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Arlington Cemetery's dwindling space to make room for a long-awaited memorial to Vietnam helicopter pilots

April 10, 2017 (Photo Credit: PO2 Patrick Kelley/Coast Guard)
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that a small monument was proposed to honor helicopter pilots who died in the “Helicopter War” during a meeting between the new executive director of Army National Military Cemeteries and Vietnam veterans. 

Previous attempts by the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association for a monument were denied by cemetery officials, according the Journal Sentinel. The concern was that other groups would want a memorial and the dwindling space at Arlington Cemetery should be reserved for graves. However, the new director seems to be more receptive to the group's efforts.

Bob Hesselbein, Middleton veteran and former president of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, said the proposed location of the monument next to a tree is ideal, the newspaper reported.

The design of the marker would feature an UH-1 "Huey" helicopter etching with logos of all military branches and the phrase "In honored memory of helicopter pilots and crew members who gave the full measure of devotion to their nation in the Vietnam War." The exact cost of the 27.5-by-32-inch marker is not yet known. 
Hesselbein, who piloted Cobra attack helicopters in Vietnam, told the Journal Sentinel that the memorial’s cost is “a humble amount that we, of course, will pay to donate.” After all, the cost of the memorial is much less important than the recognition of the group’s fallen comrades. The group has raised enough money for the the memorial's creation, shipment, installation and upkeep.

The next step for the creation of the memorial is the approval of the design by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. Hesselbein told the Journal Sentinel that he is hoping the memorial will be complete by the end of the year so it can be dedicated in 2018.

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