The most notable news this summer was the big reunion of the Vietnam-era 1-9th, sponsored by the Bullwhip Squadron Association (BWS). It was held in Ozark, Alabama and adjacent Ft. Rucker, home of U.S. Army Aviation. I almost made it, getting over halfway before an emergency back at work forced me turn around. The last time I saw “Mother” Rucker was March, ’70, as a newly minted Warrant Officer. Jerry, “Smoky” SCHMOTOLOCHA (C Trp. Blues RTO, ‘65-66), who usually films these reunions, couldn’t make it this year, so I got to have his room when he couldn’t make it. But I thought I would loose it when the reservation desk asked me to spell Smoky’s name. Lou “Rocket” ROCHAT (WO pilot, A, E Trps, ‘70-71) got the room, since he drove alone all the way from San Antonio – with only one usable leg. A super thanks to Bob TREDWAY (CO, C-1-9, ‘69-70) for making and sending me a videotape of many of the BWS events. Loel EWART (VP, BWS) and L. A. “D” DEFLERON (SGM, BWS) should be commended for organizing this event, and for forwarding me a registration packet and copy of the local newspaper write-up on the reunion. BG (Ret.) David J. ALLEN (Pres., BWS) hosted.
A highlight for all the aviator types was a visit to the U. S. Army Aviation Museum at Ft. Rucker. “Mother Rucker” houses a collection of helicopters and airplanes that trace the development and use of aviation by the Army in several areas: troop and cargo transportation; observation, scouting, and liaison duties; medical evacuations; and the use of armed helicopters as an offensive weapon of the combined arms team. There were a surprising number of connections to the 1-9th and the 1st Cav there. Among the large number of fully restored aircraft on display inside included my personal favorite, the OH-6A “Cayuse”, better known as the LOH (“Loach”), and for marking targets with “brown smoke”. A very special display is a diorama depicting the “stamp photo” – of the B Troop Huey hovering over a pinnacle, with the Blues disembarking. That photo is arguably the most famous of any taken representing American combat action in Vietnam. They also have a Vietnam Memorial, listing all 4,330 pilots, co-pilots, crewmen, doorgunners and medics killed during Vietnam, including 1,889 whose bodies were never recovered. The Army Aviation Hall of Fame includes plaques dedicated to Col. A. T. PUMPHREY and Gen. Robert M. SHOEMAKER. Mounted impressively on the outside wall of the museum, is a restored Cobra in a “nose-down” posture. I was surprised to learn that it had belonged to F Troop, 1-9th. A virtual visit can be had at http://www.armyavnmuseum.org/. In later issues, I’ll relate how “E” and “F” Troops came into being. One of the many highlights of the reunion was the “restored to flying condition” OH-13S, perfectly painted in OD, with all the correct stencils, sporting a yellow Alpha Troop “triangle” on the sides. It looked like it had just come from the factory. This bird is one of many aircraft restored to flying condition by the Atlanta-based Army Aviation Heritage Foundation [http://www.armyav.org/
Attending the reunion were several members of Bravo Troop from the era of the famous “Pinnacle Photo”. Since a C Trooper won one of the first raffle prizes, BG ALLEN commented: “C Troop, they always win everything – except a beauty contest.” No argument there. At least two of the raffled items came from the 1st Cav Asso. Gift Shop – a black Stetson, and a U.S. Cavalry sword. BG ALLEN reminded the audience that Col. John STOCKTON (Bullwhip 6) and CSM KENNEDY (Bullwhip 7) were responsible for bringing back the original mounted cavalry’s Stetson. CSM KENNEDY told the saga of the re-establishment of the black cavalry Stetson by Col. STOCKTON, who in January, 1965, sent KENNEDY cross country to find “5 original cavalry saddle bags and 5 original cavalry hats”. This event marked the beginning of the return of the black Stetson “Cav Hat” to the U.S. Cavalry. I have a videotape produced by the BBC that includes a long interview of Col. STOCKTON and CSM KENNEDY talking about the Bullwhip Squadron and how traditions such as the modern “Cav Hat’s were begun. I obtained the tape from Smoky, who has put together several other tapes about the 1-9th and the 1st Cav Div. I’ll give details to anyone asking, and will include more information in the next issue. The next BWS reunion will be at Ozark/Ft. Rucker again in two years.
