By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL
THE GOSHEN NEWS
GOSHEN — Dick Mayberry flew over Vietnam in a UH-1 Huey helicopter while he served in the U.S. Army in 1966 to 1968.
He flew over Goshen Municipal Airport in American Huey 369 Saturday afternoon during a special event as one of the local veterans honored at the second edition of Rotors & Ribs.
“I sat on the floor, I didn’t sit on a seat,” Mayberry said, as he strapped himself in before the helicopter took off. “It’s a nostalgic ride and probably the last time I’ll fly in one.”
The chopper hovered above the ground with the blades making a “whomp, whomp” sound alongside a second Huey helicopter, 803/Warrior 11, that carried six of the 12 veterans honored
An Army AH-1F Cobra attack helicopter hovered in the center to form a triangular formation.
“It’s pretty remote to have two Hueys and a Cobra flying together, and a Cobra is actually a Huey,” said Tom Klare, a member of the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation, Sky Soldiers Demonstration Team. “There are very few Hueys left. Neither of these had flown for years. When we got the 369 first, it came from Maine. The engine was corroded and we wondered if we could make it fly again. Both of them flew in Vietnam.”
And one of the co-pilots, Ronald R. Paye, makes appearances at events with the machine. He flew for 19 years as a flying chief warrant officer in the U.S. Army.
“I hadn’t flown in 20 years and when I got the opportunity to fly again, it was incredible. I don’t remember much from my last flight in the military,” Paye said. “I remember all my flights now because it might be the last one.”
Paye says the demonstration team brings the helicopters to events to share and educate the young people, but there is a more important reason — to bring them to the Vietnam veterans.
“When we see a Vietnam vet, it does something special to them. Vietnam was an unappreciated war and the vets were not treated well,” Paye said. “We didn’t start the war but we were the ones who took the blame. Now they are getting older and up in years. We tell these Vietnam men that they were good men and what they did was honorable and correct and good. When we bring one vet home in an event like this, it’s worth all the hours of restoring (the helicopters.)”
RJ Monroe served in the U.S. Army from 1967 to 1971 and Art Ebey served in the U.S. Airforce during the Berlin Crisis in 1962.
The two vets were smiling and shaking hands with the pilot and co-pilot and crew members after their membership flight as members of the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation.
“It was fun,” Monroe said.
And Ebey voiced similar thoughts.
“It was and I really appreciate this opportunity to do it,” Ebey said. “It’s not always you get to ride in a copter. I appreciate the opportunity from the Rotors & Ribs to do this.”