INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Chopper pilots who flew during the Vietnam War held a reunion downtown Wednesday night.
The annual event, sponsored by the nonprofit Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, gives those pilots a chance to renew old friendships, remember those who died in the war, and celebrate the survival of those who operated rotary wing aircraft during the conflict.
“We have a unique and special bond because we have been in combat,” John Shafer of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association said. “Each of us flew different missions but we know, and we left brothers over there in Vietnam and we come together to remember them and remember each other and that special bond keeps drawing us back.”
More than 40,000 chopper pilots from all branches of service flew in Vietnam, a war often called “The Helicopter War.” More than 2,200 paid the ultimate price, dying in service to the nation.
“We sent two-and-a-half million people to fight a war in a country a lot of us didn’t want to go to,” Mike Sheuerman of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association said. “We were asked to do it, we did it. You know, because we believed in our country.”
This was the association’s 34th reunion.
Of the almost 12,000 helicopters in southeast Asia at the time, some 5,000 were destroyed during combat missions.