By John BurtonWALL – For the veterans who are working to restore a Vietnam–era combat helicopter, the experience is bringing back strong emotions and memories.Carl Burns, veteran helicopter pilot and volunteer on the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation’s Huey project, holds the tail section cover, signed by all the volunteers, that will be part of the Huey when it is installed next May at thefoundation’s Vietnam Era Museum and Educational Center in Holmdel.“You’re talking about a pretty intense part of my life,” said Ken Gurbisz, a former U.S. Army warrant officer who flew a similar helicopter in-country more than 40 years ago.Gurbisz was on hand Monday in a hangar with about 15 other veterans at Monmouth Executive Airport, Highway 34.The veterans, mostly from the Vietnam War – two served in Afghanistan – are working to restore a 1964 Bell UH-1D Iroquois helicopter, which is usually referred to as a “Huey.”They have been working since winter to put back into reasonable shape the helicopter that for them – and probably countless others – holds emotional significance.The type of helicopter is “not only a physical symbol of the Vietnam War,” said volunteer Carl Burns, but it is also “an emotional symbol.“The sights and the smells” of the craft have brought back all sorts of thoughts and feelings for those working on it, acknowledged Burns, a Manalapan resident who flew one as an Army captain in 1966-67.The volunteers “all had tears in our eyes,” when they first saw it, even though it was nothing but a hollowed shell at the time, Gurbisz said.A large group of Army veterans are volunteering their time to restore a deactivated Hueyhelicopter that served two tours in Vietnam. Sarah Hagarty (front) is the program director for the memorial foundation.In January, the New Jersey National Guard offered the helicopter to the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation for its permanent display at the foundation’s Vietnam Era Museum and Educational Center, located on the grounds of PNC Arts Center, Holmdel.The craft, which served two tours of duty in Vietnam, first from October 1966 through September 1967 when it was assigned to the 116th Assault Helicopter Company and then from November 1968 to February 1970 with the 25th Infantry Division. While with the 25th, it was located at Cu Chi, which was 30 miles northwest of Saigon, said Burns, who also served in that area with the 25th during his tour.The helicopter was seriously deteriorated.“You have to remember it sat in a field for 20 years,” at Fort Dix, Gurbisz said. “We had many bird’s nests and hornet’s nests to get rid of.”The volunteers all have connections to this style of aircraft. That “has been great, because they know how to work on them or know how to fly them,” said Sarah Hagarty, program director for the memorial foundation.So far the group, which meets every week at the airport hangar to work on the project, has spent a collective 1,500 hours to restore it, Hagarty said.Volunteers restoring a 1964 Bell UH-1D Iroquois helicopter, commonly known as a Huey, clean it in a hangar at Monmouth Executive Airport.The project began with removing the Desert Storm-era tan camouflage, to restore it to its original olive drab exterior. “That was a lot of sanding,” Gurbisz said. Afterward, the work has been cleaning and refurbishing to make the interior presentable for what will be an authentic, fixed display for visitors, especially for the school-age children, who visit the memorial and museum.The group has been collecting spare parts from wherever it can get them, Hagarty and Gurbisz said.It looks as though there will be enough parts to sufficiently restore the craft’s cockpit to allow visitors to sit in it. The volunteers hope to be able to raise enough money to restore it and have it ready for an unveiling on May 7, 2014, which is the state Vietnam Veterans Remembrance Day. The group also hopes to also be able to afford to install a simulator in the cockpit to give visitors a realistic appreciation of what it was like to fly in such an aircraft.“It’s a pretty tall order,” Hagarty said about the work that needs to be done.While the project has received some support with organizations and individuals contributing funds and parts, the overall project will cost between $150,000-$200,000, according to Hagarty.This week the museum is beginning its KickStarter campaign to assist in fundraising efforts for the project’s completion.For these guys – the group of volunteers is all male – this is an important project in terms of the nation’s history and their own.“When I first saw this, it was a ton of flashbacks,” Gurbisz said. “I was one of those 20-year-old warrant officers” assigned to Vietnam’s Central Highlands region, flying Hueys on rescue and recovery missions.Burns, who authored the memoir Centaurs in Vietnam: Untold Stories of the First Year, remembered how he was flying a Huey during his tour of Vietnam when he, his crew and the craft started taking on enemy fire.“They were in their spider holes firing – ping, ping, ping,” went the shots as it hit the helicopter shell, Burns said, noting his crew was operating the helicopter’s machine guns, strafing the area. Enemy fire then caught the tail rudder and the craft began twisting, eventually crashing in a rice paddy. Thankfully, he and the four-member crew all survived, he said.There were about 3,000 of these helicopters at any given time operating in Vietnam, playing a vital role in that conflict, Gurbisz said. There were a total of roughly 14,000 in use over the course of the war of which about 6,000 didn’t make it out, Burns said.“I left one there,” he said.Young visitors to the museum will “get a sense of the war,” and its significance from the site’s multimedia presentations and existing displays. “But, they don’t really understand the role of the helicopter, the magnitude of it,” Gurbisz. “It brought guys in. It carried them out. It brought supplies” and transported the wounded during its active combat role, Burns said. “It brought them beer,” he said with a slight smile.“It was part of you,” for that time in their lives, Burns said.For more information about the project, visit www.njvvmf.org.
