Don Sholett, a former crew chief of the UH-
Casper aviation platoon Casper Platoon Story
War Memorial Effort Gets Personal Touch From A Casper Veteran
This site was last updated: 2/15/15
Reprinted from: The Muskegon Chronicle -
By: Robert Burns, Chronicle Staff Writer
"God's" Little Helper" they called it. On its nose, next to the name, was painted the image of Casper the Friendly Ghost -
Few have known it as anything more than another Army "Huey" helicopter from the Vietnam War, and that it is destined to sit high atop the "Final Approach" war memorial planned for Hidden Cove Park in Norton Shores.
It meant something more to Don Sholett, of Sackets Harbor, N.Y.
Sholett was one of the bird's last crew chiefs in Vietnam and one of the "Caspers," the scout for the 173d Airborne Brigade. The Casper's main mission was to fly troops to areas of suspected activity -
Sholett flew only twice on this particular helicopter, which spent three years in Vietnam as a replacement for one that was shot down and crashed, said Glen Sheatham, unofficial historian for Muskegon-
Sholett is now undergoing periodic treatment for post-
How Sholett and his old bird were reunited is a story in itself.
Lupe Alviar Jr., one of the Muskegon-
They put a notice in the 173d Airborne newsletter. Boiled down, said Alviar, its message was: Hey, Caspers, we've got one of your birds."
Sholett responded, and the local vets offered to fly him and his wife, Debra, to Muskegon for this year's Muskegon Air Fair. And there, as it stood on display, Sholett repainted the name and the picture of Casper on the bird's nose -
"There were a lot of feelings stirred up," he said. "It's like I was right back in my old platoon," that's what (post-
"But it was a very good feeling. It's like I needed something from my old unit to prove that I was home."
Following that high point, Alviar and the other members of the local Vietnam vets group have gone back to the job that has engaged them for months: raising the more than $198,000 it will cost to make the Muskegon County Vietnam Veterans Memorial a reality.
So far, according to Alviar, the group has raised $80,000 towards that goal, all but $20,000 of it pledged as materials or services. All told, 32 Muskegon-
Alviar said the group had hoped to have the memorial completed by Veterans Day this November, but now have their sights on next spring (1996).
Footnote: The "Huey" was finally lowered onto the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Hidden Cove Park in North in September 1997.