Louisiana Gannett News
October 14, 2002
FORT POLK - As if the Huey helicopter wasn't enough
to bring back memories of the Vietnam War, veteran Guy Smith brought a
Fort Polk Army yearbook from 1970 to show the faces of many who served
in the war.
"Now, we are able to talk about what happened 30 years ago," said Smith,
an Anacoco resident.
Saturday, Smith was among Vietnam War veterans coming to take a look at
a UH-1H Huey helicopter flown in Friday to Honor Field at Fort Polk.
The Huey is a medical evacuation aircraft built for and used in the
Vietnam War. There were about 10,000 Hueys built. Half were shot down
during the war.
The Huey is being flown around the country to bring veterans out to
recall the good and bad times of the war. Arrowhead Films of Austin,
Texas, was on site Saturday to document the memories of those who served
in the war.
The crew has been filming veterans' stories since Oct. 2. Filming ends
"The Huey was the soldiers' livelihood," said film director Patrick
As veterans approached Honor Field, many had expressions on their face
like they saw an old friend.
"When the helicopter comes in, it's like opening a door," said veteran
McDonald, an Elk Grove, Calif., resident, has been traveling with the
"I'm going to see this until the end," he said. "It's just good to see
Veteran Larry Castagneto, a coordinator of the event, said brotherhood
is what it is all about.
"The Huey is very much a part of these men's life," he said. "The Huey
sustained these men whether it was though medical care or other needs.
It was the only transportation we had. There were no roads. It was a
jungle out there."
In the jungles of Vietnam, a soldier knew when a Huey was approaching.
"It had a distinctive sound," said Fries. "When a soldier heard the Huey
coming, they knew they were going to get out, supplies were on the way,
or they would be receiving mail. The Huey was everything."
Huey Castagneto said, "I remember we would tear up three or four Hueys
just to get a soldier out. We took a vow not to leave anyone behind,
even if they were dead. I saw some soldiers die. But we would never
leave a brother behind."
Fort Polk Staff Sgt. Kevin Burgess said he understands the brotherhood
the veterans feel.
"You have to realize that most of these guys were right out of high
school when they went to war," he said.
"It's like your first car," Burgess said about the Huey. "Bringing back
the Huey brings back a lot of memories."
Fries said it was in the shadow of the blade where those memories were
born. In the Shadow of the Blade is the name of the documentary.
"You must know that every soldier stood under the shadow of the blade to
get medical care, food, water, mail - anything they needed came from the
Huey," Burgess said.
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