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Friday, January 18 , 2019, 4:52 pm | Fair 62º


Vietnam Veterans Are the Stars of the Show at Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day

With cook-offs, dancing and a Huey helicopter, VVA’s Chapter 218 hosts daylong party at Break Time Sports Lounge in Goleta

From left, retired Marine Maj. George Ogle, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Laren Ogle, Ivette Ogle and Army veteran Peter Bie, president of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 218. Click to view larger
From left, retired Marine Maj. George Ogle, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Laren Ogle, Ivette Ogle and Army veteran Peter Bie, president of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 218. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

The local Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 218 on March 28 hosted Santa Barbara County’s — and the nation’s — day of recognition and celebration for all who served in the U.S. armed forces during the Vietnam War era (1959-1975).

Hundreds of community members dropped by to meet local Vietnam veterans and to give them a hearty welcome home! Presented by the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 218 and War Torn Productions, it was the official celebration of the Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.

The free, family-friendly event ran from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. in the parking lot of Break Time Sports Lounge in Goleta. VVA Chapter 218 acknowledged Break Time Sports Lounge owner and special events manager Jerry Farmer for supporting the event.

All proceeds from the Welcome Home celebration went to benefit the VVA Chapter 218.

There was a special ceremony at 2 p.m. with a speech and dedication to honor the 58,267 men and women who did not come home, 98 of whom were from Santa Barbara County. VVA chapter president Peter Bie asked for a moment of silence to honor the dead, the missing in action and the men and women currently serving in the armed forces around the world.

On display were Chapter 218’s authentic Huey helicopter, which did service in country, as well as other military vehicles. T-shirts with a graphic of the Huey helicopter as well as Vietnam Veterans of American, Chapter 218 T-shirts were also on sale.

The Huey became the symbol of U.S. combat forces in Vietnam, where more than 12,000 helicopters served alongside our troops. The 7,000 Hueys that served flew 9.7 million hours. At home, millions of Americans watched them fly on nightly news reports.

“It is a labor of love for our chapter to try to preserve this Huey helicopter,” Army retiree Gerry Roberson told Noozhawk. “It  has quite a history of combat, and there are bullet holes on the underbelly of this aircraft that show that!

“Over 7,000 Hueys served alongside our troops in Vietnam — flying over 9 million hours. This Huey is now over 45 years old; we need to replace the glass that is now cracking and to get it repainted to preserve it before it deteriorates. We are proud to tow it in parades and have it on display for patriotic events all over our county.

Now we need the community’s help to raise the $25,000 needed for these repairs and replacements. We have raised $4,000, now we need $21,000.”

Live music from Teresa Russell kept the energy high later in the afternoon and evening. Prizes and trophies were also awarded at the chili and enchilada cook-offs, as well as for the best-dressed in the fashion and best dancing to the music of the 1960s and ’70s eras.

Founded in 1978, the Vietnam Veterans of America is the only national Vietnam veterans organization congressionally chartered and exclusively dedicated to Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA is organized as a nonprofit corporation and is tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(19) of the Internal Revenue Service Code.

Membership is open to veterans and associates (individuals who may or may not have served in the military).

VVA’s founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”​ VVA’s goals are to promote and support the full range of issues important to Vietnam veterans, to create a new identity for this generation of veterans, and to change public perception of Vietnam veterans. Currently there are more than 70,000 individual members, 48 state councils and 650 local chapters.

To join the chapter or contribute to Save the Huey Heliocopter, send a check to VVA Chapter 218 Santa Barbara, P.O. Box 4862, Santa Barbara 93120-2241, or contact VVA chapter president Peter Bie at 805.259.9779 or Jerry Farmer at 805.350.2006 or e-mail [email protected] or [email protected].

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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