Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Charlie ready to ship.

Last Thursday I travelled over to Everett, WA to prepare Charlie for transport to Sandpoint. First I had to pick throught eight piles of what appeared to be just plain junk, to see if there were any parts in the piles we might need.  At first glance I saw nothing.  Upon closer inspection, I noticed some small thing or two that we might need. I found a tail wheel strut and an oleo and two tires, some windows. Then I really began to get into it. I picked a pile of things and put them into the belly of the beast.You just never know when you might need an extra piece of sheet metal to patch up some holes, an extra landing light, or  more wire screen to cover the engine cooling intakes. So I loaded up!                                                   I also  found clam-shell doors to cover where the engine used to be.
Then Carson, a former Navy F-14 pilot, and one very nice fellow, helped me to stuff the four 200 pound rotor blades down the throat of poor Charlie. At that time I got a finger between a rotor blade and the floor.  OWW!   My first helicopter injury in decades!

I couldn't pass us the ninety pound cooling fan assembly, even tho we will not have an engine to cool.  It was just too unique a  piece to leave in the trash heap.  I can see it mounted on an axel with numbers on each blade, a la old-time-western-movie gambling hall, to spin to determine how much the next person will donate! Could it be you? Are you willing to spin the cooling fan of fortune?

Donations continue to come in, thanks very much to all who have generously donated so far. And to those who have not yet, but are going to do so.  We can still use more tax-deductible donations.

Then I took a lot of photos and made a lot of measurements in preparation for Charlie's move to her new home.  Details of move and date still unknown at this time. Watch this space for updates.

There have been many phone calls after the article in our local paper, the Bonner County BEE.  Several people have offered to help with every aspect.  Two former Marine Corps Master Sergeants, retired, former crew chiefs, have offered to help reconstruct Charlie.  We even got a mention on the Spokane T V channel 6, KREM, and today I had a call from a fellow in Rochester, New York telling me he heard about the project in a veteran's news twitter source!  Charlie really is getting noticed.  We are having fun now!

Monday, March 28, 2011

HOT FLASH! dawgblog goes national!

We just received this from Rich Faletto, previously mentioned author of
"Four-Eleven,  Pulaskis, Planes and Forest Fires":

"Bill, AP picked it up and it went national."


We are having FUN now!

Marilyn Hales when she was a young Sgt.of Marines

Here is a picture of number one "DAWG" supporter Marilyn Hales when she was a young sergeant of Marines in WW 2.  She was the first to contribute to "Charlie's" care and feeding, and, so far, the ONLY person to donate TWICE!

See March 4th post for a recent picture of Marilyn.
             She is STILL beautiful as everl!

3rd page of BEE article

3rd page of Bonner County BEE article from
March 25th, 2011 about Charlie.

My scanner is on the fritz, so these images are taken with a digital camera.

(I am still figuring out how to put pages in sequence, hence the backwardization of the article pages.)

(click on pages to enlarge print)

B.C. BEE article, bottom half

Here is the bottom half of the FRONT PAGE, RED-LETTER article about "Charlie" from March 25th, 2011

B.C. BEE article, top half

(click on pages to enlarge them)


Full article from Bonner County BEE March 25, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Charlie" is going to be famous!

Today's pictutre is of two H-34's from HMM-363 landing aboard the U.S.S. Ogden in the South China Sea offshore Quang Ngai provence, South Viet Nam, March or April 1967. Operation Deckhouse VI.


Today reporter Cameron Rasmusson from our local newspaper, The Bonner County BEE, met with the leaders of our local veterans groups to get the story on our H-34 project.
Present were Howard Bigelow, President of Post No. 890 of the Vietnam Veterans of America, (Biggest Post in idaho.) Everett Wood, Commandant of Detachment No.1110 of the local Marine Corps League, Dick Sandall, treasurer of 890, and Tim Hogan, member of  Det. 1110. and myself, Bill Collier, member of both organizations.
We gave Cameron all the information we could about the project. (Lucky you, you already know all about it, having read all the previous posts.) He said he would get to work on his article right away, and we could expect to see it in the newspaper soon, perhaps a week-end feature article.
I then went over to the office of Quality Auto Body on Superior St.and talked to Richard Olliver and his wife, Jonnie Bradley*  to confirm if it might be possible for us to park the helicopter in the fenced side yard of their shop for a while until we make final prepearations for the proper display of out trophy.  He was all for it!

