September Meeting AAR
Our first guest was Cyndi Moloney, Webmaster of our chapter website and daughter of Karen and Don Merritt. Cyndi faithfully supports the website whenever needed and also assures that our license and domain name are up to date.
We were honored to have our next two guests who share similar and unique experiences in aviation history. Wilburn Rowden and Ralph Kalberloh were B-17 air crewmembers during WWII. Wilburn was a waist gunner/ radio operator on Sleepy Time Gal and Ralph was a tail gunner on Dixie’s Delight. Wilburn was on his 6th mission on March 8, 1944, and Ralph on his first mission on February 4, 1945. They were shot down by flak and fighters and were forced to bail out. Fortunately, they both survived and became POWs. Today, Wilburn is 100 years of age and Ralph is 98. They were accompanied by family members- Ralph by Barb his wife and Wilburn by Sarah Miller his daughter.
The stories of their dedicated service to our Country and their survival as POWs under extremely difficult conditions is inspiring. As combat helicopter pilots, we rendered our respect, admiration and recognition for their service, patriotism and sacrifice. Accordingly, Ralph and Wilburn were elected Honorary Members of the South Missouri Chapter of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Assn.
Credit for bringing us all together that day goes to John Clark, COL USAF Ret. an Honorary Member of our chapter. John was a POW during the Vietnam War for 2,170 days in Hanoi’s infamous prison better known as the Hanoi Hilton to almost 600 Americans held captive there.
Understanding the cost of that operation, he paused and asked for a moment of silence for those helicopter crewmembers who did not return. Bob later became commander of a Facility Checking Squadron flying Lockheed Jetstars and retired in 1973. Subsequently, he became a DC-3 Captain and then a company Safety Supervisor and pilot of a Beech Baron. His last flight was in 2019 when he logged the last of his 10,500 flying hours, over half of which were in the Air Force. Thank you, Bob for a great presentation.
The third Friday in September has been designated as POW/MIA Recognition Day by the Pentagon. This year it is on Friday the 15th. Today, approximately 82,000 are still unaccounted for from conflicts dating as far back as WWII. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency remains committed to providing the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel. Please acknowledge the day and the missing by flying your flag at half-staff.
Our next meeting will be held at the College of the Ozarks on Veterans Day November 11th at 1100 in the Silver Dollar City Parlor. The CofO choir, under the direction of Mr. Gregg Busch, will sing for us after lunch. More details to follow.
The September meeting of the South Missouri chapter of VHPA was held in Jefferson City on the 8th at Madison’s Café. We had a speaker, Bob Depperman LTC USAF Ret, and several other special guests.
Upon his return to the States, Wilburn attended a trade school to learn communications and electronics. Upon graduation, he joined the Missouri Army National Guard and retired as a CW4 in 1983 after 38 years of service. He was later inducted into the Missouri National Guard Hall of Fame.
Ralph worked in the auto industry and was head of the Missouri Automobile Dealers Assn.
for over 30 years. He was known nationwide for enhancing laws regarding safety in the auto industry and hired a lobbyist to help him change or create laws that would enhance auto safety.
Though we did not use TACAN and, with few exceptions, did not fly IFR, there were times when a PAR/GCA approach meant an Army helicopter made it down safely in bad weather. Bob spent 2 years flying between Clark AFB in the Phillipines and Phan Rang in EC-47s inspecting all navigation aids. Bob remembers one particular flight when, breaking out of the clouds, he saw a “swarm” of Army helicopters. It was during operation Lam Son 719.
Our speaker Bob Depperman, who was accompanied by his wife Ruth, has an impressive list of aviation accomplishments. After graduation from flight school in 1955 he began flying the C-119 Flying Boxcar and later the C-124 Globemaster. He went to Air Traffic Control school followed by the FAA Academy for qualification as a Flight Inspection Pilot. Flight Inspection services were required to assure the accuracy and reliability of all TACAN, ILS and PAR/GCA navigation systems throughout Vietnam.
