Edd Hogeboom: A Memorial to all Fallen Aviators

Posted on February 19, 2012

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Ft. Wolters, Texas

A 24-hour Memorial to all the fallen Aviators who had gone on ahead

While going through Primary in 1968 at Ft. Wolters, TX, it was my pleasure to be a WOC with some very special people.  Our TAC Officers were Mr. Mull and Mr. Quick.  My two closest friends and “partners in crime” were Steve Camp and Joe Cotton.  We were a little older and more street wise than most of the younger Candidates and we knew to play the game without being intimidated.

One weekend, our platoon remained on Post (no passes) and we elected to build our Class Memorial out by the street that ran by our barracks.  We all wanted something unique.  Since Cotton had a car, he, Camp, and myself use to slip off of the Post to periodically to get our “laundry.”  We had spotted what appeared to be a dumping site for old fuselages, wrecked jeeps, and etc. right by the front gate as your leaving the post.  This supposed, “dump site” could be gotten to, on foot, from our barracks by traversing about a mile of thick Texas bush.

We put together a scouting party and took the hike over to the area.  After navigating an eight foot chain-link fence, we secured the tail section of an OH-13 complete with tail rotor and rotating beacon, a small electric motor, necessary cables, pulleys, wiring etc.  We returned to the barracks carrying said tail assembly and other items over our heads and above the thick bush.

It took Saturday and most of Sunday to accomplish our project…the impact, of which, we were soon to learn.

The sun had not yet risen on the following Monday morning.  The first TAC Officer came driving up the street in front of the barracks at about 4:15.  The fog was lying close to the ground on the bank above the street where the barracks sat.  What he must have seen at first glance, I can only guess.  We had placed the forward end of the tail section in the ground at about a 45-degree angle.  The tail rotor sat up in the air, turning slowly and illuminated only by the red rotating beacon (we had rigged a pulley system and hooked the tail rotor gear box and rotating beacon to a small electrical motor – one of our WOC’s used to be an electrician, fortunately).

Our project had an eerie appearance of what would appear to be a very recent crash site, which had not been anticipated by our group.  We had actually placed a well-painted plaque stating that this was done in honor of those fallen heroes (pilots and crews) that had preceded us.  Of course it was difficult to see the plaque, especially at 4:15 a.m. from the street level.  The TAC that first spotted it sped to the Head-shed and called in a downed bird emergency to the base hospital, etc.

Within fifteen minutes, we had seven TAC Officers and one XO pacing in front of our formation of underwear clad Candidates standing at attention in the street.  Once the emergency vehicles departed the area our day really got underway.  We missed breakfast and our morning run so that we could dismantle our “Monument.”  After we got back from flying that afternoon, we were instructed to take every piece of our little project back across the Texas bush.  At least we were allowed to take it through the gate instead of over the fence this time at the “dump site.”  We were informed, actually that it was not a “dump site,” but a recycling holding area…OK, all we knew was that everything inside their fence was broken!

The CO said they could not formally press charges against all of us for stealing government property, because we didn’t try to hide it and never took it off Post.  Additionally, there was the loss of all the money the U.S. Army had already spent on our training to consider.  Therefore, we were restricted to base for the next two weekends.

Heck, we were just trying to leave a legacy to those that followed us.  I didn’t think it was near as bad as the here-to-now unknown student-pilot that landed an OH-23D on a raft-like platform out in the middle of a local lake and left it there with the gas tanks dry!

Submitted by Edd Hogeboom (Hogie), a proud member of Charlie Troop, 1st of the 9th Air Cavalry, White Team (Scouts).

Copyright 2002

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