6th Annual Tri-State 9/11 Tribute Ready for September 9

Armed Forces/Responder Display

The 6th annual Tri-State 9/11 Tribute will begin with the traditional parade at 10am with entrants lined along West Beech Streets, ready to begin their procession along South 6th Street and into the Prowers County Fairgrounds.

Huey Gunship

The annual tribute began as a simple gathering at the Prowers County Courthouse to honor and remember the First Responders who served and those who gave their lives during the collapse of the World Trade Towers in New York in 2001 as well as past and present members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Organizer Doug Harbour received many positive responses to the event and decided to schedule it for a second year.  Each year, the response was greater and the number of participants grew to the point that it had to be held at the Fairgrounds.

A flag retirement ceremony is scheduled for 11am, followed by a free patriotic concert at 11:30 and at noon, all First Responders and service members will enjoy a free bbq while all others will be charged $5. A formal Tribute Ceremony is set for 1pm at the arena.

Each year, the Tribute committee strives to bring something new to the event as well as a featured speaker to address the gathering. That is scheduled for 1pm this Saturday.  The parade will honor in memorium, Colonel Charles Jones who was aboard Flight 11, the first hijacked plane to strike the Twin Towers in Manhattan on September 11, 2001.  Jones was a former graduate of the Air Force Academy and was also an astronaut.

This year’s display will feature a VA Readjustment Counseling Service Trailer at the Fairgrounds.  It will be available for any veterans who have some issues they wish to discuss.  Contact Gary Harbert, the Prowers County Vital Statistics Officer and VA representative at 336-2606.  Some walk-in appointments may be available.

A new entry to the Tribute will be a re-built Huey Helicopter that flew during the Vietnam War. The brand name is a Bell UH-1, but was commonly known as a ‘huey’ by the pilots who flew them and the soldiers who flew in them.

The model that will be on display was a former gunship that served in a variety of capacities, from an attack and escort ‘copter, it also served in rescue and extraction missions and carried supplies and troops to and from the battlefield while assigned to the 1st Battalion, 9th Air Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile).

The helicopter was rebuilt after it was returned to Bell Helicopter in 1970 and was to be used as a drone target. However the program was cancelled and it was made available to Bill McPherson, (COL, USA, Ret) for public display and is now owned by the non-profit organization, Historic Vietnam Helicopter, Inc.

The facebook website for the organization states, “It flew gun missions during three years in Vietnam – the remainder of 1967, 1968, and 1969. It was hit by enemy fire a number of times during those missions. In 1970 the Helicopter was shipped back to Bell Helicopter in the U.S. for complete rebuild.

After rebuild, the U.S. Army issued # 0-59495 to the Nebraska Army National Guard. It was utilized by the Nebraska National Guard until it was retired in 2005. Upon retirement, it was flown to White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, to be used as a target drone. When the target drone program was cancelled, the U.S. Army determined that this Huey was “No longer serviceable for further military use.” In 2007, it was made available to Bill McPherson, (COL, USA, Ret) for public display. It is now the property of the non-profit organization, Historic Vietnam Helicopter, Inc.

It has been reconditioned and participates in parades, displays, and events along the Front Range in Colorado. In addition to countless parade viewers, this Huey has been viewed at static display sites by well over 150,000 visitors, and those numbers continue to grow.”

By Russ Baldwin

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