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20th HS reunion
Eleven former 20th Helicopter Squadron members and their families visited Malmstrom Air Force Base on Aug. 27 to meet members of the base’s 40th Helicopter Squadron. Each 20th HS member served during the Vietnam War between 1966 and 1969. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. R.J. Biermann)
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40th HS hosts Vietnam-era helo unit for tour

Posted 9/5/2013   Updated 9/5/2013 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. R.J. Biermann
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

9/5/2013 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- The 40th Helicopter Squadron hosted a tour for several former members of the 20th Helicopter Squadron on Aug. 27.

Thirteen Vietnam-era, Sikorsky CH-3C helicopter flight mechanics or pilots and their families visited Sun Plaza Park to see a UH-1N Huey helicopter on static display and enjoy lunch with members of the 40th HS and their families.

"It's always good to reconnect with history and heritage," said Maj. Jeff Miser, 40th HS assistant director of operations. "It's about showing appreciation for what they did. These are guys our young guys will look up to. These guys are the real deal. They flew helicopters on top secret missions during the Vietnam War."

Maj. (Ret.) Kyron Hall, a former 20th HS member who also served in the 341st Combat Support Group from 1972 to 1974, retired out of Malmstrom in 1974 and still resides in Great Falls, Mont. Hall contacted the 40th HS to set up the tour.

"Some of these men haven't seen each other in 45 years," said Hall. "As we get older we want to remember our friends."

Aside from Hall, the 20th and 40th helicopter squadrons really have nothing in common. Both flew different helicopters, had different missions and reached decoration heights during different wars; but the differences don't matter to helicopter crew members, according to Miser.

"We're a small group of folks," Miser said. "We'll always find something to relate to one another; it's an attraction. We'll always tell stories until we find something."

Ironically enough, Miser was born in 1974, the year Hall retired. He's served in the Air Force for 16 years and has been deployed to Iraq, Yemen and Ethiopia. Hall was deployed to Vietnam for a year, which, according to him, was more than enough.

All 13 men served in Vietnam at some point between 1966 and 1969. Specifically, all of them supported project "Pony Express."

"The 20th HS' 'Pony Express' was one of the most extraordinary and outstanding combat units in Southeast Asia," Hall said. "Due to the classified nature of our mission, we didn't display any U.S. markings or insignia on our CH-3Cs. The crews wore no insignia on their flight suits either."

According to Hall, the unit's mission was to insert troops into enemy territory at dusk, undetected and without enemy contact.
Insertion was one thing; extraction was entirely different, Hall said. These men may have been detected and brought out under fire. Many medals were awarded for their actions. There are even a few Silver Star recipients here today.

In 1969 the "Pony Express" assets were transferred into the 21st Special Operations Squadron and the "Pony Express" ceased to exist.

"There aren't a lot of helicopter guys in the Air Force in general," Miser said. "There aren't necessarily a lot of helicopter squadrons in the Air Force anymore. I don't know when the last time these guys got together was, but it's important that they do."

Another reunion is tentatively scheduled for next year.

9/6/2013 10:52:57 AM ET
Thank you 40th Helicopter Squadron for visiting with the 20th SOS Pony Express veterans last month. It was a highlight of the reunion for most of us. Seeing all the changes to the Huey was very interesting. We all wished many of the improvements had existed when we served in Vietnam. A special thank you to the 40th Squadron families for the lunch they prepared. It was a very memorable experience and we appreciated your time and hospitality. TSG Retired Glenn Hunter Lubbock TX.
Glenn Hunter, Lubbock TX
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