The meeting gave me the opportunity to introduce VHPA to the 75 people in attendance and to explain that we are dedicated to enhancing the esprit-de-corps and traditions of valor of rotary wing aircrews that flew in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam era. I also told them of the monument in Arlington Cemetery dedicated to the over 4,700 helicopter crew members lost during the conflict.
On June 22, the South Missouri Chapter held a quarterly meeting at the Missouri National Guard Aviation Logistics Facility and AVCRAD at the Springfield airport. It was a joint meeting which included the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) and the local Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America. We were welcomed by Maj Jeff Godfrey, the acting Commander, who gave us a detailed briefing on the functions of the recently completed Facility which provides Blackhawk and Chinook maintenance services to Guard Aviation units in 14 regional States. The facility is one of only 4 across the Country. It assures a high level of Aviation readiness, saves the Guard millions of dollars and contributes $23 million dollars annually to the local economy.
The program began with the presentation of awards to 10 local employers for their outstanding support of a Guard or Reserve service member in their employ. ESGR has been supporting service members for over 50 years which has resulted in a significant improvement in employer support for their employees who may have need for unscheduled training during normal working hours and/or, occasionally, deployment.
Many thanks to Maj Godfrey, his entire staff and the Missouri Army Guard for their support for this event.
We enjoyed a very good barbecue lunch followed by a tour of the main facility where we found Blackhawks and Chinooks, in various stages of disassembly. The facility has a state-of-the-art shop for inspection and repair of rotor blades; a modern washing, stripping and painting shop; a wiring harness assembly department for both helicopters and a shop that disassembles, inspects/repairs and reassembles Blackhawk hoist units. All were amazed at what they do there and our pilots, in particular, were very glad to be around and on helicopters again. At least 8 of our members worked there or flew in and out of the facility over the course of their careers in the Missouri Guard.
Next, Maj Godfrey made it possible for us and our spouses to have a ride on a Blackhawk which for most of us was the first time on that amazing helicopter. No more round dials! Technology has taken over. Needless to say, there were many smiles as we got off the helicopter. The memories came flooding back with a whiff of turbine exhaust.
2023 Second Quarter Meeting
On March 11th, the South Missouri Chapter met at Jack Stack’s barbecue restaurant in downtown Kansas City. We had a very good turnout with 35 attendees. As always, the brisket, ribs, chicken and sides were the BEST!
Our speaker was Bob Huff who was a Huey Crew Chief and Door Gunner with the 3rd BDE, 9th Infantry at Tan An ’69-‘70. They flew resupply and C & C missions. In addition, they also flew many Night Hawk missions. This involved mounting a xenon light and a minigun and flying search and destroy operations at night. On one particular mission, Bob and the crew he flew with volunteered to attempt a rescue of ARVN troops who were pinned down and taking heavy casualties. It was a dark night and raining heavily. That night, they made four sorties under fire to bring out the dead, injured and remaining troops. For this action, Bob was awarded the Bronze Star and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm. At the end of his regular tour, Bob extended for 5 months so that he would exit Vietnam and the Army at the same time.
What he did some years later, however, was very interesting. In 1998 Bob, his wife Kathleen and their children went to Vietnam and stayed for 20 years. While their faith motivated them to go, they were not allowed to enter as missionaries so they administered a US Aid funded project which gave them an approved reason to stay. Over the next 5 years, they provided vocational training for over 2,000 adolescents with disabilities. Their goal was to train them in practical skills which could be used by employers in public sector businesses. A final evaluation of the project revealed that more than 98% of their trainees were still working 5 years later. The government then continued the program.
Their next goal was to start the Da Nang International Church where Bob became a fulltime pastor. At the beginning of this effort, Bob was arrested for holding illegal meetings, but the church was allowed to exist because of the success of the training program for the disabled.
In later years they were allowed to have a Christmas pageant with over 1,000 attendees.
Under Kathleen’s guidance, they started a Deaf Ministry and Training project. To facilitate the transfer of training to daily life, they opened the Bread of Life Restaurant and Bakery as a means of reaching the deaf community. The deaf were trained as bakers, chefs and baristas. As they were providing another successful service, not offered by the government, they were once again allowed to keep their visas.
