson let one live on his watch also. Then Shawn Hannah ratted him out at the officer’s club.


The company was working south Tra Bong. It was July 1971. Our fireteam was making a gun run covering the combat assault or our Rattlers. As we broke off the run, our wingman was right there covering us. The next thing I hear is crew chief Dennis Moore say over the intercom, “We lost a rocket pod.” It was hanging by one end only, so we jettisoned it and continued to circle around for another gun run covering the slicks.

We completed this run, covering the insertion and broke around for another covering maneuver. In the midst of this run, I hear the door gunner laughing. I turned around to look and there’s Dennis Moore hanging out of the aircraft on his monkey strap with an M-60 in one hand while he tries to get his feet on the skids to climb back in.

It seems that in the heat of the moment, Dennis had forgotten that the rocket pod had been jettisoned. As he attempted to stand on the rocket pod to put fire below us, he discovered the hard way that the pod was missing.

Incidences like this tend to alleviate the stress of flying in combat. At least it did for three crewmembers of Firebird 99 that July day.

FEBRUARY 20, 1966
By Steve Martin (OF 65-66 – retired medically)

Steve Martin and Tom Griffith
Steve Martin & Tom Griffith - 1965-66

Sunday, February 20, 1966 started out with a memorial service for Battalion Commander, LTC Charles E. Honour, Jr., his pilot Albert M. Smith (son of Howard K. Smith, newscaster/journalist) and other occupants of the helicopter crash of LTC Chuck Honour’s Huey aircraft on February 18 1966. We were told we could have the day off, but certain pilots were told to be available. I was told I did not need to fly due to the amount of hours I had for the month of February. I went to Bien Hoa to see the city. I heard the siren go off which meant all pilots available to fly were to go to the flight line. I thought about not going since I was not scheduled to fly. I knew the slogan “you never volunteer for anything in the Army,” but I went to the flight line to help out or assist in any way I could. I arrived at the flight line and was told there were not enough pilots needed for a big lift. I was told to fly with a warrant officer (Archie Pitts) in the second ship of the second section on a major lift of America troops from Bearcat to a hot area. I thought I was originally in the left seat of the aircraft and moved to the right seat when Capt. Marshall Ray (Lefty) Frizzell showed up. Lt. Bob Browning recalled he was in the left seat and I was in the right seat and he was replaced by Capt. Frizzell. Our crew chief was Pfc. Richard P. Lancaster, Jr. and a door Gunner was PFC P.W. Gamsby. I took the controls and lifted off with the formation. We were the last choppers in this big lift and once we got to the pick up point, we were told this last section would not be needed. This section, led by Captain Jack Horton (we were second out of 5/6 choppers), returned to Bien Hoa/Snake Pit and landed. I started to shut down and Capt. Horton’s ship notified everyone that we were to go back to the LZ for additional troops and fly them to the hot area. Capt. Frizzell took the controls on this return flight and we flew to the landing zone as the second chopper.

The pick up LZ was a dust bowl. We landed and loaded seven (7) American combat troops. We had no prior special procedures for take off onto this LZ since this was a big, wide open area. Normally, the lead ship would lift off or radio/communicate ready to lift off and proceed straight forward. The remaining ships would break out to the left and right alternatively. We did not receive any radio communications from the lead ship and assumed it would go straight forward to get out of the way of the remaining aircraft. I was told later that the lead ship could not lift off and moved to the right rather than going straight as far as they could to get out of the way. When Capt. Frizzell lifted the collective along with the aircraft in front of us, the dust created zero visibility. Capt. Frizzell, at the controls, made a hard right turn/slide and commenced to move down the runway (lift off direction) to avoid the aircraft in front of us. I think we almost had transition and suddenly we saw the rotor blades of the first aircraft on the left side and below our ship. As soon as we saw the blades below us, I heard a big bang and I felt our aircraft start to roll to the right from the impact of the first aircraft’s rotor blades. I instinctively grabbed the controls to level our ship to prevent it from turning upside down, and then pancaked our aircraft to the ground. I could not get my right door to open due to the impact. The windshield was blown out so I started to crawl out the windshield. I knew I had to get out of the aircraft immediately (Army Training). When I stood up to crawl out, I realized my left leg below the knee was broken and saw three fingers missing on my left hand. I lifted my left leg over the dash and slid down the nose to the ground. I must have been in shock because my mind/brain was going Mach 1 and I had no pain. As I was going out of the windshield, I thought John Wayne would be proud of me. I touched the ground with my right leg. I laid down and began to crawl on my right side with the left leg on top. I noticed the left foot was turned 180 degrees. A soldier came to me and I was told it could have been Gary Parks, A Co. 501st. I asked him to give me a shot of morphine in the left leg and use his belt to put a tourniquet on it. I gave myself a shot of morphine in my left arm from my medical pack. (I had worked my way through the University of Georgia and one of my jobs was emergency ambulance service at Bernstein Funeral Home from1960-1964).

