Veteran speaks at Ohio Masonic Home event


SPRINGFIELD — The Ohio Masonic Community held an event to salute Armed Forces veterans on Wednesday morning.

Guest speaker for the event was Bob Allen, director of veterans programs for Ohio Hospice and a former Miami County resident.

Allen, a veteran of the United States Army during the Vietnam War, was a helicopter pilot, flying Hueys and Cobra gunships.

He offered his thanks to the veterans in attendance, saying, “Thank you so much for standing up when your country needed you!”

Allen related a story to the veterans about Christmas Day 1969. A cease-fire was in effect and all hands were looking forward to a quiet day and Christmas dinner when a call for volunteers went out for a helicopter crew to fly a Huey out to a forward Special Forces base near Hatien.

Allen and three other officer/pilots volunteered to fly the mission, which was to deliver Christmas dinner to the Special Forces group.

The officers decided they would fly together, allowing enlisted personnel to have Christmas Day off.

The Huey took off, loaded with Christmas dinner and sporting a large Santa Claus nose art on the aircraft.

They landed without incident and off-loaded the food when the North Vietnamese began shelling the base with mortars.

The officers immediately began loading wounded troops, flying back to their base to off-load, then pick up ammunition to take to the troops who were under fire. Allen said they lost track of how many round trips they flew before all was done.

Allen related that, not too long ago, he was giving a presentation at Van Cleve school in Troy where he told this story.

After the presentation was over, Allen said that a young sixth-grade student told him that he had heard the story before. The student said that his grandfather had told family members that he survived the war after being wounded and flown to medical care by a Huey helicopter with Santa Claus on the nose back in 1969.

The young man wanted to thank Allen for saving his grandfather’s life. He told the Vietnam veteran that if it weren’t for him, his father would not have been born, and neither would he.

The story served as a life lesson that veterans may never know how many lives they touch while serving their country.

“No one had to ask a veteran if he made a difference in someone’s life,” said Allen.

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