• Philip Freeze

Activity Report of the North Alabama Chapter, VHPA November 30, 2021

Several members attended attending the First Cobra Hall Reunion in Savannah, GA. Many of the events got cancelled but aviators can still have fun. We only had 4 of the NAVHPA chapter members, Bob Monette, Chuck Canfield, Marshall Eubanks and Sam Maki attend. Eubanks and Maki were RVing. And only 2 of us were Snake Drivers. Perhaps Canfield and Eubanks figured us Snake Pilots needed adult leadership from Huey pilots, so they came along. Because some of us have been to Savannah before, we didn't join in some of the events. But we did enjoy the great Low Country Boil. The folks that set it up did a fine job. There were some great speakers and slides of Cobras and Vietnam. Oh, to be a young stud puppy again!

After the Cobra Hall Reunion, while camping near Bonifay, Florida, the Maki's were notified of a death in the family. Sam checked with Gulf State Park and informed them of the situation and the Eubanks and Maki's got in early. This helped the Maki's leave their trailer and head back to Huntsville to attend the funeral. On the way Sam's diesel Ford took a dump. Limped into the Ford dealer in Birmingham, AL, rented a car and made it home for all the services. After paying a bill from hell, the Maki's and diesel headed back to Gulf Shores. Due to many things happening to the "normal RVer's", this year wasn't normal. But we overcame it all and still had a great time. Every evening we had a gathering at someone's rig. Even had a shrimp fest of our own. Marshall did some "Shrimp Mercedes". We managed to eat 10 lbs. of shrimp. Look up that recipe. One evening the Haas's made a great German meal. Another evening the Bisson's made a Taco Soup. No one starved, that's for sure. Most of us headed for home on October 27th. As always, it was a great time.

While many members were off camping, October 2021 provided the North Alabama Chapter the opportunity for another great day of support from the NAVHPA and BUC-3 to our community. We were asked by one of our sponsors, YULISTA, to support their annual Response and Emergency Team ‘Training and Demonstrations’ for the third year running; and of course, we said YES. We towed BUC-3 to the Huntsville Executive Airport on October 26th. The event, held on the 27th, included, Fire & Rescue, Medical Evacuations of personnel from BUC-3, the Alabama Air Patrol Hoist & Recovery extractions and more. Yulista as always, made a handsome donation to the NAVHPA. Oh yes, they also washed BUC-3 in preparation for our upcoming Veterans Day Events so we old guys didn’t have to.

NAVHPA continued to support the annual Wreaths for Veterans program, which we have been supporting since 2013. This program lays wreaths on veterans’ graves in Huntsville’s Valhalla and Maple Hill cemeteries. From 1-4 November, 27 NAVHPA members and spouses, working along with other community volunteers, helped clean, fluff greenery, attach new red bows, and re-box nearly 3500 wreaths. Everyone enjoyed the camaraderie during these work days as well as the great lunches provided by the Wreaths for Veterans Board and volunteers. On 16/17 November, these 3500 wreaths were placed on veterans’ graves in the two Huntsville cemeteries. NAVHPA members and spouses helped other volunteers unload, distribute and place wreaths. After the wreaths has been placed, the volunteer says the name of the veteran and thanks them for their service. It is heartwarming to see volunteers of all ages, from 15–18-year-old high school JROTC students to 75–80-year-old Vietnam veterans honoring these veterans in the same respectful and dignified manner.

On 5 November, 18 NAVHPA members and spouses attended the Cullman Military Heroes dinner honoring combat veterans living in the community. The event was held at Stone Bridge Farms in Cullman, Alabama. Part of the program recognized combat veterans and groups in attendance with a brief synopsis of their combat achievements. NAVHPA attendees collective combat achievements (valor awards and combat flying hours) were recited and greeted with loud cheering and applause from the 300 in attendance. Cullman does a great job of continually recognizing veterans and their achievements. The next day, Saturday, 6 November, NAVHPA displayed our UH-1C/M gunship at the Cullman Veterans Day Celebration in Sportsman Park. This annual event military displays, programs, an auto show and a free lunch for all veterans and their families. The event organizers always make a contribution to our operations fund. Attendees enjoy seeing a Vietnam helicopter, especially those who spent time in the back of a Huey.

Finally, the annual Veterans Day parade was held on November 11th through downtown Huntsville AL. We towed BUC-3 with a “crew” of us old Vietnam vets and a trailer for those of us (and there seem to be more each year) who didn’t feel up to a brisk two-mile walk. Ugly weather was on the horizon so the organizers moved the parade an hour early. This resulted in several members and spouses not being able to get thereafter a dump truck pulled a sign down on the Interstate about an hour before the parade started. As always, the community turned out to wish us well and honor the service of all veterans.

The North Alabama Chapter meets in Huntsville, on the 2nd Tuesday of most months at 6:00 PM (1800). Stop in when you get a chance. If you live in the North Alabama and Middle Tennessee areas, we want you to join our chapter. You can contact us at navhpa@gmail.com. Our web site is http://www.na-vhpa.org . Come on out!! We know all those war stories need to get out of your system. We need new ones.

NAVHPA President Marshall Eubanks (l), Don Bisson (center) and Secretary Sam Maki (r) prepare Shrimp Mercedes at Gulf State Park AL.

Yulista firefighters practice evacuating injured passengers from BUC-3

NAVHPA members and spouses attending the Veterans Banquet in Cullman AL.

Wreathe Fluffing is a community event that is heavily supported by the NAVHPA

Wreathe laying at Valhalla Cemetery November 16th 2021

Exhibiting BUC-3 in Cullman made a big impact on the community.

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