Today we conclude our Agent Orange Awareness Month. This month has been a journey. We have met new veterans and learned about new events that happened during the war. The goal of this month was to bring further awareness of the sacrifices of those who served in the Vietnam War.
To conclude this month, I decided to show two loaned artifacts in our collection.
These artifacts are the UH-1 Huey door and seat in which Max “Red” Hall was shot during a mission in Vietnam.
Max Hall was a part of 99% of Army Aviators that were sent to serve in this war. Army aviators and crews were heavily exposed to groundfire during the war.
They were performing missions at maximum speed and capacity to provide for the utmost performance of their companies in combat.
Here are a few statistics about U.S. Army helicopter pilots and crews in Vietnam.
• 3.4 million service members went to Southeast Asia and 2.7 million deployed to Vietnam.
• Of these, 40,000 helicopter pilots served in Vietnam.
•2,202 helicopter pilots were killed in Vietnam
•2704 helicopter crew members were killed during the war.
•The average lifespan of a Huey helicopter pilot was four and a half weeks.
•Estimated nine million hours of flight hours flown.
Helicopter crews were sometimes the first line of defense for ground troops, and most of the time, their last hope of rescue.
These crews had no choice whether to serve or not. They were told by their government to go and defend the liberty of another country. With no guarantee of survival. No promise of return. No chance that they would even be able to keep their health if they returned. But they still went.
Thankfully, as the highlighted chair and door remind us, despite these odds, Max Hall survived. His story and life are legacies of the Vietnam War and those that did not come home.
His exhibit reminds us that the price of freedom is high, and there were those who were willing to pay that price. Even in the jungles of Vietnam.
Here at AAMM, we hope that this month of Agent Orange Awareness will serve as a starting point to recognize the Vietnam veterans around you and show appreciation for their service.