Randy Hinds, a Vietnam veteran who now serves as chief
information officer and professor of information systems
at Kennesaw State University, was the master of
ceremonies Oct. 7 when a restored Huey helicopter
visited campus as part of a documentary film project, In
the Shadow of the Blade.
helicopter lands at KSU as part of national tour
Nearly three decades have passed since the end of the
Vietnam War, but the familiar outline of the UH-1, or Huey
helicopter, has yet to fade from the American consciousness. To
the contrary, the Huey has become an enduring symbol of that
particular era in American history – both for soldiers who
took part in the conflict, as well as people back home who
glimpsed the aircraft only on television and in films.
were everywhere," recalled Dr. Randy Hinds, a pilot in
Vietnam who spent the majority of his time flying two types of
helicopters, the Huey and the OH-6, as a member of the U.S.
Army’s famed 1st Cavalry Division immortalized in the Mel
Gibson film, We Were Soldiers. "There was never a time,
that I can remember, that you didn’t hear a Huey flying
even a driving rainstorm could prevent Vietnam veterans,
members of the KSU community and other invited guests
from attending the Oct. 7 landing of a restored Huey
helicopter on the Campus Green.
On Oct. 7,
members of the college community, area veterans and invited
guests had the opportunity to see first-hand the machine Hinds
remembers so well. A fully-restored Vietnam-era Huey landed at
Kennesaw State University and spent several hours on the Campus
Green as part of a series of flights across the country
commemorating and celebrating the heroes of that bloody
conflict, which ultimately resulted in thousands upon thousands
of American casualties and deaths.
flights, which began with an Oct. 2 liftoff from Fort Rucker,
Ala., are being staged as part of a documentary film project, In
the Shadow of the Blade. Along the way, Arrowhead Film and Video
is collecting stories from veterans for use in the documentary.
the chief information officer and a professor of information
systems at Kennesaw State, spent three decades in the Army
before retiring with the rank of colonel. He did one tour of
duty in Vietnam, and was getting ready to go back when the U.S.
government began calling the troops home. During his time
"in country," Hinds performed a variety of missions in
the Huey, including command and control exercises, ferrying
troops to and from the scene of battle, laying down cover fire
for troops on the ground and, perhaps most importantly, getting
wounded soldiers off the battlefield as quickly as possible.
was an incredibly rugged aircraft," Hinds said, adding that
the controls were very simplistic, by today’s standards.
"It could take a lot of punishment, in terms of enemy fire,
and just the way we as pilots punished it trying to avoid enemy
always seemed to bring you back," he added. "I guess
that’s what I recall as the pilot of the aircraft."
soldiers, the Huey was both the way they arrived at their units
and the way they left once their tour of duty was completed. In
the case of those wounded in battle, the Huey’s ability to get
in and out of tough situations often meant the difference
between life and death.
we did not have the Huey in Vietnam, our casualty rate would
have been much, much higher," Hinds said. "There’s
no doubt about that."
34 years later, Hinds vividly recalls his first combat mission,
an emergency ammunition run conducted in the dead of night, with
nothing more than a flashlight capped with a red lense serving
as the drop point. Hinds, who was monitoring the Huey’s
instruments for his command pilot, said the weight of the load
nearly pulled the vehicle’s rotor into the surrounding jungle
before the drop could be completed, putting the aircraft and the
crew in extreme jeopardy. The vehicle remained aloft, however,
and afterward, Hinds had two thoughts: write a letter of thanks
to Bell Helicopter (the builder of the Huey) and make this entry
in his diary, "Boy, this is going to be a long year."