HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, GA (SGT William Begley) – Several former members of Companies A and D, 227th Attack Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division who served in Vietnam held a reunion on Hunter Army Airfield Nov. 3. The group was hosted by the Night Stalkers of 3rd Bn., 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) which has Soldiers based on HAAF.
According to Maj. Tyler Partridge, executive officer, 3rd Bn., 160th SOAR (A), the group was given a tour of two of the aircraft used in 160th SOAR operations, the MH-47G Chinook helicopter, and the MH-60M Black Hawk helicopter, aircraft which are designed specifically for the Night Stalker mission.
“Our regiment is a little bit different than your average aviation unit,” Partridge said. “So we showed them some of the different things we bring to the fight.”
The group of about 130 people also enjoyed a demonstration of the M134DT Mini Gun which fired blanks, but still impressed with its unmistakable loud noise and extremely high rate of fire. Also, there were displays of current medical equipment and protective gear the Night Stalker pilots wear. However, the day was not just about seeing the new aircraft and equipment.
For the Vietnam veterans it was a day to reunite and enjoy fellowship with those who share a common bond – a bond that Partridge said is so very visible, even to this day.
“What strikes me the most is the camaraderie they feel for one another,” Partridge continued. “For a lot of these guys it’s been over 40 years since they deployed together to Vietnam, yet they still feel this strong bond.”
One unique bond was between a father and son.
Bobby Buchanan served as a door gunner with Co. D, 227th AHB in Lai Khe Vietnam from 1968 through 1969. He had always wanted someone who he could share his experiences in Vietnam with. Before his son joined the service, Buchanan said he didn’t have anyone he could talk to.
“Nobody close to me or even around me knew what it was like,” Buchanan said. “You really don’t know what it’s like until you’re there.”
His son, Staff Sgt. Bobby Buchanan II currently serves with Co. B, 3rd Bn., 160th SOAR (A) and was asked by his father to help orchestrate the reunion at HAAF. He has been deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom several times. That experience has gone a long way to helping him relate to what his father went through.
“I have always looked up to my dad,” said Buchanan II. “I have heard it said that we stand on the shoulders of giants. Those guys back at that time set the stage for what we [aviators] are doing now.”
The two now share a bond that is truly strengthened by their experiences – a bond they will share as Soldier and former Soldier for a lifetime.