OSHKOSH – A life-saving helicopter and a decorated Army pilot were featured Wednesday at EAA AirVenture.
Patrick Brady earned a Medal of Honor 46 years ago. He flew the well-known ‘Huey’ helicopters during the Vietnam War.
Brady spoke to a crowd of hundreds of people in Oshkosh. He also talked to Vietnam War veterans and signed copies of his book about the war.
“It’s always emotional to be around the Huey because it was everything to the guy in Vietnam,” said Brady.
With a Huey right behind him, Brady explained the aircraft’s impact on the Vietnam War.
“We had five birds,” he said. “We covered all of Vietnam.”
The Bell UH-1 Iroquois, unofficially known as a Huey, is considered an icon of the war. The first combat mission for the Huey was in Vietnam.
Brady recalled how it helped members of the U.S Military.
“Brought him in, brought him out,” he said. “Fed him, clothed him. Brought his mail to him and then picked him up when he was hurt. So the Huey is the most exquisite combat aircraft ever.”
During two tours in Vietnam he flew more than 2,500 combat missions and rescued more than 5,000 wounded.
“It’s better than anything in life that I can think of,” said Brady. “To overcome obstacles, to find a way to get him out, to get him to the hospital where the physicians can save his life, it’s just a marvelous feeling.”
U.S. presidents have awarded nearly 3,500 Medals of Honor since the Civil War. Brady earned his in 1968 and received it in 1969. He said when he found out he was getting it, he couldn’t believe it.
“I said, ‘Yeah, you’re kidding me right?’ I had been selected earlier to be the Army aviator of the year, and I was getting a lot of gas from my fellow aviators and friends,” he said.
Brady was awarded the medal by President Richard Nixon after a series of rescues where he used three helicopters to rescue more than 60 wounded. At the end of the day, his aircraft had more than 400 holes from enemy fire and mines.
Brady retired from the Army as a major general after 34 years of service. He now shares his story to keep history alive and inspire the next generation.
“I would say, without question, if you’re going to go into the military, fly,” said Brady. “It adds a dimension of beauty to your life that you would never otherwise experience.”
Another Warbird will be featured Friday at EAA AirVenture. A P-51 pilot who flew as part of the last mission of World War II is scheduled to speak at 1 p.m.