Blackhawks Blog  2017 Blackhawk Reunion
It seems as if the Blackhawk reunions just get better and better. We had a wonderful time in Nashville this year and hope to see everyone next year. I''d like to thank Pat Unger and his lovely wife for all their hard work hosting this year''s reunion. We had the largest reunion ever and it was wonderful seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Be safe and see you next year God willing.

Contributed by: Elvis L Bray
severe weather
Just a note to wish any Blackhawk affected by the recent hurricanes all the best and a brute future !!

Contributed by: Joseph A Dike

Comment: that was meant to be a Brite future. Sorry for the typo
Contributed by: Joseph A Dike

Back in the pilot's seat:
Army pilot reunites with fighter copter in Dixon, IL

By Rachel Rodgers

Sauk Valley Media

This article appeared July 6, 2017 on saukvalley.com-

DIXON - A blackhawk reunited with his cobra after more than 45 years Thursday.

Vietnam War pilot Dayne Smith climbed into the back seat of the Cobra AH-1F fighter helicopter, a bird with more than 3,000 combat hours under its blades, at Veterans Memorial Park.

His helmet from the 7th Squadron in the 1st Air Cavalry - the Blackhawks they were called - sat just a couple feet away.

It was the first time the 70-year-old from Monroeville, Alabama, had been in the cockpit of a Cobra since March 1972 at the tail end of his service in the U.S. Army, which began in May 1971 as a first lieutenant.

"It's beautiful," he said of the helicopter, which the park commission has maintained for the past dozen years.

It was his first visit to the city - he came up with his wife, Dee, following the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association reunion in Indianapolis - but he and a handful of others with ties to the Cobra have provided the commission with photos and accounts of its history.

"He's given us more pictures and more history on this helicopter that we never would have known," commission member Al Wikoff said.

Smith also gave them a diary he kept during his service detailing his 824 combat hours in the air.

"Probably 820 of them were in a Cobra," he said. "Most of that is boredom broken up by moments of stark terror."

The Cobra was equipped with a combination of artillery, including a machine gun and 40mm grenade launcher.

"They were some of the first helicopters to arrive in Vietnam," Wykoff said. "Everyone wanted snake protection."

The chopper has 27 purple hearts painted onto its side, a tally of the number of bullet holes patched up by Crew Chief Mike Peterson, of Eugene, Oregon.

"We really felt invisible and invincible; you never think about getting shot," he said.

Smith said he never took a hit while in the Cobra, but he had had his fair share of close calls while piloting other choppers.

Not long after his arrival in Vietnam, he had a shot go through his boot, just missing his foot.

"It's really loud when the cockpit is hit, like a firecracker in your ears," he said.

In September 1971, he received a rotor chain bracelet, given to helicopter pilots shot down in combat. He still wears it today.

"I wasn't shot down; I was just shot up all to hell and couldn't go anymore," he said.

Other pilots were Jim Drury, Wayne "Tuna" Fisher and Ricky Holder, all from southern states.

The Smiths have been married for nearly 50 years.

"So many times, veterans are the last ones to get noticed," Dee Smith said. "If not for veterans, we might not have a country."



COBRA HISTORY

The following timeline of the Cobra helicopter 67-15475 was gathered by Tom Whelan, who served with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam and was a member of Dixon Veterans Memorial Park Commission. He died in May 2016.

March 1967

Arrived in Vietnam

July 27, 1969

Damaged due to weapon malfunction

1,142 hours combat flown

Feb. 6, 1970

Shot down by heavy enemy ground fire while providing armed escort to medivac helicopters: both crewmen wounded.

