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The USMC/COMBAT HELICOPTER ASSOCIATION was begun by a few former helicopter pilots who wondered what had become of the people they used to fly with during the Vietnam War. Like so many, we had lost contact over the years with some close friends that we had made during our combat tours in Vietnam. Therefore, with a couple of phone calls, we began locating people. One thing led to another, and the next thing we knew we were having a reunion in Las Vegas in 1988. Approximately 200 people, representing all of the helicopter types that we flew, attended for a long weekend of fun. It was such a success that we began publishing a directory and a newsletter.
There were so many that were unable to attend the first reunion, having just heard about our new group, we decided to hold another get together just two years later in 1990, again in Las Vegas. This time over 400 people showed up. Our attendance was now open to all who were associated with our in-country helicopter operations. The second reunion included former pilots, gunners, crewchiefs, maintenance personnel, chaplains, corpsmen and flight surgeons. The whole idea was to get together and see old friends while re-telling war stories and reviving the camaraderie that is unique among us.
The idea really caught on, so we held a third reunion in Washington D.C., during June 1992. The attendance was over 600. A fourth reunion was held in September 1994 at Pensacola Beach. The attendance was approximately 1,000. The majority of Marines attended with their wives and many brought guests. It was a casual beach atmosphere for the four day event. The reunions have evolved into a very casual family-oriented event.
The next Reunion was held in Las Vegas in June 1996.
The attendance continued to increase, exceeding 1,300. We then went back to Pensacola Beach for the last Reunion in September 1998, with an attendance exceeding 1900. We have graduated to a membership that includes owners of warbirds from the squadrons in Vietnam, including UH-34D.s and UH-1E.s. Each member elects a Squadron organization(s) of his choice with which he becomes affiliated. We have twenty-five such organizations, with squadrons that served in the Republic of Vietnam under MAG-16, MAG-36, ProvMag-39 and MAG-11 between 1962 and 1975. We allow one evening at each reunion exclusively for a squadron-only event.
San Diego in August 2000, and on Pensacola Beach in October 2002 saw our reunion attendance go over 2000 members, their families and the families of our fallen brothers.
Another successful reunion was held in Reno, July 2004; during this reunion full membership was expanded to include all USMC Combat Helicopter veterans, with an appropriate name change from The USMC Vietnam Pilot and Aircrew Helicopter Association to The USMC COMBAT HELICOPTER ASSOCIATION.
Successful reunions followed in Dallas, Washington, D.C., Reno, Orlando, San Diego, and most recently in Jacksonville, Florida.
Our latest Association Directory contains over 6000 names of Marine helicopter crews and support staff that flew combat missions together in Vietnam. This is a grass roots organization that is run and supported exclusively by us...and for us. It is based on maintaining the camaraderie developed among those who crewed or supported Marine Helo/Tiltl Rotor aviation and includes associate members who have an interest in Marine Helo/Tilt Rotor aviation
We get together every two years (even years) to remember the good times, and to remember our friends who died during and after each conflict.
There are a number of ways to sign up onine at our website under "Recruiting." All required information can be provided there and payment made by PayPal. You can also print the Dues Form from the website page and submit it directly with a check. When registration is complete by either means, additional items will be sent to you. You will receive the Association Directory for your Membership Year, which is produced and distributed in the spring of that year and Association decals. We hope that you decide to "join-up" again with some of the best friends you ever had, and we look forward to seeing you at the next reunion!
We're in this for the fun of it.