New addition to Bicentennial

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Park dedicated Yesterday


Staff Writer

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The Cobra helicopter dedicated Monday morning will serve as a vivid reminder of those who have served the United States during times of war and peace.

Now, high above Bicentennial Park, the Cobra was shot down twice in Vietnam, but "rose again to fly" and, eventually be retired into a monument in Troy, said State Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy, who played a major role in "landing" the helicopter for his home.

The Cobra now displayed prominently just off U.S. 231 was made in 1967 and flew during times of conflict and peace between Vietnam and Desert Storm, Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said. The aircraft’s complete history is in the log book he was officially presented by Sikorsky Support Services Inc., which refurbished the helicopter free of charge for the city. Lockheed Martin Pike County Operations added missiles to the aircraft.

"We could have gotten a Huey a lot sooner, but that’s not what we wanted," Lunsford said of the long wait for a helicopter.

Since the Cobra is known as the Huey’s protector and nearby cities already had Hueys on display, Troy waited for the Cobra.

Finally, one was located at Fort Drum, N.Y., transported to SSSI’s facility in Pike County for a complete makeover and trucked over to the park, last week.

"I think this is a fitting day to dedicate this Cobra," Boothe said during the annual Veterans’ Day ceremony held Monday. "This is a symbol of our time."

During this "time of war," Boothe said it is especially important to remember the sacrifices men and women have made in the name of peace and freedom.

And, they were remembered and honored in prayer, song and speeches.

Capt. Dave Barron, who retired from the Navy, had comments that echoed those of Boothe.

Each year, Veterans’ Day "is when the nation pauses to recognize" those who gave their service and, sometimes their lives, to military service, Barron said.

"This Veterans’ Day is different from others," Barron said. "Things have changed."

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America, "have given rise to approval of veterans," Barron said of those who are often overlooked despite their contributions.

Veterans’ Day, he said, is important because it reminds Americans not to forget those who fought for freedom.

"It’s not too late to show appreciation," Barron said. "It’s never too late to let them know we care."

Those veterans Barron credits as being the "success" of the nation’s military have handed over "a lot of responsibility" to a younger force, which averages at age 19. But, reminded those attending the Veterans’ Day ceremony military forces "can’t achieve success without support of those back home."

He also reminded those present "freedom is not free" and requires both faith and resolve.

"If we do not work for freedom; freedom will most definitely not work for us," Barron said.

As part of the ceremony, local Boy Scouts formally retired a flag by properly burning it, "releasing his spirit," Scoutmaster Chuck Faulkinberry said.

The scouts first burned the red stripes, which symbolize the blood spilled in defense of America. White stripes representing the "burning tears shed by Americans who lost their sons" were then set aflame, followed by the blue field dotted with white stars that are images of "God’s heaven" and the "50 united states," Faulkinberry said.