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Beloit Daily News July 06, 2005

Vietnam-era warbird displayed in village

By Hillary Wundrow

FOOTVILLE - It can halt the enemy in its tracks and can cut through telephone poles like a knife.

That's how Steve Sarow, second vice commander at the Footville American Legion, describes the 1968 AH-1 Cobra Helicopter sitting in the Legion hall lawn.

The two-seat, twin-engine attack helicopter capable of land and sea-based operations, was used extensively in Vietnam in the early sixties.

After three years sitting in the Legion's backyard, Footville's American Legion Post 237 has added the finishing touches to the Vietnam era war craft.

After the donations finished trickling in, the Legion put down a layer of concrete and planted grass seeds to properly frame the historic aircraft.

Tuesday afternoon the Cobra sat in a roped off area surrounded by cement and landscaping off of old Highway 11.

At dusk, an automatic light attached to the Legion Hall, was scheduled to click on and illuminate the helicopter.

"It is now open for the public to view 24/7," Sarow said.

Sarow and Adjutant Marc Johnson pioneered a joint effort to bring the helicopter to Footville more than five years ago.

After filling out extensive paperwork and working with Congressman Paul Ryan's office, the Legion was able to bring the Cobra to its new home.

The helicopter arrived at the Rock County Airport in pieces before members of the Legion began assembling it in October of 2002.

Richard Woodstock Trucking Inc. along with A&H Trucking hauled the Cobra in and T&K Helgeson Crane Service workers lifted the pieces in and out of the trucks.

Johnson and Sarow put in at least 40 hours of work to obtain the Cobra, help assemble it and have it displayed.

Although there is a Cobra in Lake Geneva painted with a red mouth and teeth, Sarow said the Footville Legion wants to maintain the original look of the aircraft.

"We want it to look like it just landed," Sarow said.

During the past three years, however, the group has made the windows darker.

"We thought it would make it more lethal," Sarow said.

The Cobra, one of the most common aircraft in the Vietnam War, flew at speeds of ove 200 miles per hour.

At 45 feet long and 13 feet tall, it is still used in combat missions in Iraq.

"We are proud of what it did. It shows the kind of military equipment that protects this country," Sarow said.

The Cobra went on to fight in every major U.S. military operation since Vietnam and continues its service with the U.S. Marines, as well as eight other foreign nations, according to www.globalsecurity.org.

"There's a lot of history in small towns," Sarow said.

Copyright 2005, Beloit Daily News