The machines will accept payment by coins, credit and debit cards, a mobile app and near-field communication through mobile devices, part of a long overdue upgrade to replace about 445 meters that are half a century old, officials said. These meters have been used in other parts of the state and the country, he said, and the technology represents a “very visible change.” RED BANK – The days of searching for quarters or having to make change on the fly to pay for on-street parking in Red Bank are about to end when new “smart” parking meters debut in the borough next year. “I mean it’s almost like first-generation meter technology,” borough administrator Ziad A. Shehady said of what is on the streets now. “The meters are all very old.” The meters, made by Mackay Meters, also will have solar panels to charge the batteries that operate the machines. The panel sits at the top of the meter. “The batteries inside of it are fully charged all the time,” Shehady said. Among other features, the new meters will be able to communicate to officials when the machines are broken. Also, the borough can electronically put messages on the meters, such as free holiday parking. “I think it’s long overdue for our parking system,” said Erik Yngstrom, council president and also chairman of the governing body’s parking committee. “It’s very antiquated just to have coin-operated machines. It’s hard on our employees to collect. And it’s hard on our customers that are coming into Red Bank for these businesses to put coins into the meters for street parking.” Toward the end of November, the borough council will introduce a bond ordinance to pay for the hardware and other parking-related work. The new equipment is estimated to cost around $225,000. In all, the borough is looking to acquire about 57 single-space meters and 194 dual-space meters, or meters that can handle two parking spots at once, he said. The dual-space meter will let users to indicate what space they are using, left or right, and pay accordingly. One borough official said he thought installing smart meters was something Red Bank needed to do to help residents and downtown businesses. The borough will install the smart meters in late winter or early spring of next year, Shehady said. As for parking rates, Yngstrom said they will stay the same for the “foreseeable future.” The current cost for street meters is $1.50 per hour. By Philip Sean Curran The MKBeacon Meter is a wireless smart meter that can accept coins, credit cards, non-PIN debit cards, smart cards, contactless credit cards and mobile payments. It uses solar power.Photo by Philip Sean Curran A parking study, done for the borough and RiverCenter, the nonprofit that runs the downtown Special Improvement District, called for having new meters in town. The 81-page report, released in January, suggested that step among others, including hiring a full-time parking czar responsible for making all parking decisions in the borough. According to RiverCenter executive director James Scavone, the smart meters will be more convenient for customers and give the borough “a lot of information so that we can better manage the parking.” “So I do think that our customers and people who visit Red Bank will appreciate the new meters,” he said. Shehady echoed the sentiment about the meters providing more information. “Because it’s a smart meter, it’s going to give us data to make better informed decisions from a parking utility perspective, both in terms of rates, in terms of hours, in terms of turnover, in terms of inventory, demand, all of this,” he said. “Anything that affects the parking utility’s operations is going to be better informed by a meter like this.” “The meter is a new meter, it’s not your traditional-looking meter,” he said. “As with anything, there’s a learning curve with change.”
…214 persons called helplineAlthough the Guyana Inter-Agency Suicide Prevention Helpline continues to play a critical role in tackling the societal scourge of suicide, there have been 17 attempts from the month of June to date. This is according to Police Commissioner Leslie James. Delivering the feature address at the Force’s annual Christmas Awards ceremony on Wednesday at Eve Leary, the Top Cop noted that thus far, the suicide helpline recorded 214 interactions with persons who were prone to committing the act.He revealed that from June 2018 to date, there were a total of 59 interventions. This included 17 suicide attempts, 16 persons who thought of committing suicide, 14 expressing frustration, and 12 persons who were depressed.The Inter-Agency Suicide Prevention Helpline was launched back in August 2015 to aid in the fight against the societal scourge after it was recognised that suicide rates in Guyana are as significant to that of serious crimes, hence the same urgency and attention was needed to help persons who may feel the need to harm themselves.During a meeting in October led by the Top Cop, the European Union (EU) funded Inter-Agency Suicide Helpline came in for high praises for its professionalism and diligent work, especially when responding to clients. The meeting followed a successful 20-month collaboration between the Guyana Police Force’s (GPF) Inter-agency Suicide Helpline and Youth Challenge Guyana.It was outlined that the Force manages and maintains the 24-hour suicide prevention hotline and Youth Challenge Guyana, through the EU-funded initiative and provides face-to-face counselling and follow-up for the persons referred by the hotline.According to reports, suicide is said to be the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds globally, and in 2017, Guyana had a suicide rate of 29.9 deaths per 100,000 persons.The Pan American Health Organisation’s (PAHO) 2017 Adolescent and Youth Health Report stated that suicide is a leading cause of death amongst persons within the age range of 15 to 24 years, which accounts for more than half of the deaths in persons between 20 and 24.Only in August, a 22-year-old male nursing student, Heathecliffe Allistare Bobbsemple, of Amelia’s Ward, Linden, ended his life by consuming a quantity of carbon tablets. He reportedly suffered from mental illness and was treated at the Georgetown Public Hospital.Days prior to the incident, he was reportedly seen acting in an abnormal manner. His mother, Tracy Bobbsemple had told this publication that the now dead man was wrongfully implicated in a robbery in July and was placed in the lockups but the matter was later dropped after no evidence was found against him. However shortly after, the young man was rearrested and charged for robbery.The World Health Organisation (WHO) on its website said that between 2010 and 2012, Guyana had recorded 667 reported suicide attempts. It recognised, however, that the Guyana Government has since launched the National Mental Health Action Plan for 2015–2020 and a national suicide prevention plan.However, these initiatives are said to be bearing fruit since it has been reported that the country’s suicide rate had reduced from 44.2 per cent per 100,000 people in 2012 to 24.6 per cent per 100,000 persons in recent years.