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.
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).
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.
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.
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.*
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”.