During the Vietnam War, nearly 5,000 American helicopter pilots and crewmembers lost their lives, fighting in what is often referred to as the “Helicopter War.” When I heard from Vietnam veterans in Wisconsin about the need for a national monument to honor these fallen heroes, I wanted to take action.
I worked across party lines with Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan and Nevada Rep. Mark Amodei to introduce the Vietnam Helicopter Crew Monument Act to move this memorial forward.
This year, after pressure from Congress and veterans, the Secretary of the Army agreed to place the monument in Arlington National Cemetery to honor Vietnam helicopter pilots and crewmembers and allow their friends, family and brothers in arms to pay tribute to their courageous sacrifice.
This would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of Bob Hesselbein of Middleton, Wisconsin, who served as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam and has spent years working for this monument. With Bob’s leadership and the work of countless other veterans in the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, we were able to do right by our veterans and secure this memorial.
In April, I had the honor of attending the unveiling and dedication at Arlington Cemetery. The brave heroes who served as helicopter pilots and crewmembers during the Vietnam War have earned this recognition. I’m so proud to see this monument become a reality at long last so we can honor their sacrifice and remember their courage for generations to come.
• Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin Democrat, serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee where she is on the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee. Sen. Baldwin also serves on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.