Attending the recent American Legion convention in Wisconsin Dells (Wisconsin) was an unexpectedly moving and heartwarming experience. I was well aware that our "vendor" exhibit was probably unusual when compared to any of the other tables. While those were filled with information on insurance programs for Veterans, local CVSO information and services, campaign buttons and pamphlets for state candidates vying for regional and national American Legion offices, or patriotic gifts such as carved wooden eagles or beautifully painted American flags, the "Honor in the Air" table had simple photos of a young Vietnam era pilot standing in front of his Huey helicopter, a framed piece of nose cone art depicting the 68th AHC Mustang's Grim Reaper, and a laptop showing a short looped video summarizing the documentary we are producing about the life and story of Captain Scott R. Alwin.
The video opened with the distinctive sounds of an approaching helicopter followed by a brief explanation of the purpose and goals of the documentary... certainly to honor Scott's heroism, but more than that, to shine a spotlight on all the valor shown by so many unsung veterans of that era. It was that video that made this such a unique experience.
When Veterans heard the 'thump, thump, thump' of the whirling rotor blades emerging from the speakers, some invariably stopped in their tracks looking for the source of that iconic sound. It drew them to our table and we'd talk. I heard stories from sailors, river-boat crew, infantry, medics, engineers, and many others. There were stories of their own service, the tours of friends and family members, and every one had some connection with the helicopters that made up such a large part of the war effort in-country. Some, especially the Vietnam Vets themselves, would stroke the nose cone and measure the thin fiberglass edges between thumb and forefinger.
Their appreciation for the pilots, including Scott, who covered their insertions and retreats and rescued their wounded, coupled with their own stories of bravery and pain, made this experience one I will never forget.
I hope we have the opportunity to bring Scott's story and our documentary proposal to many more Veterans groups in the next few months, and that when the documentary is completed, it reflects the courage and bravery displayed by so many Veterans who served our country with honor, including those who served in Vietnam.
If you are interested in scheduling an in-person or virtual presentation for your group, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to learn more about your organization, and share information about my brother Scott and our project with you.