C-7A association dedicates bench



by Donovan Jackson
Air University Public Affairs


6/27/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. - -- To commemorate Caribou Airmen who sacrificed their lives during the Vietnam War, the C-7A Caribou Association held a memorial dedication June 21 at the Enlisted Heritage Research Institute, unveiling a 1,100-pound granite bench.

The C-7A Caribou Association is a war veterans group comprised of retired Air Force personnel who had been assigned to the aircraft during the time of their service.

The bench is engraved with the names of the 39 officer and enlisted members killed during the war.

Colonel Pat Hanavan, president of the C-7A Caribou Association, and retired Maj. Gen. Monroe Smith were the guest speakers for the event. In 1968, Smith was the 483rd Tactical Airlift Wing's maintenance control officer for the C-7 at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam.

"We love and we honor the men who did not make it back from Vietnam," said Smith. "It takes a lot of motivated and well-trained service members to continue to fuel the progression within the Air Force, and I can see that it is headed in the right direction."

Hanavan also addressed the audience.

"During the five and one half years of Air Force Caribou operations in Vietnam, 14 aircraft were lost, and with them, the lives of 14 NCOs, two airmen and 23 officers," he said. "As we remember those 39 fallen brothers in arms by dedicating this memorial bench, their memory will now have a place here, with the other enlisted heroes of the Air Force."

Chief Master Sgt. Fred Graves, EHRI director, said he was honored to have the bench housed at the EHRI and that it will be well taken care of at the Heritage Hall.

"The bench is now in a place of honor at the Heritage Hall," he said. "We look forward to displaying it to the thousands of visitors that come through here. The beautiful bench will serve as a reminder of the great men and their sacrifices to their country."

Graves also said it is significant to those who serve today.

"Although it is beautiful, it is more than just a bench," he said. "It is an important reminder for all of us that serve, that our core values are not just a saying but words that must guide our actions every day."

The C-7A Caribou was used in Vietnam to resupply fighting forces because the design of the aircraft allowed pilots to fly in and out of camps on short, unimproved airstrips. The C-7A could accommodate up to 32 passengers, 26 fully equipped paratroops, 20 liter patients or an 8,740-pound cargo load.