Teaching classes about the Vietnam War
by Ed Gulesserian
" With the focus on the role of Army helicopters, The school arranged for two helicopters (Huey and Cobra) and crews to fly in, and we had 12 Army pilot Vietnam veterans to present brief workshops beside the helicopters. In addition, Joe Galloway ("We Were Soldiers ... And Young Once") attended and spoke to the students at the end of the day. The program was part of the actual class curriculum for the students in American history classes, physics classes and a Vietnam War class.
Approximately 120 students attended. They were divided into eight groups and each veteran led a discussion at one of the eight stations spread around the helicopters. We had approximately 15 minutes with each group and then they rotated to the next station. The program started with the helicopters flying in and ended with them flying out, and the always dramatic low pass over the students. Including lunch, the program ran for about five hours. The students loved it! Most of them were switched on by the subject and discussions. Plus they asked some really good questions, not just about the helicopters, but also about the war. The faculty clearly has done an extraordinary job of teaching these subjects and organizing this event. It was a great day!
To my surprise, I was one of only two veterans that were qualified in the Cobra and it's weapons systems (1972) so I for the day became a Cobra expert. I've got lots of Vietnam experience, know what it's like to get shot at and shoot back, but no Cobra combat experience. We didn't let those kind of details stand in the way of having a good discussion.
Joe Galloway has the status of a patron saint among many veterans. He's getting older like the rest of us, but his presentation was riveting. I've recommended this earlier, but encourage you to see his tribute to helicopter pilots and crews on YouTube "God's Own Lunatics". t's three minutes long and easy to find"