1,792 hours combat flown

April 15, 1970

Damaged while providing direct fire support to infantry

July 13, 1970

Shot down by heavy small arms fire while providing support for heavily armed escort mission

2,092 hours combat flown

Jan. 19, 1971

Severely damaged by hostile fire while providing direct escort protection to ground troops

2,471 hours combat flown

July 6, 1971

Damaged by heavy ground fire on a heavily armed escort mission

2,745 hours combat flown

July - December 1971

Flew with 3/17 Cavalry C troop

3,127 hours combat flown

December 1971

Acquired by U.S. Navy maintenance group, taken to Naval Air Station in St. Louis

1972

Taken to Hawaii and issued to 25th Infantry Division barracks

1987

Decommissioned

1972-2005

History is unclear. The helicopter was in the United States, and its tail stencils indicate that it was issued to the Tennessee National Guard.

Aug. 2, 2005

The helicopter, bought 6 months earlier for $6,000, arrives at the Dixon Veterans Memorial Park, from Fort Drum, New York.

COBRA SPECS

Length: 53.1 feet with rotors

Wingspan: 10.8 feet

Width: 3.3 feet

Height: 13.4 feet

Weight: 5 tons

Speed: 195 mph

Range: 315 miles

Crew: 2 (1 pilot and a weapons officer)

Armament: various combinations of Tow Missiles, Hydra 70 Rockets, 20 mm Cannon



Contributed by: Richard K. Holden
Story
You can disregard my other post about people I was looking for. I determined that James L. French has passed away. I was able to locate the other men I was looking for ,that were still alive, that flew the mission with Jerry Free. Jerry completed his story and you will be able to read it in the Hawktalk. It is a good story and Jerry did a good job researching and writing the story. Thanks, and I hope I see you in Nashville this year.

Contributed by: Elvis L Bray
Looking for a member
I''m looking for a Scout Observer with B troop (68-69) named E-5 James L. French also know as "Frenchy." He was the observer who flew James Hilton to safety when he got wounded on Jan 4th, 1969. French received a Distinguished Flying medal for the incident. He is not on our rooster or on the KIA or silent spurs list. If any one knows how to contact him, please let me know.
elvisbray04@gmail.com
FYI: I''m also having a hard time contacting James Hilton. Our contact info is incorrect. I mailed him a letter today.

Contributed by: Elvis L Bray

Comment: Disregard request

Contributed by: Elvis L Bray
Blackhawk Story
I also need any information about a man named Rick or Donald Squires who was with the Blackhawks. There is a Donald Squires listed on our roosters as a WO-1 with B troop but his contact information is incorrect. I spoke to a man named Donald Squires who claims his cousin, Rick Squires, was with the 7th/1st Air Cav and has passed away. He is not listed on our KIA or Silver Spurs list.

Contributed by: Elvis L Bray

Comment: Disregard comment
Contributed by: Elvis L Bray
Help with Blackhawk story
Guys, I need information about the mission on 1/4/1969 when Jerry Free and James Hilton''s Loaches got shot down and Gary Falk was killed. I need to talk to anyone who knew Gary. I need to find out who the co-pilot and gunner was that was on the C&C ship with Maj. Thompson and his crew chief, Mike Thompson, and I need to find out who was flying co-pilot with Ed Hinderks in his Cobra when they picked up Jerry Free and transported him to the C&C helicopter. If you have any details about this mission, please call me at 480-209-8244 or email me at elvisbray04@gmail.com. Thanks, Elvis Bray

Contributed by: Elvis L Bray

Comment: Disregard comment...Jerry completed his story.
Contributed by: Elvis L Bray

John Brennan's New Book
Gentlemen, one B/7/1 aircraft photo is showcased in Vietnam War Army Helicopter Nose Art, which will be released on September 28th, 2017, from Fonthill Media. The book's approximate total photo-count will likely be around 295. Let me know by email at johnmailman@yahoo.com if you would like to receive pre-sale ordering instructions towards the purchase of an author-signed copy of this book. Please consider offering a copy to your local library, a friend, or a relative. Thank you, John Brennan, former SP5, 114 AHC, 1970-71, Vinh Long AAF, Mekong Delta.
PS: The author's six previously published books contains fourteen 7/1st photos. Please share this info with your respective Association members.

