Vietnam vets present painting at NIM
March 18, 2014
By Nick Duke
FORT BENNING, Ga. (March 19, 2014) -- Veterans of the 174th Assault Helicopter Company visited the National Infantry Museum Friday to present several items representing the company's history to the museum.
Among the items was a print of a painting entitled Nothing Impossible, which was painted by aviation artist Joe Kline and depicts several of the company's Soldiers and aircraft in combat during the company's deployment to Vietnam from 1966 to 1971.
The company has deep ties to Fort Benning, as the unit was activated at Fort Benning in October 1965 before its April 1966 deployment. As such, museum director Frank Hanner said the Soldiers of the company had earned their place in the museum.
"We're here not only for the history of the U.S. Infantry, but also for any Soldiers who have served at Fort Benning," Hanner said. "These men are part of Fort Benning history. They left here after training and did a great job in Vietnam for our country, and they deserve to be remembered here as long as there's a Fort Benning."
Among the aircraft depicted in the print is a UH-1C gunship bearing the "shark's teeth" design painted on the nose of the craft.
The company adopted the nose design from the famed "Flying Tigers" of World War II, with Brig. Gen. Robert Scott, a former commander of the China Air Task Force, granting the unit permission to do so.
Scott gave his permission in a letter to Maj. Dick Overhamm of the 174th, and a framed copy of Scott's letter was also presented to the museum.
Retired Lt. Col. Martin Heuer also presented a copy of his book Sharks, Dolphins, Arabs and The High Priced Help, which deals with the history of the 174th and is based off of daily letters Heuer sent to his wife during the unit's formation and initial deployment.
Heuer said the 174th was the only unit to receive permission to use the "shark's teeth" design, although many units soon adopted it as well.
"Only one unit in the Army had permission to do it," he said. "Every single aviation company in Vietnam took part of that letter and changed it to make it look as if Brig. Gen. Scott gave that permission to everyone. ... When you have a helicopter as mean looking as this and you make it even meaner by putting the age-old symbol of shark's teeth on it, the other units saw that flying around and just could not stand it. ... Eventually, I think they just decided they were going to do it. ... It was something everybody just had to have."
About a dozen veterans of the 174th attended the presentation, and 174th veteran Carl Muthersbaugh said theattendance was a testament to the quality of the Soldiers that comprised the unit.
"There's not a finer group of men that you could have served with," Muthersbaugh said.
NIM to honor Vietnam veterans
The National Infantry Museum will salute Vietnam veterans Thursday-Sunday as part of the nation's ongoing 50th anniversary commemoration of the Vietnam War.
The highlight of the four-day event will be the dedication of the new Vietnam Memorial Plaza, featuring the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall.
A ceremony will be held Friday immediately following the 10 a.m. graduation of new Infantry Soldiers on Parade Field adjacent to the museum.
On Thursday, the National Infantry Foundation will host "Vietnam: Valor and Sacrifice," a half-day symposium and dinner featuring four Vietnam Medal of Honor recipients, four former Vietnam prisoners of war and guest speakers.
Registration is required for the symposium and dinner; tickets can be purchased at www.nationalinfantrymuseum.org.
At 4 p.m. Saturday, there will be an exclusive screening of a new documentary about the Vietnam War. Brothers in War - produced by Lou Reda Productions for the National Geographic Channel. The screening is free and open to the public on a first-come, first-seated basis. The film recounts the combat experiences of the men of C Company, one of the last American combat Infantry companies to be drafted, trained and sent to fight together in Vietnam.
Source: National Infantry Museum