189th Attack Helicopter Company pilots reunite at HAAF

189th Attack Helicopter Company pilots reunite at HAAF

15-Mar-2016 Source: US Army

Several UH-1 Huey helicopter pilots formerly from the 189th Attack Helicopter Company who served together in Vietnam held a reunion tour at Hunter Army Airfield March 11.

The “Avengers” of Guns platoon 189th AHC served together in the late sixties during the early years of the Vietnam War.

Steve Webster was a UH-1 Huey helicopter gunship pilot back then. He was also an instructor here (HAAF) in 1969-70. He said the visit brought back a lot of old memories.

“I recognize the hangars because they were our landmarks when it was foggy. You could always see the light on the top of the buildings,” Webster said.
Webster said the pilots used to have a dark sense of humor, but it was one of the things that got them through their time in Vietnam.

“We had to depend on each other,” Webster said. “We had a little saying in the group. If you do down today can I have your stereo? It was just a little incentive to come back alive.”

The group toured the flight line and got to see and sit in the AH-64 Apache Helicopter and the UH-60L Black Hawk Helicopter. They ate at the dining facility and concluded their tour at the flight simulators on HAAF.
William Fraker, a retired Army colonel, was the commander of the 189th AHC back then. Fraker said the pilots get together every year and tour a different base, renewing their ties with the military. 

“It is a big thrill to us because we have been out of helicopters for several years,” Fraker said. “In my case 1978 was the last time I flew a helicopter.” 
Fraker went on to say it was great to see the training 
aids that he and his fellow pilots did not have.

“They would have been a marvelous advantage,” Fraker said. 

Chief Warrant Officer 2 John Hatten is an AH-64 Apache Helicopter pilot and the flight operations officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade. He said it was his pleasure to escort the group on their reunion tour.

“I absolutely love being here with this group. These gentlemen are the ones that we looked up to when we were younger. They were the ones we read stories about and reason most of us became pilots. Being able to give back to them is a pleasure for us,” Hatten said.
Nothing could replace the experience the group of veterans brought to the airfield that day. An experience that was not lost on Hatten.

“They talk so light-hearted about it (Vietnam),” Hatten said. “It is pretty awesome, these men are greater than they know.”

For the veterans, a chance to get behind the stick in the cockpit one more time put a huge smile on their faces. 

“It was an experience I had been looking forward to for a long, long time,” said Pat Leary.

Leary also flew with the 189th AHC. 

“We all agree if we had to pick one day for a groundhog day, today would be it. For me personally I got to fly [in the simulator] with Bill Fraker, my commander in Vietnam, again after 49 years.”


Retired Col. William Fraker, former commander of the 189th Attack Helicopter Company, takes the controls in the AH-64 Apache Helicopter simulator on Hunter Army Airfield March 11. The experience was part of the unit’s annual reunion where Fraker was able to reconnect with the pilots he flew with 49 years ago. (Photo by Spc. Scott Lindblom 3rd CAB Public Affairs)

Retired Col. William Fraker, former commander of the 189th Attack Helicopter Company, takes the controls in the AH-64 Apache Helicopter simulator on Hunter Army Airfield March 11. The experience was part of the unit’s annual reunion where Fraker was able to reconnect with the pilots he flew with 49 years ago. (Photo by Spc. Scott Lindblom 3rd CAB Public Affairs)

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