Contributed by: Michael E. Peterson
Nashville Reunion
Just received room reservation list from Guesthouse Inn & Suites. They have 51 rooms already reserved. This looks like it could be the biggest reunion. We have never had this many rooms booked so far in advance before. There are a few new names that I do not know.

Contributed by: Richard C Kloepfer

Vietnam Vet Radio
Hey Blackhawks, this will take you back to those times long past. Music from our youth and time in Di An and Vinh Long.
Check out this streaming radio station...

Contributed by: Richard K. Holden
Need Some Help
Hi Fellow Blackhawks,
At the Sacramento Reunion Chris Miller and Mike Haus, from the Vietnam Helicopters Museum, brought their Huey to Sacramento and took over 100 of us up for rides in it. They did this at no cost to us and would not take donations. Now we have an opportunity to help them out. They have had an ongoing dispute with the management of Buchanan Field Airport, in Concord, California. The airport management does not like helicopters and does not want them there at the airport. They have been discriminated against and excluded in efforts to secure hangar space. The managements actions are against airport and FAA regulations and policies. They currently have four aircraft flying and are working on 22 more,Huey''s,LOH''s and Cobras, so it is apparent they need hangar space. We can help them out by writing letters, e-mailing or calling airport management, county commissioners, congressional representatives and the FAA. Let them know that we are supporting the Vietnam Helicopters Museum and they should have the opportunity to get hangar space at the airport. If you would like to help them out, send me an e-mail at Blackhawk15475@gmail.com and I will send you the list of people to contact and their contact information. Thank you in advance for the help. I know Chris and Mike will appreciate our help in this matter.
Blackhawks Membership Director
Mike Peterson

Contributed by: Michael E. Peterson
Agent Orange
I am curious to learn if our association has had any conversations concerning Agent Orange. I am having an interesting medical experience which I feel (and the VA has "commented on")is the result of exposure to Agent Orange either at Vinh Long or when C Troop went up to Quang Tri province. I apologize if I have made spelling errors, it has been a few years and I put any negative experiences of my Viet Nam tour, experiences in the back of my brain when I returned to the world and went on and had a very fulfillinglife.

Contributed by: Eugene Robert Maule
Vietnam War Commemoration
I just found out about this program! It provides a Veteran Lapel Pin. Is the organization aware of this?

Contributed by: Norman H Peebles
Blackhawk reunion
The author of the book, "Operation Babylift," Aryn Lockhart, will be joining us at the reunion. If you haven''t read her book, you are missing out. It is about President Ford''s decision to remove all the orphans from Saigon and Vinh Long at the very end of the Vietnam War. He called it Operation Babylift and ordered a bunch of large Air-force planes to fly out the orphans as the city of Saigon was falling. Several planes made it out ok but one had the rear doors blow open in flight because of a mechanical failure and some of the babies were sucked out of the plane. The plane tried to make it back to the Airport in Saigon but crashed in a rice patty. Some of the nuns and many of the bases died in the crash. The head nurse helped evacuate the survivors and get them back to the airport when another plane rescued them.
Ayn Lockhart was one of those babies. She came from the orphanage at Vign Long. She was adopted by an American family and raised without knowledge of the crash. When she grew up, she searched her past and located the head nurse on the plane. They became close friends and then like mother and daughter. They went back to Vietnam and visited the crash site, the grave of the nun who had adopted Aryn out to the American family and was killed in the plane crash. This is a part of Vietnam history most of us know little about. I invited Aryn to come visit us at the reunion and asked her to bring some of her books for us to purchase. She wants to meet the men who helped the orphanage she came from, see your photos, an hear your stories about Vinh Long. She is doing research for another book and wants to interview some of the Blackhawks veterans for research of her new book. This is our chance to tell the world what the "Vietnam baby killers" really did to help the children of Vietnam. I''m am so excited to meet this amazing woman.

