Welcome Remarks for Helicopters in Vietnam
Good afternoon, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased you could join us, whether you’re here with us in the theater or watching on YouTube or C-SPAN.
Outside on Constitution Avenue, three historic Bell helicopters are parked near our entrance. Today we have a wonderful opportunity to learn about these helicopters, and the men who flew them, from members of the North Carolina Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association and moderator Dwayne Williams.
Our program is presented in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of L3 Technologies. Many thanks to them.
Before we hear from our special guests, I’d like to tell you about three upcoming programs.
This morning we opened our new exhibit, “Remembering Vietnam,” and tomorrow we continue our related programming. At 11 a.m., Frances O’Roark Dowell will help us see Vietnam through the eyes of a child as she discusses her book, Shooting the Moon. At two o’clock, we’ll show the film We Were Soldiers. And at 7 p.m., we will celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial with a panel discussion that will include the founder of Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Jan Scruggs.
To learn more about these and all of our public programs and exhibits, consult our monthly Calendar of Events online at Archives.gov. Check our website or sign up to get email updates. You’ll also find information about other National Archives programs and activities.
Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Pick up your application for membership in the lobby or become a member online at archivesfoundation.org.
As I mentioned earlier, today’s program is one in a series of events we are presenting in conjunction with our new exhibit, “Remembering Vietnam,” which just opened in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery upstairs.
The exhibit is a media-rich exploration of the Vietnam War, featuring interviews with American and Vietnamese veterans and civilians with first-hand experience of the war’s events as well as historic analysis. It is a fascinating collection of newly discovered and iconic original documents, images, film footage, and artifacts that illuminate 12 critical episodes in the war that divided the peoples of both the United States and Vietnam.
I encourage you all to walk through the exhibit—if not today, then another time in the coming year.
Now I ask all Vietnam veterans or any United States veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time during the period of November 1, 1955, to May 15, 1975, to stand and be recognized.
Veterans, as you exit the McGowan Theater after today’s program, National Archives staff and volunteers will present each of you with the Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin. On the back of the pin is embossed:
“A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You.”
The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration is a national initiative, and the lapel pin is the nation’s lasting memento of thanks.
The National Archives Building is always an impressive sight on Constitution Avenue, but this week we’re attracting a bit more attention. Thanks to the North Carolina Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association (who are the custodians of the aircraft), we can see and learn about three original Vietnam War–era helicopters: the Bell AH-1 Cobra, the Bell UH-1 Iroquois, and the Bell OH-58 Kiowa. This display is presented in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of Bell Helicopter.
And now, we’ll hear from General Richard A. Cody (retired) of the United States Army.
General Cody graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1972. He is a Master Army Aviator, rated in over 19 helicopters and has over 5,000 hours of flight time.
During his 36-plus years of service, General Cody served in six of the Army’s combat divisions.
During Operation Desert Storm, then-Lieutenant Colonel Cody led Task Force Normandy, a flight of eight Apache helicopters, into Iraq and destroyed two critical Iraqi radar sites prior to the start of the allied air campaign.
General Cody is currently the Senior Vice President and Officer for L3 Technologies, Inc., Washington Operations. He is the Chairman of the Board for Homes for Our Troops; Board Trustee of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund; Board Trustee of the George C. Marshall Foundation; on the Advisory Board for Hope for the Warriors; and the founder and lead pilot for Operation Flying Heroes, an organization that provides flights for Iraq and Afghanistan Wounded Warriors.
General Cody has received the United States Military Academy Distinguished Graduate Award and the George C. Marshall Goodpaster Award and is an inductee of the Army Aviation Hall of Fame.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome General Richard A. Cody.
It’s now my pleasure to turn the program over to our moderator, Dwayne Williams. Dwayne is a decorated Vietnam veteran and helicopter pilot. He graduated from flight school in October 1966 and was assigned to 175th Helicopter Company (Outlaws & Mavericks) in Vinh Long, Vietnam, where he served as gunship pilot. After his tour in Vietnam, he was reassigned to Fort Wolters, Texas, and served as an instructor pilot until his honorable discharge in October 1969. In the 1970s, he was a line pilot in the offshore oil industry, and then began a 31-year career as a chief pilot, instructor pilot, demonstration pilot, and experimental test pilot for Bell Helicopter, first in Iran and then in Fort Worth, Texas. Since retiring from Bell, Dwayne has kept flying helicopters, and currently resides in Arlington, Texas, with his wife of over 52 years.
Please welcome Dwayne Williams and members of the North Carolina Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association.