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Hometown Hero: Gerald Bodway returns to EAA Airventure year after year

Hometown Heroes

Oshkosh, Wis. (WFRV) – Gerald Bodway has a special connection to EAA Airventure in Oshkosh. An Appleton Native, he piloted Huey helicopters out of Tuy Hoa Air Base for the Army in Vietnam.

“That was where the action was. I had a few friends who were going the same (pilot) direction and it was much better than being on the ground to be practical about it,” Bodway said.

Bodway piloted C-Model Huey Helicopters while in Vietnam and he estimates he had close to 1200 hours in the air.

“When you’re young and you go into this, you think it’s quite a noble profession and you’re doing it literally for God and country, for most of the people that were in it and I would say for the lion share of the people that are out here that would be true,” recalled Bodway. “As time goes on though, you realize that all of those people you’re shooting at are people, so you mature quickly,” he said.

Bodway grew up fast during his time in Vietnam, and while he may have lost some of his youth- he didn’t lose his love for aviation.

After some years teaching students with a flight training unit in Texas, Bodway found his way to EAA. 

“The EAA is a great second home for people in war,” Bodway said. “The pilots understand each other’s emotions and so forth so, it’s a great feeling of family basically at EAA that you get to come and get away from whatever else you’re doing and join in with people that you really understand and get along with, and they really understand and get along with you,” he said.

EAA has been Bodways second home now for 26 years; He returns to Oshkosh every year to direct traffic flow on the runways in the WarBirds section.

And he doesn’t plan to stop any time soon.

“It takes everybody out here at the EAA to make it work. There’s no single person who’s more important than another. Yeah, I’ll probably keep (coming back). Like I said, it’s all about the people,” said Bodway.

Have someone you’d like to nominate for Hometown Hero? Let us know below!

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