I continued to crawl away from the aircraft on my right side. (My left hand got dirt in the missing area of my fingers, thus causing the doctors to need a bigger pedical skin graft). I looked back at our ship and shouted at the troops to get out and away from it because it was on fire (the magnesium goes fast). I recall one soldier passenger had his foot stuck somehow. He took his bayonet and started to cut or pry it loose and finally got it out. As I continued to crawl, I saw bullet tracers flying over my head and my first thought was I was going to get shot in my ass with my own ammo which was exploding from the intense fire of the aircraft. Fortunately, I did not get hit. My mind was racing with so many thoughts, one of which was I was disappointed I would not get to go to Bangkok for R & R. I recall my gunner, I think, came to me with fuel burns and screaming. I told him to go get help for himself. I looked up and saw gunships circling (118th Bandits - John Bearrie was in my flight class 65-10). After that, someone came to me and the next thing I knew, I was on a stretcher and on a chopper to the field hospital at Long Bien. Everything happened so fast after the crash. The Army Emergency Training stuck in my head, i.e. get the ship on the ground, immediately get out of the aircraft, and then determine what to do. I don’t recall looking at Cpt. Frizzell or his status. I was told he took the main rotor blade along with our crew chief, PFC Richard Lancaster and one passenger, PFC Welty Carroll Leon (1st Inf. Div). Our gunner was burned and maybe some other passengers.


Upon arrival at the hospital, I was rushed from the Med Evac to the emergency area. The doctor looked at my left hand missing the three fingers (and it turned out my thumb and little finger were smashed badly). I was told later my doctor tried to do surgery and save them, but ultimately had to amputate them. The doctor then looked at my left foot which was turned 180 degrees around. He began to cut my fatigues and boots. At this point, I asked him not to notify my parents. He said, yeah, yeah and I asked him to promise. He said, OK, I promise. He kept that promise and later got chewed out by his boss. He had an interesting comment, which I shall not repeat in writing. He then pulled on my left foot and rotated it to normal position and told me to wiggle my toes. I felt them move and he said good. That was the last thing I remembered for about two weeks, except for a few moments of going in and out of several surgeries. One morning I woke up and asked the nurse to remove the blood infusion because it hurt and I said I am full. She laughed and removed it. I finally met my doctor, a captain, James Marvel, Captain. Marvel. This was 1966. In 1968, the movie MASH was made. (The Army initially would not show it on base). Capt. Marvel was Hawkeye. Also there was a Major just like Major Burns in this hospital. There are some great stories and events that happened during my 6-7 weeks at this field hospital.

Except for me, no one stayed there for more than 5 days. They tried to ship/move patients to the states, Japan, Philippines, etc. Dr. Marvel saved my leg by doing skin grafts and closure procedures. Our flight surgeon visited me and told me he was asked permission to amputate it, but Dr. Marvel came up with a solution. At Walter Reed Hospital when the cast was removed, the doctors would gather to review the procedures that Dr. Marvel performed and were told this is how to put a leg back together. At Walter Reed, the orthopedic ward had a big room at the end called The Snake Pit, with a coiled rattle snake emblem. Dé jé vù all over again, as Yogi would say. The Snake Pitt name and emblem was discovered by Capt. Tim Quinn (lost his leg in Vietnam and who was a patient) and was originated by a Korean veteran, and patients in the 1950's and Tim revived it. The Snake Pit was for junior officers, no field grade, except for one Major Howie Deen, a helicopter pilot, and a good man. I met my wife Judy, at Walter Reed. Judy was a Physical Therapist and made Captain before I did (thus she had date of rank on me as it should be). We had a small family wedding in the Walter Reed Chapel next to the hospital. It is said to be a miniature of the West Point Chapel.

