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Past Events

Veterans Day AAR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The South Missouri Chapter had a very busy and successful Veterans Day Week. On Wednesday Nov.8th a beautifully restored UH-1 H model Huey flew to the College of the Ozarks campus from the Mid America Flight Museum in Mt Pleasant, TX. Along with the AH-1G model Cobra on static display at the CofO and a classroom with Loach and Chinook photos in the Patriotic Education Center, 7 volunteer chapter members spent all day on Thursday briefing over 275 Freshmen class members. They were told about the roles each helicopter played in the Vietnam war and about many personal experiences each pilot had while in Vietnam. The response was very successful with many questions being asked.

 

This event occurred because of John Sorensen’s vision and close relationship with the CofO. His purpose was to have the students understand more of what happened in Vietnam and how important the helicopter was to conducting military operations in SE Asia. In fact, John flew this exact Huey during his service in Vietnam.

 

On Friday morning, the CofO held a Veterans Day memorial at the main flagpole in the center of campus. It was a very special remembrance ceremony made even more so when the Huey slowly circled the crowd before it headed back to Texas. It was a very moving event!

 

On Saturday, the Chapter held its Veterans Day Quarterly meeting in the

Keeter Center. We had a very good turnout with 50 people in attendance. A delicious meal was prepared and served by CofO student staff members. Our main speaker was Dr. Marci Linson, VP of Patriotic Activities and Dean of Admissions. Dr. Linson talked about the many activities on campus that promote core American values, to include Patriotic Education, Military Science courses and the Travel Program. The Travel Program pairs CofO students with Veterans taking them back to battlefields where they fought. Destinations have included Europe and the Pacific from WWII, as well as sites in Vietnam and Korea. The program honors Veterans and helps educate the younger

generation.

 

Next, we heard from Julianna Boldman in the Development Office. Julianna Is Development Manager and oversees our Chapter scholarship Endowment fund which now totals nearly $24,000. Since 2019, 5 students have been awarded scholarships totalling over $3,800. Awardees must be in the Military Science program and have at least a 2.5 GPA. Its goal is to help deserving students graduate debt free.

 

Dr. Brad Johnson, President of the College, then welcomed us and expressed his appreciation for the close ties our VHPA chapter has established with CofO and our involvement in Patriotic Activities on campus.

 

Next, the CofO Chapel Choir under the direction of Gregg Busch, Asst. Professor of Music and Theater, provided an amazing and inspiring choral performance for 45 minutes. The program was a collection of spiritually inspiring hymns designed in honor of Veterans Day. It began with Dr. Busch signing the National Anthem with the Choir in support. It was truly a beautiful performance. Upon completion, the Choir left the risers and joined us for some social time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to everyone who participated in this memorable meeting. We have a unique relationship with College of the Ozarks because we share the fundamental values necessary for America’s success as a beacon of freedom in the world.

 

Chuck Guy

Chapter President

B-29 Restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chuck Guy

Chapter President

Liz and John Sorensen, Pat and Ron Clifton, Connie and Chuck Guy and Wayne Twiehaus presented Chaz with an enlarged and mounted chapter logo for display. Chaz found the perfect place for it so look for it the next time you go there. While it is from our chapter, it represents all those who flew helicopters during Vietnam. The B-29 is located at Hwy 65 and Road J. While there, we enjoyed a delicious lunch and shared stories with her about our experiences as Vietnam helicopter pilots.

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On November 28, several South Misssouri chapter members met at the B-29 restaurant in Ozark. The B-29 is filled from floor to ceiling with displays of military equipment, uniforms, flags, photos and posters from Veterans who served during WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. The owner, Chaz Koeppen, has created an amazing environment to honor all veterans who have served our Country.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

 

Chuck Guy

Chapter President

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.

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.

 

Chuck Guy

Chapter President

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.

 

Chuck

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.

 

Follow College of the Ozarks at www.facebook.com/collegeoftheozarks or on Twitter @CofOHardWorkU.

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