My next step is to go to Everett, WA tomorrow to Paine Field, and make the final arrangement for delivery.  I must make some measurements, and pick through piles of old H-34 bits and pieces to make sure I get the best ones available for our Charlie. It should be an interesting day.
One option we are seriously considering is putting Charlie permanently on her own trailer, so that we can take her for frequent outings.  Can you imagine her in the 4th of July parade?  Or at our local standown?  We have already had a tenative OK to put her in our local "Lost in the 50's" parade with all the old 1950's cars in May! I think she would be a great magnet for fund-raising, membership drives, and just to have around at various veteran functions.  All we need is a long-term  inside storage for her. And of course a trailer.

Does anybody have a nasty, rusty, yucky, dirty, unwanted old 30-ish foot long low-boy type trailer lying around you do not want?  Please consider donating it to the V.V. A. for Charlie. 
Thanks for reading today.
Next report from Everett with more pictures.

*Jonnie publishes WISE GUIDE, a truly wonderful, informative LOCAL guide  full of  LOCAL resources for LOCAL seniors.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Helicopter paid for! More money needed for rebuild.

In the most recent post I stated that we were "within a very few dollars" of paying for the helicopter. This morning I had a call from good friend Rich Faletto,* retired Air Force, said he would like to meet me at our local coffee house and make a donation. "SURE!" I said, "Meet you at 10:30." We met; Rich handed me a check for $100. Thank you, Rich. That left us just $20 short for the full purchase price of the "dawg." I mentioned that to the group of friends I was sitting with, which included Marilyn Hales, the WW2 Marine Corps veteran who made the very first donation to kick off the fund raising campaign. (See March 3rd blog entry with picture of Marilyn.) Marilyn reached into her wallet and handed me a twenty! She was the first to donate, and she is the last to donate towards paying for the helicopter. THANK YOU AGAIN Marilyn!

But please do not let that stop you from donating. We still have to get the "dawg" relocated to Sandpoint from Everett, WA, get a few parts attached, and some kind of paint job on old "Charlie." We may also have to buy a large 5th wheel trailer or goose-neck, for moving it around. So please feel free to send a few bucks out our way. A donation does not have to be big. Most of the donations so far have been for $100 or more, but we will be glad to accept $50, $20, or even $10.00. Keep those cards and letters coming folks!

*Rich Faletto is the author of recently published
"FOUR-ELEVEN! Pulaskis, Planes & Forest Fires"
It is a his personal memoir of working his way up from trail maintenance worker to observer pilot, U.S. Forest Service on the Chelan Ranger District, Wenatchee National Forest, WA. After college he joined the U.S. Air Force, retiring from there after a full career. I have read Rich's book and can highly recco it to anyone as a good, honest account of what it was like in those early days of Forest Service flying. He knew and worked with some of the early greats. Lots of pictures. Rich is also mentoring me on my memoirs of a lifetime career of helicopter flying.
Here are photos of a Marine Corps H-34D from HMM-363 approaching and landing atop Marble Mountain just S.E. of DaNang, Viet Nam.  Summer, 1967.   Notice the green cloud just below the helicopter.  This is from a smoke grenade, to give us wind speed and direction for landing.  The Marines maintained an observer post atop the mountain. (O.P.)

Monday, March 14, 2011

We have lift-off!

Today we got another HUGE donation from yet another AIRBORNE group of donors!
YEA AIRBORNE!!!  Five men donated a total of $1100, mostly anonymously again.
That, combined with $480 that came in the mail over the week-end, puts us within a very few dollars of the cash needed to pay off the balance for the purchase of the H-34 helicopter.
All further donations will go towards the refurbishing, painting and placing of the helicopter on display somewhere in Sandpoint, with perhaps a bit of reserve for maintenance.
We sent  a press release to our local newspaper and hope to see an article in the Bonner County Daily BEE some time soon.
Another  GIANT THANK YOU!  to all those who have donated to this cause.
Here is another picture of "Charlie."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Man in the Doorway

Here is something from You-Tube about the "grunts" point of view of helicopters.  it's all about Hueys, but the sentiment is the same.  The troops appreciated the helicopters!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

H-34 on deck of Hospital U.S.S. REPOSE

The U.S.S. Repose loitered off the shore of Viet Nam so we could take wounded Marines directly to a state-of-the-art hospital.

We could get wounded from the field to the O.R. in 15 minutes.  Look closely, you can see the H-34 on the heli-deck of the ship. 

An amusing story here:  Capt. Paul Courtney was taking wounded out to the Repose.  He called ahead, asking the ship's crew to bring him a carton of Raleigh cigarrettes from the ship's store, something Paul could not get at our base. The radio operator asked Capt. Courtney is he saved those Raleigh coupons, hoping perhaps that if he didn't, the radio operator could have the coupons for himself.  Capt. Courtney's immediate response was, "Of course I collect those coupons, where do you think I got this nitfy helicopter?"

