Following Bipartisan Push, Vietnam Helicopter Crew Monument in Arlington Advances
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and U.S. Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV-2) today congratulated the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association (VHPA) on the new proposal from the Secretary of the Army to place a small monument in Arlington National Cemetery honoring the nearly 5,000 helicopter pilots and crewmembers killed during the Vietnam War. Earlier this year, Sullivan, Baldwin, and Amodei introduced the Vietnam Helicopter Crew Monument Act, bipartisan legislation to move this memorial forward.
“The outcome is a win-win for Vietnam Veterans, Gold Star Families, and Arlington National Cemetery,” said Bob Hesselbein, Legacy Committee Chairman of the VHPA. “When Arlington National Cemetery leadership came to understand the commitment of Congress to honoring our fallen brothers who operated helicopters in the Vietnam War, they found a way to place a suitable monument, save a beautiful tree, and preserve burial space for American heroes. We could not have achieved this win-win outcome without the help of these legislators. We are grateful for his commitment to honoring those who died operating helicopters in the Vietnam War.”
“I’m pleased to see that Arlington National Cemetery plans to appropriately honor the sacrifice of the many veterans who served as the backbone of air operations during the Vietnam War,” said Senator Sullivan. “The monument will be a long-standing reminder of their dedication and commitment to all future visitors. I was glad to introduce this bill with the support of my colleagues and am pleased to see this issue’s swift resolution.”
“I’m incredibly proud to have worked alongside Bob Hesselbein and across party lines to help make this memorial a reality,” said Senator Baldwin. “Throughout the Vietnam War, brave and courageous helicopter crew members made incredible sacrifices. Our veterans and their families have earned this recognition and they deserve to be properly honored at Arlington National Cemetery.”
“With more than 40 years having passed since the end of the Vietnam War, I’m pleased to know this group of deserving veterans will finally receive proper recognition – an honor that is long overdue,” said Congressman Amodei. “Since first learning the process had failed these veterans, I’ve been committed to advancing this effort through the House for the past two Congresses. In doing so, it's been a pleasure to work alongside the dedicated group of people at the VHPA, who have worked tirelessly to see this through to fruition. I also thank Senators Baldwin and Sullivan for teaming up with me and supporting this initiative.”
The new commemorative monument was authorized following conversations between the VHPA and Karen Durham-Aguilera, Executive Director of the Army National Military Cemeteries. The monument will contain all the design elements in the original Vietnam Helicopter Pilot and Crewmember Monument proposal and the bipartisan Vietnam Helicopter Crew Monument Act.
The monument will be placed next to the VHPA-dedicated tree along the sidewalk bordering Memorial Drive, near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington National Cemetery. The VHPA has agreed to fund the construction and installation costs of the monument.