ST. JOSEPH — Mark Benjamin’s buddy was rearranging things in their barracks in Vietnam when a flight bag fell from the ceiling.
Inside the bag was a helmet and the outside of the bag was labled Youngstedt. Benjamin’s buddy tossed him the bag and said, “Give this to Youngstedt.”
Benjamin did – 48 years later.
Glenn Youngstedt was a Huey helicopter pilot in Vietnam in 1971 and served with Benjamin in the 128th infantry. The assault helicopter company was based near the village of Phuloi about 40 miles north of Saigon.
Youngstedt, of St. Joseph, hadn’t seen Benjamin, of Traverse City, since Benjamin left Vietnam.
Then the morning of Saturday, June 22, Youngstedt was manning a booth at the Lest We Forget event in St. Joseph.
“This guy walks up to me and says ‘I have something of yours. I’ve been carrying it around for 48 or 49 years.’ He hands me this bag. It has my name on it, and our company nickname, Tomahawks,” Youngstedt said.
There’s no question the bag was his, although the helmet inside is white and Youngstedt said his helmet was “olive drab green.”
“We don’t know how the white helmet got in this bag,” Youngstedt said.
Benjamin found Youngstedt through the Michigan Chapter of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, and read in an association email that he would be working at the Lest We Forget event.
Contact: jswidwa@TheHP.com, 932-0359, Twitter: @HPSwidwa