Contributed by: Elvis L Bray
1st Aviation Brigade 50th Anniversary, May 12-15
Hey Fellow Black Hawks: The 1st Av Bde was our senior aviation Hqs in Vietnam and the Bde is now stationed at Ft Rucker, AL. On May 12-15 at Ft Rucker the Bde will celebrate the 50th Anniversary. A great program is being put together that includes a picnic, post tours, a great look at the aviation training facilities, briefings on current Army aviation equipment, training displays, a little simulator time on the new stuff, static aircraft displays, and a memorial service on the morning of the 15th. Also, UH-1 Huey rides at no, or a nominal cost are being planned. The cost is minimal, $55 per person includes all the activities. It would be great if some of us Black Hawks can attend and have a mini reunion as we celebrate of service. I''m planning to attend. Please let me know if you will attend at mserletic1@mac.com. Details and sign up instructions are at the web link below.
https://13thdeltacombataviationbattalion.shutterfly.com

Contributed by: Matthew M Serletic

Maj. David Thompson
This is a Thank You from Maj.Thompson''s wife for the Plaque. It was forwarded to me by Michael Thompson, He is the Blackhawk that presented the plaque to the family.

Contributed by: Michael E. Peterson
Blackhawk''s "Tiny" Tennessee Star
Well, no one else has posted on the site lately, so I will add another post. A lot of our members probably do not know we have a "Tiny" Star Celebrity that lives just East of Nashville, Tennessee. His Wife sent me the two links about our celebrity. I have added them to this post for you to click on and see. The first is a newspaper article about our "Tiny" Star. Make sure you click on the pictures to see each of them. The second is an interview where you get to hear his famous voice. Have fun looking. Now it is time for some one else to post on our site.

1. click to view the Article

2. click to view the Interview

Contributed by: Michael E. Peterson
2015 Reunion in Sacramento,Ca
Another reunion is in our history book. I hope everyone had as good a time as I did. I am posting some information about the reunion that you may not be aware of. We had many donors that made this reunion a big success. Mike Haus and Chris Miller, form the Vietnam Helicopters Museum, Provided the 25th Infantry Huey for our rides. They provide this service at no charge as a Thank You to the Vietnam Veterans. The fuel for our rides was provided by Jim Miller from Pacific Valley Aviation Arbuckle,CA. The Bell Jet Ranger was provided by A & P Helicopters from Richvale,Ca. The Museum tour was by Dann Stears from Museum Of The Forgotten Warriors, Marysville, Ca. The static display was provided by Northern California Veterans Historical Association from Redding, CA. The Jeep display was by Larry Brown from Redding,CA. Many raffle prizes were donated by local businesses. I hope I haven''t forgotten any one. I feel a big Thank You is in order from our members to these fine people that helped with our reunion. Below is a list of how to contact them.

Vietnam Helicopters Museum
Get on the Blackhawks site (www.blackhawkassn.org) Go to links and click on it. Click on Air Vectors. This will bring up the site for Vietnam Helicopters Museum. Next scroll down to recent videos and click on 7th Armored Squadron 1st Air Cavalry Regiment. Click on read more (after you see the pictures). Scroll down to leave a comment and add you comments and Thank You. To see information about the Huey and its Medevac mission at the 2011 Reno Air Races, go to categories and click on Published Articles. Next click on One More Mission.

Jim Miller can be reached at Pacific Valley Aviation, 1707 Lone Star Road, Arbuckle, Ca 95921

A & P Helicopters and be reached at www.aphelicopters.com

Museum Of The Forgotten warriors can be reached at www.museumoftheforgottenwarriors.org

Northern California Veterans Historical Association can be reached at www.norcalvha.org I believe Larry Brown can be reached through them.

