May, 2011

Dear 183rd Brothers,

I imagine many of you thought you would never receive another Seahorse newsletter.  I am embarrassed to say it has been eight months since Don Tyler and I were appointed in charge of putting one together, and I sincerely apologize for being so slow.  As we know, time and tide wait for no man, and I (we) have no excuse except to say I (we) procrastinated severely.  At last, however, we are able to forward the following information to you, and we hope you can forgive our tardiness. ... Ash Cutchin, SH 44, BMT, 1966 & Don Tyler, SH 21.

 To bring you up to date, let us begin with the 2010 Reunion which was held in Colorado Springsin September.  It was a wonderful event, probably outdoing all previous ones by a big margin (except for the Arlington Cemetery Memorial Service or maybe that cool Motorcycle Gang in Charleston, or the Missing Man Fly-by at Rucker).  Hell, they’ve all been great, and I’m sure the next one will be even better!  Anyway, for those of you who missed it, we descended upon Colorado SpringsSept. 9, 2010, and by the time the weekend got off to a rip-roaring start there were 113 of us (including guests).  We sincerely missed all of you who were unable to attend, but we had a wonderful time, even without you.  Our meals were fantastic; our social events were fun, exciting and nostalgic; our side trips were enjoyable (especially the memorial service at the Air Force Academy Chapel) our business meeting was professional; and oh, did I mention the meals?  If you have not already done so, I encourage you to visit the website 183seahorse.org where you can see our reunion schedule, as well as many other Seahorse items of interest. One of the highlights (among many) was our banquet where our fearless leaders for many years, John Fischer and his lovely bride, Natalie, were presented with awards for their tireless and dedicated service.  Fortunately for all of us, their family members were also there to participate in the awards ceremony.  The wording of the proclamation to John is shown below.


 Proclamation to Honor John C. Fischer

WHEREAS:  Captain John C. Fischer served as both an L19 “Birddog” pilot and supply officer for the 183rd Army Aviation Company (Seahorses) headquartered in Dong Ba Thin, Republic of Viet Nam in 1966;  and

WHEREAS: John C. Fischer was honorably discharged and embarked upon a successful career in the oil and natural gas industry; and

WHEREAS:  John C. Fischer was supported through both his military and civilian careers by his wife Natalie Sparrow Fischer, mother of their three children;  and

WHEREAS:  John C. Fischer who, with Colonel Mack Gibson, conceived the idea of reuniting brothers who served in the 183rd Army Aviation Company (Seahorses) in Viet Nam from 1966 to 1971;  and

WHEREAS:  John C. Fischer has served as President of The Veterans of the 183rd Aviation Company (Seahorses) from 2000 to 2010 faithfully developing, organizing, and executing the activities before, during and after five (5) successful reunions and ancillary support activities since 2000; and

 WHEREAS:  John C. Fischer has been continuously supported by participating Seahorse brothers and their wives and particularly his own spouse Natalie S. Fischer and fellow Seahorse James M. McHaney,

NOW THEREFORE, we, the members of the 183rd Army Aviation Company (Seahorses) do hereby recognize and commend John C. Fischer for his exemplary efforts to encourage camaraderie and to honor all brothers, past and present, of the 183rd and other Birddog Aviation Companies.

Unanimously approved, this 10th day of September, 2010.

James M. McHaney, incoming President, 183rd Army Aviation Company (Seahorses)


We also presented Natalie with a similar award, and to save space, it is not included in this newsletter. We can send you a copy if you would like to read it.  John was also given a commemorative saber.  At this point (and in preparation for assembling this newsletter) we asked John to share some personal words with us about his leadership and his passing the gavel.  Below is John’s message to all of us.

“At the 2010 reunion, after ten years and five major reunions, I have passed the baton to my good friend and partner in developing The Veterans of the 183rd Aviation Company (Seahorses), Jim McHaney, who is now our President.  I would like to thank all of my Seahorse Brothers for all of their interest, support and in many cases hard work to bring our organization to what it is today.  The past ten years have been very fulfilling in that I have been able to renew many old friendships, meet many new Seahorse friends and brothers, meet the families of my Seahorse friends, learn so much more about who we were and what we did, and have a great time doing it.  I could not have had a better way to spend the last ten years.  Thank you for allowing me to have so much enjoyment.