Bob YOUNG (C Trp. Lift pilot, ‘65-66, firstname.lastname@example.org) reported “… I had a great time at my first 1-9 Cav, Bullwhip Squadron (BWS), reunion…. The Blues jumped onto the tables at dinner and sounded like old times. The Blues lead the way and were the primary focus at the memorial service on Sunday morning…. We are making a special effort to locate and include more from D Troop. We had a good mixture of prior officers, NCOS and enlisted. There were several reunions of flight crews with each other. Some pilots, gunners and crew chiefs have not seen each other since Vietnam. Several family members of our soldiers who died in Vietnam attended and accepted honorary membership into the Bullwhip Squadron.” Thanks Bob (he went over on the “boat”).
In other news, Bert CHOLE (CO E Trp, Sqdn. S3, ‘70-71) was elected into the OCS Hall of fame. Among former 1-9th guys, only Stan Gret has had that honor. Among all the neat stuff the BWS provided at the reunion, one was Bert’s new book “Historical Summary, 1st Squadron 9th Air Cavalry, First Cavalry Division: The Vietnam Years”. I’ll detail this and his previous tome in the next issue. In the last column, I forgot to mention that at the 1-9th hospitality suite, VHPA reunion, Grover WRIGHT (C Trp Cobra pilot, ‘69-70) and John Hazelwood (C Trp Lift pilot, ’67-68) each showed videos they put together from 8mm film taken during their respective tours. Was so great! Thank you both for your labors of love for the rest of us. Next year’s 1st Cav Div Asso. Reunion at Ft. Hood will mark the 40th anniversary of the First Team’s deployment to Vietnam in 1965. I just perused the only copy of the SABER that I received after DEROS. The headline was “FIRST TEAM COMING HOME”, with an article about TRICAP. On another page were photos of 3 Medal of Honor recipients. One was one of our own – Bob Poxon. My post of this to 1-9th guys got a response from Joe BOWEN (BWS webmaster), who was Poxon’s roommate in Vietnam. I also received a response from Poxon’s sister [PHOTO] [Caption]: “First Lieutenant Robert I. Poxon First Lieutenant Robert I. Poxon. Armor, Troop B 1st Squadron 9th Cavalry, distinguished himself on 2 June 1969 while serving as a platoon leader on a reconnaissance mission in Tay Ninh Province”
SICK CALL: A. J. WELCH (1-9th Historian) reported that Frank L. ALVERSON, Jr. [email@example.com] is recovering well from bypass surgery. “Again, many many thanks for all of your support. I couldn't have done it with out all of you. It is a great feeling to have so many good friends.
TAPS: Donald Chandler, age 50, died September 19, due to a service connected injury he received in December 1969, while serving as a scout with B Trp. Observer Sgt HOOTEN flew it back; SGT HANLON, gunner, was slightly banged up. Don is survived by his wife of 26 years Shirley, his mother Thelma and two daughters Yuki and Nikko Chandler. His warrior sacrifices spanned 26 years of seizures and pain which ultimately resulted in his loss of life. His supreme sacrifice will go unnoticed by the Nation, his name will not be on the wall. But for his remaining family and warrior peers, Saber 11's combat death will enter our hearts as: Saber 11 has been shot down ... let us scramble in prayer. Lbniles@aol.com; firstname.lastname@example.org. “Dutch” Covert (E Trp Scout gunner) died after a long battle with cancer. He is honored by a special tribute by one of his many friends (including me), Johnny Hubbs (CE, 229th) at http://www.geocities.com/skytrooper77/dutch.html.
One more VHPA reunion note: Mike SLONIKER (A, 229th Lift pilot and VHPA Historian) sent: “… Once again, the strong professionalism, attention to detail, and honesty of the members of the 1st of the 9th prevails…. I was unable to thank 1-9th for their assist to me during the 02 July 2000 VHPA wreath laying ceremony at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial…. However, it’s very important for me to be reminded of the high standards the members of the 1st of the 9th live by.