A BIG Donation to project!!!

Did you hear the one about the former Airborne who walked into the VFW hall in Sandpoint, handed Howard, the manager,  $700 CASH for our project, turned around and walked out?

You have now.  That happened yesterday!

Thank you anonymous AIRBORNE !!!

This gets us well on our way to paying for the helicopter.

We still will need to keep those donations coming in to help prepare, paint and place the beastie on a pedestal, so keep those cards and letters coming in folks.

And a giant thank you to every one who has donated so far, those of you who have pledged and have not yet sent a check, and  those of you who will, but just have not decided yet. Or those of you who are going to donate and don't even know it yet!
This is happening, helicopter lovers of the world.!

Make check out to V V A post 890
put:  "H-34 project" on the notes line

this should make the donation tax deductible

send to:
Bill Collier
402 Sandpoint ave.
No. 224
ID 83864

I am going to post more interesting pictures right away.

H-34 medevac reenactment--a reason why we love this helicopter

What's missing here is the smells!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Approach to Rockpile, full series of three.

An H-34 at work in Viet Nam

The picture below is a Marine Corps H-34D  landing atop the "Rockpile" in I Corps, Northern South Viet Nam.  The helicopter is from from HMM-161. It was taken in the fall of 1966 by this author.
The Rockpile is about half way between Dong Ha and Khe Sanh., only a few miles south of North Viet Nam, and about 20 miles from the Laotian border.
Infamous "Mutter Ridge" is less than one-half mile north of here.More on this later, perhaps.
(HMM means Helicoper, Medium, Marine)

Our dawg "Charlie" is a brother to the pictured H-34.

An H-34D at work in Viet Nam

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Another view of "Charlie"

Another picture of "dawg" Charlie

Here is another picture of the H-34 up for restoration.
I have decided that because it is a "Charlie" model, we must call it Charlie.

So here is dawg Charlie!

I stand corrected!

All this time I have been looking at this helicopter I knew this was a former U.S. Army H-34. HECK, it says ARMY right on it in great big letters; you can see them in the pictures. It never occurred to me that it was not a "D" model. Fellow Air Americas pilots Vladimir Broz and Duane Keele have corrected me: this is a "C" model. Horrors! How can I go on calling this a "dog" when it is not?
Does this mean I am a total disgrace to helicopter-dom?
Is this going to end the project?
Of course not on both counts.
It may not be a "D" model, but it is still a "dawg" and worthy of our respect and attention.

Also worthy of our money. Please keep those cards and letters (full of checks--I have actually received only one so far) coming in. Counting all the pledges so far, we are more than half way towards getting over the initial financial hump. Thanks to all who have donated so far, and for those still waffling, just do it:

send checks made out to
Viet Nam Veterans of America, Post 890
c/o bill collier
402 Sandpoint ave. no. 224
ID, 83864

put "for H-34 project" on notes line.
I will post some more pictures soon.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Here is the picture of WW2 vet Marilyn Hales

First donation received!

We received out first donation in hand this morning!

This morning while having coffee with my circle of friend at my fav. coffee shop, one of my friends (see above) handed me a check for the dawg project.

This woman is a WW2 veteran.  Her name is Marilyn Hales.  (see picture) She joined the Marines in honor of twin neighbors and close firiends who were killed in the Arizona when Pearl was attacked . She served in Pearl Harbor (after the attack of course) as a control tower operater, and served in D.C. too in cryptography. Hats off to WW2 veterans!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

a real live "dawg", now in Everett, WA

First pledge from today's posting!

I am very pleased that we already have a pledge from former Air America H-34 pilot, Captain and H-34 pilot extraordinaire,  Joe Lopes for $200.00
That makes for a total of $1500 already.  The first amounts came from local supporters in our home area.

Thank you Captain Joe!  You da man!


March 3, 2011  10:30 A.M.
This morning I committed to buying the H-34 in Everett!
Please help me pay for it before my wife has ME committed!
I have sent an email to many, many helicopter/aviation interested friends.

If you read this, please send a donation to: 
Bill Collier
402 Sandpoint Ave,  no. 224
Sandpoint, ID 83864

Put  V V A post no. 890 in the payee line,
and note "for H-34 helicopter project" on the notes line
This should make your donation tax deductible.

