By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterSeptember 29, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker unveiled a new monument, dedicated to the 45 Soldiers of the 170th Assault Helicopter Company "Bikinis" who were lost in combat during the Vietnam War, during a ceremony at Veterans Park Sept. 23.
Former members of the unit and family members attended the ceremony, along with Soldiers and other members of the Fort Rucker community, to remember those who fought and sacrificed, said retired Col. George Crawford, former commander of the 170th.
"It is indeed a somber day," he said. Many of you have been to Washington, D.C., and seen the over 58,000 names (on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall), and these names are on there.
"These were all Soldiers, and these were young men full of life and a lot of fun, and they gave their all," he continued. "It makes you swallow hard when you think about these people."
During the ceremony, the monument was unveiled, a wreath was placed in honor of those fallen and a roll call was performed of each of the names etched into the monument, followed by a bell toll for each fallen Soldier. Additionally, 45 seats with the names of each of the fallen service members were left empty in honor of their sacrifice.
CW5 Anthony Reed, 1st Aviation Brigade, was among those in attendance and spoke during the ceremony.
"I grew up watching the Vietnam War on TV, and at the time I did not understand what they were sacrificing, but I knew that I was watching brave men risking their lives, and some giving their lives to defeat an enemy of the United States," he said during the ceremony. "I did not comprehend those sacrifices they were making until I actually went to war."
Reed said he sits in his office every day and sees the tail fin of an aircraft that was shot down in Cambodia in 1970, during which all crewmembers were lost. It provides him with a somber reminder of the sacrifices service members have made throughout the years.
"From 1965 to 1971, the heroics of the Bikinis are well documented," he said. "The Bikinis have earned numerous valorous awards, and if you look at the brigade colors, some of the streamers are a direct result of the 170th.
"The Bikinis went to war without the benefit of previous helicopter unit's techniques, tactics and procedures," he continued. "They developed them on the fly, and some of those tactics, techniques and procedures that were developed by the Bikinis are still used today."
Reed provided a John Stuart Mill quote that spoke to him of the sacrifices that each of those Bikinis made throughout the war.
"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things," the quote reads. "The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
"As a citizen Soldier of this great country, I want to thank you for your sacrifices and bravery, and being the better men," said Reed to the Soldiers of the 170th.