Thump, Thump, Thump: CBP's Huey Evokes Memories at AirVenture 2010
It's a thump in the air that can be heard from a mile away -- a sound that will stop a grown man in his tracks. For many, it was the sound of rescue and freedom while serving in Vietnam. It's not a song by the Beatles or Creedence Clearwater Revival, but the sound of the blades slapping the air off of a Bell Huey II helicopter.
Outside the Federal Pavilion at this year's 2010 EAA AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wisc., sits a 1973 U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine Bell Huey II. The aircraft, which is parked just a stone's throw away from the active runway, is a show stopper for many retired military men and women who remember either flying one or catching a ride in one during their military career.
As the spectators step up to the perfectly polished black and gold Huey, one can see emotions and stories begin to rush back into their minds. Meeting them at the aircraft is Vietnam veteran and current OAM Air Interdiction Agent Roger Henry.
Henry, who is assigned to the OAM Air Branch out of New Orleans, served one tour in Vietnam where he flew over 600 combat hours in the cockpit of the Huey.
"It always brings you home," said Henry. "I have been shot up numerous times in this aircraft, I have had bullets shoot up the blades, bullets in my seat and even shots completely through the cockpit, and no matter what happened while flying over Vietnam, it always got me home."
Henry, who currently has over 1500 hours of flight time in the Huey, says the sound of the Huey is the sound of the Vietnam War. Those thoughts have been repeated by hundreds of people so far at this years show.
The OAM UH-1H helicopters are short-range, turbine-powered helicopters, which fly with a crew of two -- pilot and copilot. The medium-lift capability of the UH-1H supports agents in high altitude and hot environments.
The UH-1H helicopter is used to perform tactical and utility missions along the border. The helicopter's secondary mission is to provide external lift capability in support of drug seizures and equipment delivery.
Over the next few days, the stories will continue to be told outside the Federal Pavilion, with veterans reminiscing about their days during the Vietnam War. And come Tuesday morning when the Huey is fired up and these OAM pilots head home to the Capitol region, the "thump, thump, thump" will once again stop a grown man in his tracks. As Henry would say, "It always gets you home."
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.