Anne Eller of Greenwood affiliate WLMA contributed to this report
A Greenwood man was honored at the nation’s capitol this week for his service in the Vietnam War.
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Chuck Drake flew supplies and troops into the jungles of Southeast Asia as a member of the 173rd Assault Helicopter Company, also known as the “Robin Hoods.” He later moved to South Carolina and ran a financial services company after retiring from the military in the 1970s.
On Wednesday, he was recognized by Congressman Jeff Duncan in a special ceremony. Duncan presented Drake with an American flag that Congress had flown over the U.S. Capitol Building in his honor.
Drake was in Washington as a special guest to tour a new display at the Smithsonian Museum. The exhibit includes a UH-1 “Huey” helicopter flown by his former squadron. Drake said did not know if had piloted that particular helicopter, since pilots were not assigned to individual aircraft and flew whenever needed.
After being honored, Drake couldn’t put his feelings into words.
I can’t tell you how it really feels. One of my daughters came up and said, “It’s wonderful, Dad. You didn’t have to die to get this.”
The 81-year-old Army veteran said he was overwhelmed.
It was just great. Two congressmen here, I just don’t know how to express it. I had no idea what was going to be presented to me. I kept asking my wife and I kept asking my daughters, “Are y’all playing a trick on me?”
Drake served in the Army for 23 years after he enlisted in 1952. He flew with two different helicopter squadrons in Vietnam and was eventually awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and a Bronze Star.