During this period Bob spent much of his time teaching Bible classes and pastoring to minority pastors from the mountains.
With a PowerPoint presentation, Bob showed us how much Vietnam has changed since we left. Vietnam is considered to be a first-class tourist destination with beautiful beaches and 5 Star hotels. During their time in Vietnam, Bob and Kathleen said that many people they worked with in their projects and churches remember and appreciate what America did during the war.
Next, John Sorensen, Treasurer, discussed the SMOVHPA Chapter Scholarship endowment at College of the Ozarks which now stands at over $20,500. Each year the College awards a scholarship to deserving students which fulfills our Chapter goal of supporting future generations. If possible, preference is given to students in the Gold Bar ROTC program. Typically, donations are raised by selling raffle tickets at each quarterly meeting. The raffle is for a patriotic quilt made by our Chapter quilters and awarded at our annual Veterans Day meeting at College of the Ozarks.
Plans are in the works for meetings in June, September and November
with details to follow once they are firmed up.
Thank you for your continued support of the Chapter and its goal of enhancing the cohesiveness, esprit de corps and traditions of valor of rotary wing crews that flew in SE Asia during the Vietnam era.
SOMOVHPA 1st Quarter Meeting
The November meeting was held in the Keeter Center at the College of the Ozarks (CofO) near Branson, MO. We had a good turnout of 40 attendees, including Dr. Jerry Davis the Chancellor and his wife Shirley and the new President of CofO Dr. Brad Johnson and his wife Laura.
After the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer, offered by Ron Clifton our Chaplain, the meeting began with a Folded Wing Ceremony conducted by Don Merritt and his wife Karen. This ceremony honors the memory of 19 of our members who have passed since the founding of the chapter. As each name was read, a bell was struck. Upon completion, TAPS was played and a final prayer was offered by the Chaplain. These fellow aviators fought with us, fought for us and are remembered by us.
Our speaker for the meeting was CW5 (ret) Greg McManus. Greg started his flying career in Vietnam in 1969 where he flew Cobra gunships and Hueys. He joined the Missouri National Guard in 1974 where he served as an Instructor Pilot, Standardization Pilot, Instrument Examiner and Aviation Safety Officer. He then served in Iraq from 2005 to 2007 where he developed tactical SOPs that are still in use by Army commands in SW Asia. Over his career, Greg accumulated over 16,200 flying hours in both airplanes and helicopters. In addition, he is the only Warrant Officer to attend and graduate from the Army’s Command and General Staff College.
Greg’s Powerpoint program documented his personal experiences in both Vietnam and Iraq and reminded us of the purpose and challenges of military service, as well as the ultimate costs we bear. It brought back memories of our own personal experiences in Vietnam and of those with whom we served. It was an excellent presentation.
Next, newly inaugurated CofO President Dr. Brad Johnson welcomed us to the campus and thanked us for our service to the Country. The CofO is a strong supporter of Patriotism having it as one of the 5 Fundamental Mission Pillars. To support this Pillar, the College has established the Knight Center for Patriotic Education. In addition, the military museum in the Keeter Center honors many CofO graduates who served with distinction and paid the ultimate price for Freedom in every major conflict for over 100 years.
John Sorensen gave a detailed Treasurer’s report which found the Chapter in a positive financial position. He then related that our Chapter endowment with the CofO has now grown to $20,355. The interest generated from the endowment allows the Chapter to award annual scholarships to deserving CofO students.
The drawing for our annual fundraiser was won by Don Merritt. He received a beautiful quilt made by our chapter quilters. Money raised by the raffle goes to our CofO scholarship endowment fund.
The Chapter meets quarterly at locations of aviation and/or military interest and is open to all members and spouses, as well as anyone interested in Joining us. We have members all around the State of Missouri and try to hold our meetings in different areas of the State to facilitate attendance. Anyone wanting to know more about us or anyone who has an idea for a meeting location may contact me at 520-820-7339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chuck Guy, Chapter President
The Patriotic Education Dept. has developed a kit to send to high schools who wish to add patriotic education to their curriculum and expand awareness of the value of military service. John Sorensen was presented with a kit containing a copy of Dr. Davis’s book Vietnam 101, a workbook for classroom application and a DVD of an interview John gave to the school on his Vietnam experiences. The presentation was made by Dr. Brad Johnson, Dr. Jerry Davis and Dr. Andrew Bolger.