All of you members can post your thoughts and impressions of the reunion (or anything else) on this site. Lets see some more stuff on here from someone other than me. It''s easy to post on our site.( If I can do it, anyone can)

Contributed by: Michael E. Peterson
De-Classified Documents 7th Armored Squadron 1st Air Cavalry
Several fellow Blackhawks at the last reunion asked me where to go on the internet to view de-classified documents for the Blackhawks. I had this up on our old web site and will put it up again. First get on Google and type in www.dtic.mil . When the page comes up, you will see two boxes at the top of the page. In the top box on the left, type in All Occasions. In the box on the right, type in 7th Armored Squadron 1st Air Cavalry. Click on the search box and quite a few PDF "Lessons Learned" will come up. Each one has a date with it. This will give you an idea of the time period you are looking at. I believe they were sent in quarterly. There is a lot of typical military stuff to wade through(Distribution etc). Then there is troop strength, how many helicopters each troop had, how many medals we were put in for etc. After this, is a lot of daily information, who did what and where. I found the exact date "C" Troop left Dian and moved to Vinh Long, the date LTC Canady was shot in the leg and sent home. There are detailed hand done drawings of infantry operations. There is a lot of information here, but takes some time to dig it out. These Lessons Learned reports run from Ft. Knox, Ky, under LTC Canady in 1967 to 1970 under the command of LTC Jack Woodmansee. Like I said, there is a lot of military stuff to wade through, but there is also a lot of information about our daily operations and our history recorded here. Good luck in your search of our history. If you have trouble with it, please contact me and I will help. Have fun looking.

Mike Peterson

Contributed by: Michael E. Peterson
Vietnam Memorial in Colorado
Hi Blackhawks,
I recently received an e-mail from Gary Buck in Australia.It had a link to a very interesting you tube video taken by some dirt bikers. It is of a little known and obscure Vietnam Memorial on the Continental Divide of the Rockies in Colorado. When you look at the video, make note of the rounds of ammunition and coins placed between the stones. They were put there by people that have visited the site. Click here to view the video. After seeing the video, I was curious and did some research. I discovered the Memorial was built by LTC.(retired) Stuart Allan Beckley, from San Antonio, TX. He built this entirely at his own expense. It is located on Forest Service land, with their permission. It was completed in 1995, shortly before he passed on. In addition to the main monument, there are more than 30 stones placed in the area. With a little bit of internet research, you should be able to find directions to it. Here is a link that gives you the information and history of the Memorial.
I hope everyone enjoys seeing this as much as I did. Have fun looking and thanks a bunch to Gary Buck for sending it in.
Mike Peterson

Contributed by: Michael E. Peterson
Reunion Videos
Hey Fellow Blackhawks If you have video you would like to share on our website, please contact the webmaster for assistance.

Contributed by: Richard K. Holden

LT.COL. Cortland B. Stark Service
Monday June 15, 2015

Contributed by: Michael E. Peterson
Vietnam Short Stories
Hey Guys, I'm putting together a book of Vietnam short stories for a fundraiser for Operation Wounded Veterans. This is part of my American Legion Post in Queen Creek AZ. We collect money and buy items requested by the retuning Veterans at the hospital in San Diego, California. 100% of all monies goes directly to the Vets. I have 8 good stories now and am looking for another 12 or so, but will use more if I get them. I want everyone who served in Vietnam to be represented. I have stories from Army, Marines, Air Force and Special Forces stories so far. I want one from the military women's grope, one from a nurse, some from the Navy, Australia, and New Zealand.
If you feel you have a good story but not a good writer, I'll help you write your story. Don't let our stories die with us. Leave some for you kids and grandchildren. For examples of stories I'm looking for, see Ben Bentley's, 'Escape From The Darkness' on 'Our Stories' site. That will be one of the stories in the book. You can also go to my website at elvisbrayauthor.com and see a few more there.
Thanks, Elvis Bray @ elvisbray04@gmail.com