Jim McHaney has a very able staff of Seahorse Officers who will continue to make the organization grow; expand services and increase interest and participation.  Jim is fully committed to a number of veterans’ causes and has always carried the heavy end of the load when it came to the Seahorses.  Not only that, but he is a hellava good guy. 

If you have not come to a reunion or participated in any of our activities, do it now.  If you think that you have some interest or talent that will help Jim make us a better organization, call Jim and do what they always told you not to do…volunteer.  The folks who have worked the hardest will all tell you that they have had the best time.  Please give Jim your fullest support.”

Thank you, John, for your kind words to all of us and for your devoted service to your brothers.  We should remind all Seahorses that a third proclamation was presented which establishes a fund in the name of the Fischers.  It reads:


Proclamation to Establish The John C. and Natalie S. Fischer Fund

WHEREAS:  John C. and Natalie S. Fischer have helped to establish, guide and nurture The Veterans of the 183rd Aviation Company (Seahorses) organization from 2000 to 2010; and

WHEREAS:  John C. and Natalie S. Fischer, with assistance and support from other brothers and ladies affiliated with The Veterans of the 183rd Aviation Company (Seahorses), have identified, located, contacted, invited and included all individuals who served in a Viet Nam era Birddog unit; and

WHEREAS:  John C. and Natalie S. Fischer have welcomed to all bi-annual reunions veterans, wives, friends and family of all Viet Nam era Birddog units; and

WHEREAS:  Veterans of Birddog Units including:  183rd Seahorses, 74th Aloft, 184th NonStop, 185th Pterodactyls, 199th Swamp Fox, 203rd Hawkeyes, 219th Headhunters, 220th Cat Killers, and 221st ShotGuns have generously provided assistance, financial and otherwise, to fellow brothers to ensure participation at reunions during the past decade; and

WHEREAS:  in the spirit of John C. and Natalie S. Fischer, the Birddog Aviation Company brotherhood would like to provide assistance so that brothers or their survivors can attend reunions or receive gestures of “brotherly support,”

 NOW THEREFORE, we, the Veterans of the 183rd Army Aviation Company (Seahorses), in concurrence with our Ladies, do hereby establish the John C. and Natalie S. Fischer Fund to encourage tax deductible contributions to ensure participation, recognition, and commemoration of all who served in a Reconnaissance Aircraft Company (RAC) during the Viet Nam Era.

Unanimously approved, this 10th day of September, 2010.

James M. McHaney, incoming President:  183rd Army Aviation Company (Seahorses)


We think it is appropriate to share a few words from our new president, our old friend, Jim McHaney.

“I wish to thank all my Seahorse brothers for electing me as the unit President and Jerry Lemons as Executive Vice President of the 183rd Aviation Company.   We have an elected steering committee that consists of a well rounded group of veterans whose experience and enthusiasm will make the 183rd Aviation Company a dynamic organization:  They include, David Neff, Hiram Johnston, Elwood Bengry, Mark Mitchell, Ash Cutchin, Don Tyler, Jim Benoit, Dick Kloppenburg, David Haidle, andBob Howland. Thank you Gentlemen!

 I served with 183rd as a Radio Teletype Operator in 1970. During that time I observed the camaraderie of the unit from officers down to the enlisted men. It was a pleasure, honor and moving experience to serve with so many fine men.  In the late 90’s I began looking for a friend that I only knew by his nick name, “Shortround”.  I posted on many military WEB sites and finally made contact with a member of the 183rd by the name of Jim Penzin.  He encouraged me to create a WEB site for the unit.  Well, here we are now with over 250 vets found!

Aside from bringing our brothers together to renew old friendships, providing support for each other and just having a good time, I would like to document the history and stories of the unit. This will continue the legacy of the men who served with the unit and eventually be passed on to an Aviation museum so that our grandchildren can learn what grandpa did in the Vietnam War.  To do this we need you to tell your stories, share your pictures and volunteer for events that continue our legacy.

