Glen Hyde organized a day to pay tribute to Viet Nam Veterans at Northwest Regional Airport in Roanoke, TX (52F). Glen hosted Vets on Tuesday, 12 March, 2013, during a stop of the American Huey 369 on its country tour. Hospitality is what Texas is known for so Glen engaged Tommy Meyer to share his skills at large-scale cooking and provide Fried Catfish with all the fixin's and trimmin'
Glen, who owns the airport property, is a retired US Marine Corps Captain who flew F-4 Phantom jets. Like every American vet, Glen is enamoured with the sound of a Huey helicopter. The sound of its blades thumping as it approaches speaks volumes to those in distress, "Help is here!"
Glen has owned and restored as many as 10 Huey helicopters in his day. While I spent some treasured time chatting with Glen about the event, a far better write-up is available for reading below.
Let me just say that Glen has a dream. His dream is a park at the airport to pay honor and tribute to all the US military services, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. Glen's dream is a little more than that, it has a genesis. The name he has chosen is "Freedom Is Not Free" and has that name reserved. His vision is to achieve financial support to build this park through the sale of memorial bricks.
For further information, contact Glen at 817-430-1905 or fax 817-491-2538.
Pays Tribute to
Viet Nam Vets
Many local residents interested in American war wanting to help honor those who fought in Vietnam, made a visit to Northwest Regional Airport in Roanoke just southwest of Lantana Tuesday.
That’s when a restored American Huey helicopter visited as part of a 20-day, 3,500-mile journey from its home in Peru, Ind. Called American Huey 369 for the number on its tail, it is the focal point in a movement to create the National American Huey History Museum.
The helicopter was on public display before a private veterans-only ceremony was held that evening. Veterans enjoyed free meals (a fish fry) while the public made donations.
“It’s a good, healthy thing for Vietnam vets who never got a homecoming,” said Northwest Regional Airport owner Glen Hyde, who flew F-4’s as a Marine Corps pilot, and has owned and restored 10 Huey helicopters. “These guys went through a lot of stress. Vets talk to other vets about it but not as much to civilians. It gave us a chance talk.”
Among the group of veterans was Lantana resident and retired Air Force Col. Jim Ryan who earned 29 medals during three tours of duty in Vietnam in the 1960s and 70s including two Distinguished Flying Crosses and a Legion of Merit. Col. Ryan who hadn’t piloted a Huey in 48.5 years took the controls of the helicopter and made multiple passes around the area. “It brought back a lot of old memories,” said Col. Ryan in an interview with Lantana Living. Sitting on the skid step of the historic helicopter used in Vietnam as part of the 498th Med Evac, Col. Ryan reflected back.
“I once remember sitting as I am now on the skid step of a chopper similar to this one and I felt dirt and gravel flicking in my face. I soon realized bullets were hitting the ground in front of me, very close in front of me, dirt ricocheting into me. I realized suddenly I was being shot at by a sniper,” said Col. Ryan. “I grabbed a grenade launcher out of the Huey and began to defend myself. The nearby banana grove provided heavy cover for snipers. After loading the weapon, I took control of the situation.”
The Colonel and the chopper melded like old friends separated for years with little time to catch up before going their separate ways. Before everyone said their goodbyes, Hyde honored Ryan in a private setting. The retired Colonel was presented with a beautiful wooden statue of a Huey displaying words of sentiment and appreciation.
American Huey 369, originally left Indiana in route to Branson, Mo., Amarillo, Texas; and Flagstaff, Ariz., before taking part in the Helicopter Association International’s Heli-Expo Convention in Las Vegas. From there it visited Window Walk, Ariz., and Mineral Wells, Texas last weekend. Next was Bell Helicopter’s Hurst headquarters Monday, then Roanoke on its way home.
Hyde said more than 15,000 American Hueys have been built at Bell’s plant in Grand Prairie. The 369 chopper, a VH1H model that can carry 14 people, was purchased by brothers John and Alan Walker in 2005 and restored to fly two years later. Since then they’ve taken it on more than 15 annual tours across the United States. In 2009, the Walkers restored a second Huey and currently are in the process of doing the same to a Huey gunship. They keep the aircraft in a temporary hanger museum at the former Grissom Air Force Base but hope to raise $4 million through their tours to build a permanent 30,000-square-foot museum facility for 20 Hueys.
Hyde came in contact with John Walker last summer when the two discussed a helicopter parts transaction. After becoming fast friends, Walker accepted Hyde’s invitation to bring the 369 to Roanoke, a visit Hyde hopes happens every year.
For more information on next year’s potential visit, contact Glen Hyde at 817-430-1905. More details on the American Huey 369 organization and museum effort can be found at AmericanHuey369.com.
Photo by LJ Glen Hyde poses outside his office at 52F with friend Alexander Vanover