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March 29, 2024

For Vietnam War Veterans Day, King Interviews National Guard Helicopter Pilot

Interview will be contributed to the Veterans History Project, a Library of Congress project to preserve the stories of American veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On this Vietnam War Veterans Day, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-ME), a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs (SVAC) and Armed Services Committees (SASC), released his latest episode of “Answering the Call: Maine’s Veteran Voices.” In the 13th interview of the series, produced in partnership with the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project, Senator King sat down with Ed Stanhope, an Auburn native, who served as an Army helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War and went on to spend nearly four decades in the Maine National Guard. During the interview, King asked Stanhope about his Vietnam War experiences and how Togus and local chapters of the VA and the American Legion support Maine’s veterans.

“Ed’s story captures the bravery and selflessness embodied by so many of our veterans,” said Senator King. “From growing up on a farm in Lisbon to flying helicopters in Vietnam, Ed shows us how a small town, look-out-for-your-neighbor mentality guided him through his time in the service. In this Vietnam War Veterans Day special of ‘Answering the Call: Maine’s Veteran Voices,’ I am proud to share Ed’s story of dedication to his country and to the state of Maine.”

Ed Stanhope grew up in Lisbon, Maine with his parents and two siblings. Ed describes his time growing up in a “one horse family” as “blessed.” After graduating high school, he received his appointment to fly helicopters for the Army. Ed completed basic training in Fort Polk, Louisiana and went on to flight school in Fort Rucker (now Fort Novosel), Texas.

After training, Ed was deployed to Vietnam for his first tour in 1967 where he piloted Huey helicopters. Ed describes being lucky to have served with older men in his unit, who passed on valuable lessons such as “don't take unnecessary chances, there are plenty of necessary chances in this business.”

Ed returned to Vietnam for his second tour flying the much larger Chinook helicopter and transporting artillery and ammunition pallets. He also acted as what he describes as “a helicopter ambulance,” recovering damaged helicopters to be repaired or salvaged for parts.

After his second tour, Ed transitioned out of active service and returned to Maine. Taking advantage of the GI bill, Ed studied criminal justice at the University of Maine at Orono. He also began flying helicopters for the Maine National Guard in 1970, where he operated a medevac unit for events such as the World Cup Ski Race at Sugarloaf in 1971. Ed continued flying for the National Guard for nearly 40 years.

Ed and his late wife Janet dedicated much of their time to giving back to veterans in Maine. Janet spent many years volunteering for the Red Cross, coordinating with chapters throughout New England to expand their efforts to support veterans. Ed has a rich history of involvement in the Auburn and Augusta chapters of the American Legion, including establishing the air rifle range in the Augusta Legion Hall, where local youth learn responsible gun safety from veteran volunteers and families compete in sporting events. Today, Ed continues to be engaged with the air rifle program, creating positive experiences for Maine veterans and youth alike.

The Veterans History Project is an effort by the Library of Congress to collect, preserve and distribute the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. The interviews and primary documents from the project are then used by researchers, historians, students, and filmmakers across the country. Senator King joins many other members of Congress who’ve participated in the project.

Representing one of the states with the highest rates of veterans per capita, Senator King is a staunch advocate for America’s servicemembers and veterans. Senator King uses this interview series to learn and share the stories of the lives, service, and sacrifices of Maine’s veteran community. He has been among the Senate’s most prominent voices on the need to address veterans suicide, and has repeatedly pressed for action from top Department of Defense officials on this issue. An advocate for amplifying veteran voices, Senator King held a field hearing focusing on long-term care in Maine. Additionally, he recently led a bipartisan letter calling for more support for victims of military sexual trauma.


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