Helicopter a salute to Pike County veterans

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 8, 2001

News Editor

The Cobra has landed in Troy’s Bicentennial Park.

On Wednesday traffic was stopped on U.S. 231 and South Brundidge Street as

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the long-awaited Cobra helicopter was transported from Sikorsky Support Services by a Wiley Sanders truck to Bicentennial Park.

Plans for placing a helicopter in Bicentennial Park was an idea of Joyce Austin. After Desert Storm was over Austin thought Troy needed a way to recognize veterans even more.

"I thought it would be an asset to our community," Austin said of the helicopter.

Working with State Rep. Alan Boothe, fellow members of the Bicentennial Park Committee and veterans, she was able to accomplish that feat.

While the Cobra was being placed on its pedestal at its new home, Vietnam veterans Billy Brubaker and Bill Sanderlin watched with pride.

Brubaker was a door gunner and ration driver during the Vietnam War and actually flew in a Cobra.

"I think it’s fantastic," he said of the Cobra’s placement in Bicentennial Park. "People coming into Troy from the north might get a little scared when they see those guns pointing right at them."

Sanderlin brought his grandson Alex Green to the park with him. He said he was happy to see the helicopter in Bicentennial Park.

"I love it," Sanderlin said. "I’m just glad to see it’s a Cobra instead of a Huey."

The Cobra has been in the hands of the skilled workers at Sikorsky where it was being refurbished. While at Sikorsky Lockheed Martin supplied missiles for the helicopter so it would look combat ready.

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said he is excited to see the Cobra in place and just in time for the Veterans’ Day service that will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Nov. 12.

"The original suggestion was made by Joyce Austin many years ago," Lunsford said. "It wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of the Sikorsky employees that sanded it down and painted it. It’s authentic and the realism is enhanced by the missiles that were supplied by Lockheed Martin."

Lunsford expressed his appreciation to Sikorsky, Lockheed Martin, Rep. Alan Boothe for helping secure funds, Wiley Sanders Truck Lines for providing transportation to get the Cobra to the park and to the city employees who assisted in the project.

The Cobra at Bicentennial Park has been a popular topic for Lunsford and other mayors in the Wiregrass.

"Cities like Opp, Enterprise and Dothan have Huey’s," Lunsford said. "Huey’s are the ones that carried in troops and supplies. We have a Cobra and they are the ones that did the fighting. I tell the mayors of those cities that we will be protecting the Wiregrass."