Ugly Angels Get A Special Dedication In Inola

Saturday, October 23rd 1999, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

A rare, old bird came alive in green country bringing back memories of Vietnam for several marines.

UH-34 crew members and pilots, call themselves the Ugly Angels. They're scattered across the country. Many of them came together Saturday in Inola and took a trip back in time in the only H 34 helicopter flying today.

"We were their angels, we weren't very good looking, the aircraft wasn't good looking, so they called us the ugly angels," says Colonel Archie Clapp.

The Ugly Angels leader was Clapp, his squadron was originally called Archie's angel's but the name changed.

"I wondered why they had done it, until I inspected the troops today, then it started to make more sense," says Clapp.

The Ugly Angels flew H-34's. "The last time I saw one of these fly was 1969," says Clapp.

"I'm meeting guys here, I haven't seen in 30 years. I'm thinking about people I'll never see again, it's very heart-wrenching. I'm learning to cope with it."

Sixty-two men gathered to remember the 33 men they will never see again, fellow soldiers they lost in Vietnam. They're in Inola because of the helicopters owner, Gerald Hail.

"The reason we bought it was for the parts, we had no intention of rebuilding it," says Hail.

Mechanics and pilots praised Hail for his work on the engine and the research he did after a friend found bullet lodged in the helicopter. They say the old bird really brings back vivid memories.

Colonel Clapp took the first trip
where he actually took over the controls. Tears came to Elaine Linn's eyes as she flew with her husband and son.

"Some of things I remembered was the 4 year old son, watching the airplane that dad just left in and yelling dad come home," says Linn.

Former marines and their family thank the H-34 for being strong enough to bring them home.

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