A business meeting was then conducted beginning with the award of a quilt to Dr. Jerry Davis, Chancellor of the CofO.
The quilt was made by Liz Sorensen, Pat Clifton and Kathleen Sherfey and presented in appreciation of our long, personal relationship with Dr. Davis and his strong patriotic support for veterans and the U.S. military.
One of our attendees was Jim Osborn who is one of the earliest Chapter members. This was the first meeting Jim had ever attended and we were very glad to meet him. It was also nice to see members bring family members with them.
John Sorensen, the official greeter.
Owensville Post did a great job.
John Sorensen holds court.
John Sorensen, the official greeter.
June 2022 - 2nd Quarterly Meeting of the VHPASMO
College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis spurs resolution to acknowledge Vietnam Veterans
Congressmen Dan Crenshaw, Jason Smith champion worthy legislation
September 29, 2021
POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis called for a resolution to acknowledge the courage and sacrifice of Vietnam Veterans in his recently published book Vietnam 101. Congressman Dan Crenshaw, of the Texas Second Congressional District, put forth this legislation inspired by Vietnam 101 in Congress September 28, and if accepted, the joint resolution will result in a formal apology to Vietnam Veterans for the treatment they received upon returning home. The Bill was co-sponsored by Missouri Congressman Jason Smith of Missouri’s Fourth Congressional District.
“Vietnam is America’s unfinished business,” Davis said. “We owe Vietnam Veterans a formal apology. This resolution aims to offer Veterans and families the closure and honor they deserve. This is not about political parties — Democrats or Republicans — it’s about right or wrong.”
“Those of us (99 percent of the population) who have our freedom preserved by the one percent in uniform need to acknowledge how Vietnam Veterans and their families were treated before it’s too late. This still matters and must be addressed,” Davis said.
The Resolution was assigned a number — HJR 59. To follow its progress, visit https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-joint-resolution/59?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22HJr59%22%2C%22HJr59%22%5D%7D&s=1&r=1
To read the resolution, visit https://www.congress.gov/117/bills/hjres59/BILLS-117hjres59ih.pdf
In Section 1 of the Resolution, Crenshaw and Smith put forward a Resolution of Apology to Veterans of the Vietnam War:
The United States, acting through Congress—
(1) recognizes the extraordinary sacrifice of veterans of the Vietnam war and commends them for their unwavering and courageous sacrifice to our Nation;
(2) urges the President of the United States to formally acknowledge the widespread mistreatment of veterans of the Vietnam war;
(3) on behalf of the American people, issues the long-overdue formal apology to veterans of the Vietnam war and their families for the mistreatment they endured during and after the war; and
(4) expresses urgent support for increased education in our Nation’s schools to better reflect the courage and sacrifice of veterans of the Vietnam war and the lack of support back home.
To show your support of the Resolution and the efforts of College of the Ozarks, visit: cofo.edu/resolution
For additional information, contact Public Relations Director Valorie Coleman at (417) 690-2212.
About College of the Ozarks
College of the Ozarks is a private, Christian, liberal arts college, located in Point Lookout, Missouri, on a 1,000-acre campus. Christian values, hard work, and financial responsibility comprise the fundamental building blocks of the “Hard Work U.” experience. The College earns numerous accolades yearly, including No. 1 Most Innovative School in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report for 2021 and No. 1 Best Bang for the Buck by Washington Monthly. To achieve its vision, the College pursues academic, vocational, Christian, patriotic, and cultural goals. These goals are mirrored in School of the Ozarks, a laboratory school that completes the K-college model.
The Keeter Center — the College’s award-winning lodge, restaurant, and conference facility — earns TripAdvisor® Traveler’s Choice Awards annually. It features historic lodging, fine dining, and meeting rooms. With more than 350 student workers, it is the largest workstation on campus.