Over two years ago, a search began for a United States Army helicopter to be included as a display piece at the Veterans Memorial Park of Jackson County (VMPJC). Through the tireless assistance of Mr. John Hamilton, a former resident of Scottsboro and Army helicopter pilot, a 1971 F model AH-1 Army Cobra helicopter was located in Maryland and delivered to the VMPJC one year ago, and as it turns out, it was the exact same helicopter he flew. Not just the same model but the actual helicopter that he was assigned to fly.
Hamilton stated, “I am honored to be a small part of the Veterans Memorial Park of Jackson County that so many have poured their hearts into. Fate may have provided an aircraft for restoration with my name on it, but as far as I’m concerned, that name doesn’t represent me; it represents my dad, WWII Infantryman Rayford Hamilton, and all the other veterans we seek to honor here at the park.”
Since the time of the Cobra’s arrival in Scottsboro, about a dozen volunteers from the VFW Post 6073, American Legion Post 30 and members of the community have donated hundreds of hours of elbow grease, sweat, determination and hard, dirty work to restore the damage almost 50 years of service had inflicted.
As the restoration work edged toward completion, the search for someone to paint the Cobra intensified. During the week of September 7, company owner Mr. David Williamson and his professional restoration painter, Mr. Daniel Crabb, completed the restoration painting. Mr. Williamson also made a generous donation toward the cost of paint, equipment and services toward the project. By the close of business Saturday, 12 September, Jackson County’s Cobra had been transformed from a beat-up war machine to a beautiful display piece.
Work is underway on the foundation and 10’ high structural steel support post for the Cobra. The rotors and gunship equipment will also be installed, and the Cobra will be mounted for display in October.
The Cobra success story is a perfect example of the kind of volunteerism and donations that enabled the Veterans Memorial Park of Jackson County to go from nothing to almost complete in only six years. Although the park may look complete, donations are still needed to complete the remaining work that will cost about $40,000.
The park dedication is planned for November 14, 2020, the Saturday after Veterans Day. Donors are asked to contact Mr. Jim Olyniec at 256.599.3457.