Our organization was classified as a 501 (c) (19), EIN #83-0507505 in 2010, with an effective date of exemption of March 11, 2008. This classification will allow Veterans of the 183rd to deduct certain expenses in their tax returns for activities associated with our unit (please contact your tax advisor on the specifics of these deductions).  I look forward to hearing your suggestions and working with you.”

 Thank you Jim for agreeing to be our new leader.  We are all confident that you will do a super job.  For your information, the contact data for the new seahorse workhorses are shown below:


Contact information for the Steering Committee of the 183rd Aviation Company

President:           Jim McHaney,  1020 S. 124th Street, Chandler, AZ 85286  Ph. 480-510-2745:                      seahorse183rd@cox.net

Vice President:                 Gerald Lemons, 916 E. Bear Creek Rd., Glen Heights, TX 75154   Ph. 972-223-5479:                              Gerald.lemons@yahoo.com

Treasurer:           David Neff, 767 East 1250 Rd., Lawrence, KS 66046   Ph. 785-843-8966:                                     dbneff@gmail.com

Secretary:           Hiram Johnston, 1321 Beaver Dam Rd., Madison, GA 30650   Ph. 706-342-9136:                                                    Babs_hiram@bellsouth.net

Quartermaster:                Elwood Bengry, 7304 Country Road S., Sobieske, WI 54171   Ph. 715-891-0333:                                  ebengry@netnet.net

Unit Historian:                  Markus Mitchell, 4611 Park Ridge Dr., Benton, LA 71006  Ph. 318-965-4130:       mm98gmc@bellsouth.net

Editors/publishers:         Ash Cutchin, 29018 Darden Point Rd., Courtland, VA 23837    Ph.757-562-6559:  ashappraz@charter.net                                                             

 Don Tyler, 1086 N. Old Franklin Rd., Nashville, NC27856   Ph. 252-478-3546:                                                                                 seahorse21@Live.com

Membership/Registration:         Jim Benoit, 219 Cardinal Ln., Delray Beach, FL 33445  Ph. 508-221-0091:   jimbenoit@comcast.net

Military Affairs:         Dick Kloppenburg, 805- 84th Ave. S.E., Mercer Island, WA 98040  Ph. 425-747-5263:                     Richard@kloppenburg.net

 Unit Chaplin:        David Haidle, 432 W. Pierce Street, Elburn, IL 60119  Ph. 630-365-2124:                                                   David.G.Haidle@wheaton.edu

 Web Management:        Jim McHaney,  1020 S. 124th Street, Chandler, AZ 85286  Ph. 480-510-2745:                                             seahorse183rd@cox.net 

Bob Howland, 5691 Hillsdale Street, Ft. Lawn, SC  29714  Ph. 803-872-4381:                                                                                          bhowland@componium.net


Please contact the appropriate seahorses if you have anything to communicate, especially stories to share or the names of newly located brothers.  You will notice that Mark Mitchell is our new historian.  Also notice that Dave Haidle continues to serve as our chaplain.  He gave an inspiring talk during the memorial service at the Air Force Academy Chapel.  Without intending to hurt anyone else’s feelings for NOT including their photo, we are inserting a photo Ash took of Dave during his talk.  A very all-inclusive group of photos from the reunion is available on CD, and may soon be added to the website.  Thank you, Dave, for reminding us of the ultimate sacrifices some of our brothers made, and of the continuing sacrifices made by all who serve.  You are truly an inspiration to all of us.  And you look spiffy in coat and tie.

 One other reunion note:          We began a new tradition.  We have a very expensive bottle of cognac that will be sealed in a wooden box on Memorial Day 2011.  The bottle will travel to all of the future reunions.  When we only have one Seahorse left at the reunion, he will have the pleasure of opening the box and enjoying the cognac.  At the reunion we asked anyone who wanted to send a note to the last surviving Seahorse to write it on a small piece of paper.  We have about thirty notes from the reunion.  Anyone who did not go to the reunion or did not put their note in the box may still get his note in before it’s sealed by sending their note to John Fischer and it will be included in the box as long as it is received by Memorial Day 2011.  And good luck to all of you in the race to see who will be the last surviving Seahorse.


