Acting VA Deputy Secretary Pam Powers thanked Vietnam Veterans “to whom we all owe the greatest debt of gratitude” at the Martin County Veterans Memorial Bell Helicopter dedication ceremony Aug. 1 in Fairmont, Minnesota.

The ceremony, hosted by Martin County and the memorial committee, dedicated AH-1-66-F-15327, or Cobra 327, which served in Vietnam and Laos from 1968-1971.

Powers spoke of the helicopter’s missions in Southeast Asia, flying armed escort, reconnaissance and battle support. She also talked about the sounds that resonate with Vietnam Veterans, from miniguns to whirring of blades.

“I have little doubt the Vietnam Veterans among us and those who see it here in years to come still hear and feel it,” she said. “Thousands of men and women fighting in Vietnam and in other conflicts since have seen that Cobra silhouette overhead. In that, they found some measure of comfort, of relief, perhaps some measure of inspiration and salvation.”

Army records show Cobra 327 received enemy fire at least 12 times. The acting deputy secretary also told the story of Army 1st Lt. David Stinson and Warrant Officer Stephen Wilton. They landed Cobra 327 safely the last time in Laos, in spite of massive damage from enemy fire.

“They put their lives on the line for all of us”

She said the pair, along with many others who flew in Southeast Asia, deserve the nation’s gratitude.

“They put their lives on the line for all of us, and for generations to come,” she said.

Powers said the thanks also go to the crews who kept the helicopters in the air.

“We honor and celebrate the courage, determination, ingenuity, and plain grit of the tireless crews who kept them flying in and out of combat,” she said. “They are the crew chiefs, the engine mechanics, sheet metal mechanics, avionics repairmen, armament techs, test pilots, and others.

Powers said these Veterans “worked tirelessly to patch them back up, make them airworthy again so they could get back to the fight,” protecting Veterans who served on the ground

“By honoring all of them, we honor every Veteran who came before and after, and those servicemembers fighting and standing watch today around the globe.”

Getting Cobra 327 on display

Following military service, Cobra 327 went to the Kern County Fire Department in California to fight night fires. The helicopter can see through the smoke with its military infrared scanners and locate people. Once the fire department retired Cobra 327, five different states tried to acquire it.

Martin County’s Veteran Memorial Committee started restoring Cobra 327 in 2019, returning it to the likeness of 1971. The helicopter is one of several monuments that compose the larger Veterans Memorial.

Powers also visited multiple VA medical centers on the trip, recognizing front line workers for COVID-19 work.

By Air Force Veteran Adam Stump is a member of VA's Digital Media Engagement team.

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Published on Aug. 4, 2020

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  1. SW August 13, 2020 at 2:13 pm

    THERE ARE OTHER VETERANS OUT THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so tired of vietnam vets being handed everything on a fu–0ing silver platter!!!!!

  2. mark mathews August 13, 2020 at 11:23 am

    yes my brother has parkinson like syndrome for 50 says it costs to much to cover their agent orange problem.DENY,DENY TILL THE DAY YOU DIE.

  3. Michael Duvall August 13, 2020 at 11:21 am

    I was saddened to read your letter. I really don’t have an answer for you my brother. I can give you a few pointers that might help. I don’t know where you live so the info I give you is from my experiences in Manitowoc County, state of Wisconsin. About 7 years ago I developed aggressive prostate cancer. The two people that I call ‘Gatekeepers’ were my primary care physician and my County VA representative. Both proved to be pitbulls and aggressively worked to get me cured and to get me disability. My primary care physician started to order biopsies. Once it was confirmed, ‘aggressive cancer’, I next visited my my County VA rep, the other Pitbull, and she immediately started digging up records and put in my application for disability which I have been receiving since day one. What might have helped me was that my DD-214 showed that I was an infantry Soldier (11B) with numerous combat Awards proving I was ‘boots on the ground’. But the VA can be very sneaky. At one point a civilian doctor who was contracted by the VA pretty much put in my record that my cancer was cured because of a low PSA rating. Well as everyone knows there is no such thing as being cured forever when it comes to cancer. Show my disability was cut drastically and about a year later my cancer came back pretty much with a vengeance. My disability was then reinstated to its original rating. One other thing that might help is that I am a Premier member of ‘My HealtheVet’. On that website I am able to look up almost all the notes that the doctors and nurses put in my record. This way you can sort of check to see if there’s any shenanigans going on. One more thing before I sign off, have you tried contacting your state representative and your state senator? I hope this helps even if it helps very little. Welcome home my brother. Keep fighting the fight, that’s what we were trained to do. And sometimes it is in God’s hands only. Mike

  4. Victor Sellers August 5, 2020 at 5:43 pm

    49 years and 3 months ago I was hospitalized for a month due to ingesting Agent Orange and contracting malaria, yet my medical records were all totally withheld denying me a medical retirement and my dependents any benefit at all. A month in military hospitals, with repeated hospital admissions during and after military service, yet the VA still hides the truth 50 years later. The skin developes cancers constantly, and decades of constant illnesses that were diagnosed in service, in Vietnam May 1971, and after, yet the military medical evidence is still withheld. After 50 years of FOIA REQUESTS, another FOIA REQUEST just had another 9 months added to it’s completion date. I put it in on May 6, 2020 and time was added making it APRIL 7, 2021. Tell me again I am not being waited out? That my records were lost in 1971. That the VA “did” assist me in 1983 with records requests. That the VA has never deceived me, or repeatedly lied to me.

    • mark matthews August 13, 2020 at 1:45 pm

      why did you remove my comment”DENY,DENY TILL THEY DIE”va new motto

      [Editor: We published that unaltered comment at 11:23 am ET. It’s still there.]

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