Veterans to hold fundraiser to buy Huey helicopter for Brownsville’s Veterans Park

dfwnewsa | March 18, 2023 | 0 | East Texas News , South Texas News

Veterans to hold fundraiser to buy Huey helicopter for Brownsville’s Veterans Park

A group of veterans want to bring more history to Brownsville by purchasing a Huey helicopter that will be housed at Veterans Park on Central Boulevard.

But to make this possible, they need $39,000 to purchase the Huey or the UH-1 Iroquois helicopter. Huey helicopters were used in the Vietnam War.

Warriors United in Arms will hold a fundraising event to raise money to help pay for the helicopter on April 14 at 6 p.m. at a dinner held at IBC Bank at 1600 Ruben Torres Sr. Boulevard. The cost is $25 per person.

Victor Sabala, who retired from the U.S. Air Force and served as an aircraft maintenance supervisor, said the group is trying to collect at least 10% of that $39,000 amount as a down payment.

They are dealing with a man near the Fort Worth area who restores helicopters, and they are trying to raise money to purchase one from him.

The man said he would be available to meet with members of Warriors United in Arms at the end of March or early April, “so hopefully we are going to go up there and get things started,” Sabala said.

“That’s why we are doing this banquet to raise the money,” to help purchase the helicopter, said Tony Garcia, a retired U.S. Air Force sergeant who was in charge of heavy equipment.

A flag from Saigon that an American service member got from the U.S. Embassy before the Vietnamese could get it is on display at IBC Bank. The group raised $18,000 to get the flag and bring it to Brownsville.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the official conflict in Vietnam, and at the April 14 event Brownsville residents killed in the war will be remembered. Twenty-seven service members were killed, and one was reported missing in action.

Guest speakers are scheduled and veterans will speak about the importance of patriotism and reminding the public of the sacrifices veterans made to keep Americans safe, said Tony Garcia

“We are going to be talking about the cost of freedom and patriotism and what a veteran like me and all other veterans give up in order for the rest of the population to be free,” Garcia said, adding 1% of the American population defend and protect the 99% of the American population.

“We want to instill into the citizens of Brownsville that freedom is not free. There is lot of sacrifice, a lot of suffering,” Garcia said. “To me the military was the best schooling I got.”

Organizers hope to have at least 250 people in attendance.

Earlier on April 14, a free event will be held at 1:30 p.m. at Veterans Park honoring the hometown heroes.

U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas District 34, and Cameron County Pct. 1 Commissioner Sofia C. Benavides will be in attendance. The featured address will be given by Brownsville native Nora Edna Marcos, a colonel in the U.S. Army.

Organizers are working on getting a Missing Man Formation out of the Corpus Christi Naval station to conduct a flyover at the park. There will also be a 21-gun salute by the American Legion.

“Basically what we are going to do is honor our schoolmates, our friends, or neighbors and back then Brownsville was a very small town,” Garcia said. “We are going to honor our 28 men from Brownsville that loss their lives in Vietnam. We went to school with them from elementary all the way up to high school.”

“Unfortunately, they didn’t come back, and history has a way of forgetting us veterans…most of us are Vietnam veterans, and we don’t want the public to forget about them,” he said.

Not only will the names of the troops from Brownsville killed in Vietnam be read aloud but the names of others from Cameron County who were also killed in the Vietnam War, Garcia said.

“I can guarantee that nobody in the world prays more for peace than the American soldier…We have to fight the wars; we fought the wars. I don’t want my grandson to go overseas. I don’t want him to go to a foreign country and get shot at, but we are the protectors of freedom. And we will always defend freedom,” Garcia said.

Anyone seeking additional information on the event can call Tony Garcia at (956) 459-9375.

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