The attack helicopter at the Footville American Legion hasn’t looked so good in a while.
The 1968 AH-1 Cobra at the Devins-Teehan-McGuire Post #237 is sporting a new paint job.
Although the Vietnam-era warbird has been a popular and beloved tribute to military personnel in Footville since its arrival in October 2002, its paint had lost its luster. It took a crew of post volunteers two months to carefully hand-paint the helicopter in two coats, said former commander and Vietnam-era veteran Steve Sarow and former commander and Vietnam-era veteran Dennis Curry.
“Service Officer John McGuire acquired the paint to use, and Commander John Harnack helped spearhead the initiative along with the crew,” Sarow said. “Helicopter specialties president and owner Jim Freeman helped select the correct paint color.”
This summer the paint crew will return to stencil numbers on the historic aircraft, Sarow said. The Cobra is illuminated from dusk until dawn at 406 Old Highway 11.
“It represents the power of our military to protect our country,” Sarow said.
The Cobra always has occupied a special place in the hearts of those at the post. Members had been dreaming for years of a proper tribute to military personnel before Sarow along with former Adjutant Marc Johnson pioneered a joint effort to bring it to Footville.
The warbird arrived in 2002 after paperwork was given an extra push through bureaucracy by then-U.S Rep. Paul Ryan.
Sarow and Curry recalled it being a momentous day when the Cobra arrived at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport. Richard Woodstock Trucking and A&H Trucking hauled the Cobra to its home at the Legion with a Rock County Sheriff’s Office escort. T&K Helgeson Crane Service workers lifted the pieces out of the trucks.
Former Commander Ron Kimball had worked on Cobras in Vietnam and gave his expertise to erecting the tribute.
The Cobra is a two-seat, twin-engine attack helicopter capable of land- and sea-based operations, flying at speeds higher than 200 mph.
“There’s honor in seeing military equipment taken care of to protect our country,” Sarow said. “Our military is one of the best in the world, and I feel that if we continue to maintain our military presence in the world, it’s a safer place.”