Vietnam helicopter pilots to be honored Saturday

Joe Startt Jr.

DOVER — According to Vietnam Veterans of America, pilots of UH-1 “Huey” helicopters helped transport more than 900,000 soldiers during the Vietnam War, saving lives over and over again.

The Vietnam Dustoff Association, also known as “a flight of rusty eagles,” will be in Dover for its national convention this week, and members will be honored Saturday at the Veterans Memorial Park.

A ceremony for members of the helicopter crews will take place at 10 a.m. under the UH-1 on display at the park. Obtained from the federal government after years of work by Paul Davis, vice president of Kent County Chapter 850 of Vietnam Veterans of America, the copter serves as a reminder to the sacrifices made during Vietnam.

“That others may live” was the slogan of the UH-1 helicopter crews who flew into firefights to rescue wounded soldiers.

“More than two hundred of their number paid the ultimate price saving lives in Vietnam. They are our brothers who traded their tomorrow for our today,” Joe Startt Jr., president of Chapter 850, said in a statement.

“We will always honor and revere them and we hope to see our brother and sister Vietnam veterans from across the state join us.”

Mr. Startt experienced firsthand the bravery of Huey crew members when he was wounded in 1969.

“I remember being told to hold on, help was on the way. The ‘whop, whop, whop’ of the rotor’s beat was like an angel’s voice telling me I’d survive,” he said.

Saturday’s ceremony will be open to the public.

Afterward, the Dustoff crews will be transported to Dover Air Force Base for lunch where they will be greeted by representatives of the 436th Airlift Wing followed by a special tour of the AMC Museum.

Levy Court Lane adjacent to the park will be closed to traffic because of displays but there will be parking in the adjacent lots with transportation for the disabled available via golf carts.
In case of inclement weather the ceremony will be held in the County Administration Building.

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