NC veterans will escort Vietnam War helicopters through Inaugural Parade
Posted January 19
Washington — As preparations are finalized for President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday, a group of Vietnam veterans said they are eager for what the next four years brings.
The inaugural parade will have a local feel, with 30 Vietnam veterans from North Carolina in attendance and proud to honor the new commander-in-chief.
Six choppers were hauled up Interstate 95 to be part of the parade. They all saw action in the skies over Vietnam, as did so many of the North Carolina veterans who traveled to Washington, D.C., to be part of history.
The veterans were also part of history 50 years ago, when they flew a total of 20,000 combat hours.
“When you’re young like that, you’re bullet proof,” said retired Marine Maj. Gen. Tom Braaten.
Braaten flew 900 hours over Vietnam, and he’s proud of his service.
“You know that your brothers are on the ground, they need help. They need food, they need ammunition, they need water, they need to be rescued. They need to get out of a hotspot or get put into a hotspot, so your job was to support the man on the ground, and that’s what we did,” he said.
As the old helicopters make their way down Pennsylvania Avenue on Friday, the veterans will proudly guide them, knowing they were part of a special team with a special mission.
“Helicopters are in touch with the grunts all the time. The fast movers, they fly over the top. You can’t do without them. I mean, they’re dropping bombs for us, and they’re keeping us alive, but if you’re a helicopter guy, you’re briefing with them, you know them, you talk to them, you feel a part of it,” Braaten said.
The pilots also take the helicopters around to schools and other organizations across North Carolina. They want to make sure everyone at least has the knowledge of a battle that was fought that many have already begun to forget.