This is getting very exciting!
Now the problem is to find a place to park the beast for a while until we get it together and through city hall to place it on a pedestal at the local VFW hall.  Wish us luck.
Please help us buy an H-34!
Dear Helicopter pilots and fans,
I recently found out, through an email from a fellow Air America pilot H-34 Duane Keele, that some old, derelict H-34’s are available for a mere $1000.00 each! We want to buy one to put on display at our local VFW hall..
Having flown those things for more than 4000 hours in Viet Nam for the Marine Corps, in Laos with Air America, and several civilian jobs after that (Alaska, Saudi Arabia, California to name a few), I had to look into the possibility of buying one of these things. But, what to do with it? I live in a condo; I do not even have a garage, much less one big enough for a helicopter that has a minimum footprint of 36 X 13.5 feet (as per the NATOPS Manuel)!
I have convinced the Viet Nam Veterans, Post No. 890 and the Marine Corps League, Detachment 1110, of Sandpoint, Idaho (where I live) that we need one of these things to put on display at our local VFW hall. They have agreed to allow me to pursue this project, so long as I do all the work. I am willing to do this, but we need some financial help here.

(See pictures, attached)
The fellow who had the H-34’s in AZ, also has a few in Everett, WA. I was there last Wednesday (2/23/2011). I saw that he has one that is pretty much complete, even though it does not look like it in the pictures. He has the clamshell doors, rotor blades, cargo door, struts and wheels to add to this hulk. It will require some sprucing up to look a little better, but up on a pedestal, no one will be looking too closely at it, (I hope.) It certainly is not ever going to fly again; in fact, it has no engine. (He has one that is “nearly ready” to be in Restricted category, if anybody is interested, for a mere $35,000. I am sure it would take another 150k to get it into the air.)
So I am asking all of you who ever flew an H-34, or even if you never did, please send a donation to:
VVA Post 890,
c/o Bill Collier
402 Sandpoint Ave.
No. 224,
Sandpoint, Idaho, 83864.
This donation is also tax deductible if you make the check out to VVA post 890, and note on it “for H-34 project.”
For a donation, I will add your name to our honored “Dawg Drivers” hall of fame, and your name will be on a plaque forever commemorating your generosity. And if you are ever in Sandpoint, you can stop by and visit “your” dawg.
By the way, the $1,000 price is just for the basic hulk; with all the other bits, the price was $5000. Also, I am sure there will be other expenses getting it moved to No. Idaho, getting a pedestal designed and built, and getting the critter presentable to the eye.
So I see a need for a total of $10,000 here; I already have pledges for $1300. Please let me know by reply email if you are sending a donation, thanks.
Also, Please forward this request to anybody you know who has ever flown an H-34, anybody who has ever flown any helicopter, anybody who has ever flown in any helicopter, anybody who has any interest in helicopter aviation or veterans groups, or anyone who has ever heard of or thought of any thing to do with aviation, helicopters or veterans. Or perhaps just some generous friends….
Thank you so much just for taking the time to read all this.
I am getting it together to create a blog so everyone can follow along on this adventure.
Thanks again,
Captain Bill Collier
Viet Nam Veterans of America, Sandpoint, ID, board of directors.
Marine Corps League, former Adjutant/Paymaster,
Detachment #1110, Sandpoint, ID.
Former Captain, USMCR, H-34 pilot, Viet Nam
Former Captain, H-34 pilot, Air America, Laos
Former Captain, Uh1-E pilot, Orange County Fire Dept. (senior pilot) SoCal,
H-34 pilot (dawg driver) forever!
P.S. I do not know if I have a claim to fame here or not, but I believe I was the first person to start referring to the H-34D as the “Dawg.“ In U.S. Navy flight school, late 1966, I was flying H-34’s at Ellyson field near Pensacola, about to finish up training and get my shiny new Navy wings of Gold. As I walked to the hangar one day for a flight I ran into fellow student Edward Kufeldt. He asked me where I was going. “To fly myself a dog,” I replied. He asked why I called it a dog, seeming a bit put off that I would call our fine machine by such a derogatory name.
I assured him that I meant no defamation of the big Sikorsky, it just was that as a child of the baby-boomer generation, I had grown up in the after glow of World War 2. In that war, the phonetic pronunciation for the letter D was “dog“, not “delta” as we had been taught in our then-modern military. I was just using the WW2 archaic word for the letter D, “Dog.”
For those of you who are associated with the “Pop-a-Smoke” Marine Corps Helicopter pilots and Air Crew Association, I am the one who's wife Michele created the smiley face H-34 logo for the organization, long before the organization was ever formed.