"In the Shadow of the Blade" is the title of an ambitious project and upcoming documentary film revolving around a restored, Vietnam veteran UH-1H helicopter that tours the country to bring the heritage of our experiences in Vietnam to the public in a unique way.
Although the Huey is the star of the film, the real story is about people - those of us who flew in Vietnam, those soldiers and civilians whose lives were affected in some way by the Vietnam War, and those family members who want to learn more about the history their loved ones experienced so many years ago. For some, seeing, hearing, and touching a Vietnam era Huey may even bring a sense of closure and peace of mind. This is a story about dignity, honor, and tribute to all those who served.
Arrowhead Films is producing the project which runs from October 2 to November 11, Veterans Day. Click on www.intheshadowoftheblade.com for all of the background and current information, as well as promotional endorsements.10/2/2002 CHARLOTTE COUNTY AIRPORT - PUNTA GORDA - FLORIDA
Local Vietnam helicopter veterans were welcomed home with a "hangar party" at the Charlotte County Airport on Wednesday, October 2. The event honored Vietnam veterans of all types who served in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. The event was organized in conjunction with a Texas film maker's project to gather first-hand stories about the veterans who flew Huey helicopters during the war.
About 200 veterans attended the event, which began at 7 p.m. at the Eastern Avionics hangar. Organizers hope to make the event an annual gathering. Arrowhead is producing a film titled "In the Shadow of the Blade" about the veterans who flew Huey helicopters in Vietnam. The project calls for a restored Huey decorated with authentic Vietnam service markings to be flown to various sites so veterans can visit the bird and tell their stories. Producers hope the documentary can be released sometime next year.
The restored Huey, which was shot down in Vietnam in 1967 dubbed the 091 "Shadow," began its tour Tuesday, October 1, at Fort Rucker, Ala., and was to visit a veterans memorial in Pensacola before setting down for this hangar party.
Arrowhead brought in LINDA*&*JEANIE for the event. Snacks and beverages were provided by local sponsors.
The no-show of the Huey -- Wednesday evening -- didn't keep about 200 old veterans from having a good time. Some were sitting at long tables in the hangar used by Eastern Avionics International Inc. sipping beers and talking. A giant American flag covered one wall. A tiny "Little Bird" helicopter, a Hughes OH-6A, was perched atop a trailer in a corner. An aging Marine color guard stood pensively waiting to present the colors. It was their first Vietnam Veterans Appreciation Party. The spur-of-the-moment event was sponsored by the Southwest Florida Vietnam Helicopters Association. They were coordinating the event to conform to Arrowhead Film & Video's fly-in of a Huey chopper that was expected to arrive at 8 p.m. Wednesday but never came.
The mood turned somber during a "missing man" ceremony. A table was set with empty chairs and empty plates representing those who did not return alive from Vietnam. On the table were lemons, symbolizing the bitterness of the experience, and salt to "remind us of the tears that our families have shed.
The Huey's telltale ''whomp, whomp, whomp'' rotor chop helped make the craft, officially the Bell UH-1 Iroquois, a lasting icon of the Vietnam War. Like the Jeep in World War II, the Huey hauled troops and supplies, served as a mobile gun platform and evacuated the wounded -- doing it all in the air instead of on the ground. The Huey's unique sound inspired the name for the documentary film being made about the chopper's sentimental journey around the country. Organizers say the purpose is to connect with everyone who was touched by the Vietnam War. It's all about saying a 'welcome home,' that you don't need to live in a closet and letting them know we did what we did because we stood up and did what the country asked us to do. The helicopter is just a piece of iron, but by doing this, we are reaching out to the veterans who haven't healed from their experiences.
Before the evening was over Wednesday at the airport, there would be song and camaraderie among the vets. Some wore dark blue 1st Cavalry hats with their distinctive shield of a gold patch with its black bar and horse's head. Others had hats reading "Vietnam Brotherhood" with the yellow Vietnam War campaign ribbon below.
The helicopter and the rest of the film crew made an appearance on Thursday, October 3, however, to pick up LINDA*&*JEANIE. Running behind schedule, the Huey spent the night in Lakeland. The women boarded the Huey and headed across the state of Florida for one more opportunity to entertain their Vietnam Vets.
10/3/2002 ST. LUCIE COUNTY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT - FORT PIERCE - FLORIDA
The Girls climbing out of a Huey in a miniskirt and go-go boots wasn't easy, but singing for the troops always was. For Linda and Jeanne Carpenter, AKA "The Hilltop Singers," it still is. They did three tours in country singing songs they wrote about Vietnam, and they're not finished yet. Thirty years later, they're flying in on a Huey for one more show.
Memories of rescuing troops and bringing supplies into the most dangerous areas of Vietnam came back to life for vets and onlookers who watched a UH-1 helicopter roar into the St. Lucie County International Airport at the Pan Am International Flight Academy.
The copter, known popularly as "the Huey," was once used by all military forces for assault, evacuation and delivering life-saving supplies. Its majestic landing was only overshadowed by the dozens of Vietnam vets who once flew the Huey, and showed up to see it one more time and share stories.
When the Huey flew into the airport everyone looked up at the sky. Linda wearing a bright red dress and Jeanie in bright blue were quite a contrast to the camaflouge colors of the Huey and the crew. That helicopter touched everyone's life over there. As they circled the airport, accompanied by a C.F.C. Aviation copter advertising the documentary, someone yelled, "Incoming!" The crowd waited patiently as the Huey touched ground.
When the massive blades stopped whirling, people began marching toward the copter, taking turns sitting in the pilot's seat and taking pictures of LINDA*&*JEANIE as they walked towards the crowd. Most of the vets in the crowd of more than 300 people sported motorcycle club vests, bearing nicknames such as "Tank," "Whopper" and "Bronco."
A reception was held following the landing and included LINDA*&*JEANIE, who arrived on the copter and had entertained troops in Vietnam on USO tours in 1971 and 1972. They were singing the oldies once again to an audience that loved them.