Covering Covington County: Vietnam Veterans Honored in South Alabama

A UH-1 that once flew missions over Vietnam is now displayed at the South Alabama Regional Airport in Andalusia.  "It's a tribute to Army aviation," said Vietnam Veteran Bob Kelley.

Active and retired military aviators from around the country came for the dedication. John Givhan flew a huey in Vietnam. He says, "It's important for young people to know the history of Army aviation in the Vietnam War."

As they honored one generation of soldiers, another flew overhead, the Army Aviators from Ft. Rucker.  "The young folks said you set the example and we are going to follow it. That makes us feel great," said Givhan.

For the veterans, the memorial is a tribute to their service. It's an honor some feel is long overdue. "We were downgraded because of what you had to do to protect this country. It was terrible, but now it's getting better. It still makes me cry," said one Veteran.

Also Friday, a reminder of how much the world has changed since the days those aviators fought in Southeast Asia.  In Washington, for the first time ever, President Bush welcomed Vietnam's president to the White House.  While most of the their talks centered on trade, it also covered criticism of Vietnam's human rights abuses.  Trade with Vietnam is big business. Ten billion dollars last year alone.

In another significant step, Vietnam's president signed an agreement that could lead to free trade talks.