Contributed by: Elvis L Bray
Medals and Awards
Hi Fellow Blackhawks,

Here is some information for the people that didn''t get all of their medals and Awards. I have discovered that your medals and awards can be re-issued to you one time. ( they will re-issue all of the items shown on your DD214) Obtain the Standard Form 180, "Request Pertaining to Military Records". It is available from many Gov. offices or on line. For on line, type in http://www.archives.gov/research/order/standard-form-180.pdf . You can print this form from here. The back side of the form has the information of where to send requests. To have your medals re-issued , go to the front side of the form under section II "Information and /or Documents Requested". Go to the box "Other"(Specify) and check it. Write in "please re-issue all of my medals awards, commendation and citations. After completing the form completely and signing it, send it to number 14 ( on the back side of form) National Personnel Records Center (Military Personnel Records) 9700 Page Ave. St. Louis, Mo 63132-5100. I have done this with my medals and awards. It takes 2 to 3 months. Our original medals( example crew chief wings) that were awarded were Sterling Silver. The new ones are now Silver tone, not silver.They do not issue the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.( If you got this one, it was issued by the Vietnamese Gov.) It can be purchased by you from Medals of America. (www.MedalsofAmerica.com or phone at 1-800-308-0849) You can contact them and they will send their catalog. I hope this helps some of you guys out.If you have trouble with the form contact me and I will help you fill it out.



Mike Peterson

Membership Director

Contributed by: Michael E. Peterson

Blackhawk Cobra
I was searching the web for interesting aviation pictures and came across this picture of a Blackhawks Cobra with our Squadron insignia on the engine cowling. The picture is posted on AirVectors website. There is a link to that website on our links page.

Contributed by: Richard K. Holden

Colors
Colors of the 7th of the 1stMaj Rodriguez with flag
Maj Rodriguez with flag
Here are a couple pictures of the "Colors" of the 7th of the 1st. A lot of the people in the unit have never seen them. I took the pictures at the Ft. Rucker reunion several years ago.That is the first time I ever saw them. The members of the unit all chipped in about $2500 to have them made. They are at all of our reunions. There are 89 campaign ribbons attached to them dating from the Indian wars Civil War WW1 WW2 etc up through many we added in Vietnam.Our original "Colors" were turned in by Ron Hill when he was Commander on our return to Ft. Knox. I believe they are on display in St. Louis.The first picture shows the face of the flag.The second shows Maj. Rodriguez on the right holding one corner up. (He was the CO of "C": Troop when I was with the unit.)He recently passed on to Fiddlers' Green.

Contributed by: Michael E. Peterson

Comment: To: Mike Peterson and Ed Thomas:
Is it possible to get a listing of our 86 Campaign Ribbons as to what each one was? I am sure everyone would be interested. Thanks, Andy Knight
Contributed by: Andrew M Knight
VA plan to cut claims backlog
By Rick Maze
The Veterans' Affairs Department initiative to quickly and dramatically reduce the claims backlog is making it a priority to process files that have been pending for two years or longer.Read More...

Contributed by: Michael E. Peterson
Auditor: VA needs to cut delays, costs with new veterans hos
By Associated Press
WASHINGTON- Government auditors told a House panel Tuesday that efforts to build four veterans medical centers are taking on average about three years longer to complete than estimated and costing an additional $366 million per project.Read More...

Contributed by: Michael E. Peterson
Former VA Official: Obamacare Puts Vets at Risk
Some data suggest that veterans receiving care from both VA and non-VA sources are more likely to be re-hospitalized and to die within a year compared with VA-only users.Read Full Story....

Contributed by: Michael E. Peterson
Man who claims to be lost soldier found in Vietnam is a frau
His name appears on panel 64E, Line 8 of the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial as Killed In Action. But is he still living in Southeast Asia?Read Full Story....

Contributed by: Michael E. Peterson
Social Security Benefits For Vets
Special Extra Earnings for Military Service If you served on active duty any time from 1957 through 2001 (the program was done away with 1 January 2002), you may qualify for a higher social security payment because of your Military service. Up to $1200 per year of earnings credit can be credited at time of application - which can make a substantial difference in social security monthly payments upon your retirement. You MUST bring your DD-214 to the Social Security Office and you must ask for this benefit to receive it! Soc Sec website: http://www.ssa.gov/retire2/military.htm

Contributed by: Richard K. Holden

Comment: This could make a big difference for many Vietnam vets!
Contributed by: Richard K. Holden