 We are saddened to report that shortly after theColorado Springs reunion we lost our dear friend and brother Dave Woods, one of the original Seahorses fromFt.Hood and one of the Boat People.  Dave and Ash shared many fun times together atFt.Hood,Las Vegas, and later, after the war was over and we both traveled the world.  Dave gave me my first haircut at Dong Ba Thin.  He put forth a tremendous extra effort to be with us in September, and he agreed to stand beside me in our group photo (second from right, top row).  I was honored.  In fact, I am sorry to inform you that our web site indicates that we have lost six Seahorses since our reunion.  We were planning to include the updated Honor Roll in the newsletter, but it is available on the web site.  Please review it.


 Newest Additions:  Either died or we learned about them since the 2010Reunion

COLJerry Bussell,                           October 8, 2010

CPT David Woods,                           November 9, 2010

SSG Neil Quatkemeyer,                  October 31, 2010

SP5 John P. Jones,                          December 2, 2010

SFC Glenwood Taylor                      February, 2010

Maj. Ralph Godwin,                          April 2011             C O of 183rd  13 November 1966 – 18 June 1967


A couple more items of interest.  Our by-laws make up a four-page document, and we see no reason to include them here.  We should encourage our webmaster to include them on the web site.  The minutes of the 2010 business meeting are shown below, edited slightly to avoid repetition.

Minutes, September 11, 2010     … The Veterans of the 183rd Aviation Company

The business meeting was called to order at 8:20am.  The minutes from the 2008Reunionwere approved.  There were questions concerning IRS deductions under the 501 c 19.  John Fischer said that the IRS pamphlet would be made available; however, it would best to check with your CPA concerning deductions.

The treasurer’s report was approved.  John shared that the treasury was healthy and that overall the organization was in good shape.  He noted that the organization had a good mix of enlisted, NCOs, warrant officers and officers.  Barbara Neff reported a total of 67 veterans were registered and a total of 113 including spouses and guests have attended thisReunion.

Mack Gibson, chairman of the nomination committee reported that committee recommended the following 11 positions:

President:  Jim McHaney    Vice President: Jerry Lemons    Treasurer: Dave Neff    Secretary: Hiram Johnston              Quartermaster:  Elwood Bendry    Historian: Mark Mitchell    Editor/Publisher:  Ash Cutchin, Don Tyler    Membership: Jim Benoit      Military Affairs: Dick Kloppenberg      Chaplin:  David Hailde,    Web Management:  Jim McHaney,Bob Howland                 Ex-Officio Past President: John Fischer

A motion was made and seconded to approve the slate of officers as submitted.  The motion was approved.  The meeting was closed and reopened by the new president:  Jim McHaney.  Jim reported that Ash Cutchin and Don Tyler will publish a news letter twice a year.  It was emphasized that we need to keep our contact information up to date.  He also said that he wanted to make the website more dynamic.  Under new business, a motion to approve the new Bylaws was made and seconded.  A discussion followed concerning the wording in the section on membership.  John Fischer agreed to work on rewording this section to make it clear.  The motion was approved.

The next new business item concerned the possible sites for the 2012Reunion.  The following sites were nominated: New Orleans,Philadelphia, Dallas/Fort Worth,Pensacola,FortRucker, Corpus Christie,St. Louis,Savannah, andNashville.   A vote was taken the top four sites were:New Orleans, Dallas/Ft. Worth,Pensacola, andNashville.  Volunteers for the various sites included:  Nashville-John Fischer, Dallas/Ft. Worth-Jerry Lemons, Pensacola-Dale Kiel, and New Orleans- Mark Mitchell, Paul Matherne.

A motion was made to close the meeting.  The motion was seconded.

The meeting was closed at 9:30am.