Bell Kiowa Helicopter Imposing Presence in Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park

In 1971 the Australian Army in Vietnam leased eight Bell OH-58A Kiowa Helicopters from the United States Army for use in observational roles. These roles included visual reconnaissance, target marking and bomb damage assessment, air courier tasks, and radio rebroadcasting.

These helicopters were also used in “sniffer” missions to locate the position of enemy troops in the heavily vegetated jungle. They also conducted “top cover” missions to co-ordinate other groups and act as spotter support for other assets and units.

They were not armed but could cruise at up to 135 miles per hour (218 kmh) and cover a range of 460 kilometres.

One of these eight helicopters has been mounted in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park on Bribie Island and overlooks the RSL across the road on Toorbul St at Bongaree. The helicopter is dedicated to all those who served in helicopter operations in Vietnam including No.9 Squadron RAAF (Huey), 161 (indep) Recce Flight and RAN (Emu) Flight which formed part of the US Army 135 Assault Helicopter Company.

The recent addition adds to the park which serves as a place of reflection and respect for Vietnam Veterans. The park has a sign which says “honouring the fallen and fighting like hell for the living” denoting the troubled history of treatment of veterans of this conflict.

Next time you drop in to the RSL with friends take a moment to visit the park and learn more about the Kiowa.

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