I tried to locate Dr. Marvel after about 20 years and a nurse/lawyer friend found him. I talked to him on the phone and wrote him a long letter thanking him and informing him how the doctors at Walter Reed would review his procedures each time the cast was removed. He later came to Atlanta for an AMA meeting and Judy and I took him out to dinner. What a great doctor. It would have been easier to amputate my left leg below the knee, but he gave it his best. I assumed a piece of metal went through the back, left side and out of the right front side of my left calf and splintered all the bones and reduced the length 1-1/4 inches.

At Walter Reed Hospital, they did a bone graft to extend the thumb base by removing the metacarpal bone of the left hand where the index finger would have been and attached it to the thumb base and performed two more surgeries and skin grafts to create a big fat thumb, giving me some opposition. For my left leg, they obtained soft bone grafts from my hip to pack around the splintered tibia and fibula. In between surgeries and recuperating, we would visit D.C. and the areas around D.C., sometimes renting sailboats at Annapolis to take doctors and other patients sailing. The first time we went to rent a sailboat (a 30 footer) all of us were missing legs, limbs, etc. and the rental guy saw us coming and you could tell he was thinking, please do not come here. We were joking about using one guy with two casts as an anchor, etc. After the first trip, we came back many times and brought doctors and other patients. Great fun, feel the sun, wind and feel alive and normal again. We took advantage of the invitations given to us by D.C. residents. Remember this is in 1966 and 1967 prior to the anti-Vietnam era. We had the buddy system. Any new patient coming in was given encouragement. I remember when I got there, I had no civilian clothes, and within two weeks, I had a special crutch for my left forearm with only PJs and an officer’s blue robe. I was taken out of the hospital by patients and staff to an apartment near Walter Reed. I climbed three floors (no elevator) and was soaking wet when I got to the apartment. I sat down, they gave me a beer and I felt and knew I was going to make it. I was alive and living normal with the guys. What a moment and feeling that I could be somewhat normal and everything was looking up. That help from others made me realize I could help other patients and help myself. There are many great and positive events that happened thereafter. It was easy to look around and see someone worse off then you, but the secret was to live as normal a life as you can because everyone has disabilities, physical and mental and you can’t feel sorry for yourself.

You take what life gives you and run with it. I have had a great run and I never looked back. There is not enough space to tell all the stories and events that took place at Walter Reed, i.e., The White House, and sitting in the residence of President Johnson and Lady Bird at parties; the Preakness Horse Race; baseball games and meeting the players; concerts and shows, helping/talking to new patients. We took the bad stuff and turned it into positive things. We had an open bar in the Snake Pit every day at 4:30 and doctors and patients came to it. I do not recall ever feeling sorry for myself and I said only once why me and I never again said that. I was alive and thankful and had my future to look forward to. I was at Walter Reed Hospital for 18 months, and then was medically retired as a Captain. I went to Emory University Law School in Atlanta, Georgia, practiced law for 31 years with Grizzard, Simons and Martin and retired in 2001. Life has been good and I have been blessed.

My golf buddies call me Crash and Burn. If I had the choice to do it again, knowing what I know, I would do it again. I am grateful to have served our country and experienced flying helicopters and meeting and working with everyone in the Army. My father was in the Marine Corps, older brother was in the Air Force and younger brother was in the Navy. God Bless America.

Editor’s note (added after printing): The day after this issue was taken to the printer, a search for Steve Martin’s gunner, P.W. Gamsby, was done. Two phone calls later, Paul W. Gamsby was located living in New Hampshire. Welcome Home Paul!

TRIBUTE by Brandi Irby (daughter of our pilot Bill Irby)

Deep in my mind is a place where I find dark thoughts filled with regret and empathy, thinking on things I was not here for and places I will never see. In my mind, I see it so clearly; I let the feelings seep through me, knowing as the sting of regret hits me, it is so much less than they felt. How could people miss something that my young eyes see so clearly, how could they not see that scorn should have been respect, the hatred love? Had I been there I would have replaced the picket signs with welcoming banners, the fighting with hugs, and yet I can’t. I can’t go back and change what happened, but I can let them know that things have changed. I look at the men who left as boys wanting to be men and came back as men wishing they were boys unable to erase the images they had seen, knowing they would forever hear the voices of friends that they had lost. While I watch them sharing the stories of the good times, I can see the shadows of the bad times lurking in their eyes. Even though I was not there, my respect for these men is untouchable; I will never take for granted what they have done. It is an honor to know them. They are the Vietnam Veterans; they are the men I will never forget.