174th Assault
Helicopter Company


A 174th AHC "Get Together"

"The Gaggle"

Ft. Rucker, AL. October 7-9th, 2004

The 174th AHC Association's Annual Reunion (October) 2004 was canceled due to Hurricane Ivan's damage to our hotel. This did not stop the “stubborn” from getting together in October 7-9th, 2004. Through email and telephone conversations, we were able to gather ten 174th AHC Veterans and one Fan Club/FNG to travel to Daleville, AL for a get together and tour the Ft. Rucker Museum/Memorial. As Mel Lutgring (174th AHC Association V.P.) coined it, it was a “Gaggle” (not quite a school or flock), for it was not to imply that this was an official organized 174 AHC Association Reunion.

Five or six of us arrived Thursday afternoon and checked into the designated motel, the Greenhouse Inn (located in Daleville, AL on the main road which would take us a few miles to Ft. Rucker’s main gate).

Breakfasts and lunches were at Larry’s BBQ Restaurant across the street. Late Thursday afternoon, Bernie Cobb invited us down to the local VFW. We received wonderful treatment as invited guests a/o temporary members. After just a few beers (smile), we had dinner at a local favorite Family Steak House and then back to the hotel for camaraderie and to reunite and discuss old times.

Above L-R: Chas Simmons (blue hat), Bruce Marshall (standing) and wife Mary (seated), Dale Parker, Red Jones, Dennis Fisher, Mark Klindt, and Wally Nunn.

The rest of the “Gaggle” were to arrive Friday AM. The 174th AHC group now totaled seventeen: Sam Davis, Dennis Fisher and wife Betty, Red Jones, Mark Klindt, Mel Lutgring, Bruce Marshall and wife Mary and daughter Rachel, Larry McLeod and wife Janith, Wally Nunn, Dale Parker, Chas Simmons and of course, the Host Bernie Cobb (The 174th’s first Shark 6) and wife Janet (they reside in nearby Enterprise).

Above L-R: Mark Klindt, Dale Parker and Chas Simmons ("Now" and "Then")

Above L-R: Larry McLeod, Red Jones and Sam Davis "Now"

                    Above L-R: Red Jones and Sam Davis "Then"

Above: Betty and Dennis Fisher. Below is a "Then" photo of Dennis at Quang Tri 1971.

Above: Bruce and Mary Marshall. Below: Bruce Marshall "Then"

Above L-R: Wally Nunn (174th AHC Association President) and Mel Lutgring (174th AHC Association V.P.)

Above L-R: Wally Nunn and Mel Lutgring "Then"

Above: Bernie (174th Avn. Co's first Shark 6) and Janet Cobb. Below: Bernie Cobb "Then"

That evening (Friday) we were all invited to a delicious/inexpensive spaghetti and salad bar dinner at the VFW. We concluded with an all night get together at the hotel, and tail gaiting outside. Below are two photos of Mel Lutgring (left) and Dale Parker (right) at the VFW on our first nite.

Saturday was one of the reasons we all came, for a tour of Ft. Rucker- Home of US Army Aviation Training. Some of our group were stationed for training here in the '60s, prior to their deployment to the RVN. Bernie Cobb arranged clearance for us to tour much of the Army Base by automobiles. Due to security reasons they instructed us not take photos of the field or aircraft (understandably so). We then continued to the Ft. Rucker US Army Aviation Museum, which is on the base, but open to the public.

Above front row L-R: Larry McLeod, Red Jones, Mel Lutgring and Wally Nunn. Back Row L-R: Bernie Cobb, Sam Davis, Mark Klindt, Dale Parker and Warren Hewetson

We received a very special tour from CW4 (Ret) William Ruf (left)- Decorated Army Aviation Veteran, Historian and our personal Host (not to mention one of the pilots for the Presidential Helicopter during Eisenhower’s Term).

*Assistant Webmaster,s (rather lengthy) note: We took several photos at the museum, there is only space for a few here. I encourage anyone to visit if they can. It’s truly one of the finest/if not the finest exhibit on earth for US Army Aviation History (fixed wing & rotary). Very few of the many museums, I have toured, exhibit the original aircraft which actually participated in the Historic battle actions mentioned. Ft. Rucker displays many original aircraft! As seen below right, just one example is the actual OH-6A #68-17340 Cayuse flown by CPT Hugh Mills (Dark Horse/Cav Troop 1st Infantry 1969). The pilot and aircraft are well documented in book and film.

And a very important/if not the most important exhibit (left) needs to be mentioned here -- the Vietnam Memorial Room. This memorial room contains the name, rank, and date of fatality of all known Army Aviation personnel who suffered combat related aviation fatalities, in airplanes and helicopters, during the Vietnam conflict from 1962-1975. The 4,347 names represent pilots, co-pilots, crew chiefs, crew members, door gunners and medics, to include 1,889 who were never recovered.

A statue of an Army Aviator with helmet in hands stands as a monument to those who died in service to their nation. The body of the statue was sculpted and the hands, arms, and head are the cast of a real person. The helmet, flight suit, flak jacket and combat boots were worn in Vietnam. The conventions are the same down to the dogtag tied on the lace of the boot in addition to the dogtags worn around his neck and the memorial exhibit is marked with a map of Vietnam superimposed with a silhouette of a UH-1 Huey.*

Above: One of the old barracks near the main gate. It is preserved exactly as circa 1950s

After our Ft. Rucker Tour, we grabbed lunch at the BBQ House. Some us of then went to the "well-known" Aviation Parts, Supply, Gift and Souvenir shop- WINGS, and then joined the rest of our group at Cobb’s favorite "watering hole” for drinks- Cabaret's. We all then met for dinner at, another local favorite, Lee’s Steak House.

After the steak dinner, our Host & Hostess Bernie and Janet Cobb bid us farewell as we returned for (guess what) another all-nighter in/outside LZ Hewetson. Sunday, sadly, we all had to say goodbye and depart back home with one thought in mind. Next year’s 174th AHC Annual Reunion, Oct. 7-9th, 2005 in Ft. Walton Beach, FL…WILL BE THE BEST EVER.

A couple of things we also need to mention here: Attendees traveled from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. However, Mark Klindt (C/E Shark 57 1971 Chu Lai) traveled all the way from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada! He brought some small gifts for most everybody and some samples of Vancouver cuisine. He was certainly instrumental as one of the cheerleaders to make this event happen. The photo on the right is of non-veteran Warren Hewetson and Mark.

Also, we’d like to thank Mel Lutgring (“Witch Doctor” C/E 1971 Chu Lai) for much of the planning and coordination. He provided all attendees with a blue cap sporting the 174th AHC Unit logo embroidered on the front and “Gaggle” embroidered on the back! This expensive contribution came from his own pocket and heart. And not to forget Bernie Cobb (The first 174th Avn. Co.’s Gunship Platoon Leader- "Shark 6" 1966 Qui Nhon), who helped with much of the planning and scheduling and was our “Host Locale”.

All photos courtesy of Mark klindt, Mel Lutgring and Chas Simmons

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