ROTC helicopter landing honors 9/11




In honor of the 18th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, the UNI Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) hosted an open house and 9/11 remembrance from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Lawther Field on Wednesday. The event included a helicopter landing at 7:15 a.m., as well as photo opportunities with military vehicles and a squad car.

Viewers were able to climb in the helicopter, which, according to pilot Erin Boyd, was a medivac equipped Black Hawk helicopter.

“In the event someone gets injured on the ground overseas in Afghanistan or Iraq, we get called and we come pick them up and take them to the hospital,” she said.

Boyd graduated from UNI in 2013 as an ROTC cadet and earth science major. She is one of two pilots on her crew. Two of her fellow crew members, present at the open house, were also UNI graduates. Chris Rew and Josh Mixdorf graduated with degrees in biology in 2008 and 2012 respectively, and both are currently pursuing masters’ degrees in biology at UNI.

Rew, Mixdorf, and Boyd were joined by several other ROTC cadets, who staffed the helicopter in shifts between classes, answering questions and offering tours to passersby.

“It’s a static display as a 9/11 memorial, and it’s also a great display for recruiting purposes,” said Boyd. “People walking around on campus see a helicopter and they want to come check it out, which might spark some interest in them either joining the guard or going to flight school.”

The event also included a visit from local police, who worked with ROTC to bring the helicopter to campus.

“One of the reasons we did that was kind of to show the police as more than just the people who pull you over,” said Mixdorf. “We wanted to show a face on campus. The police worked with us a lot to be able to get this [helicopter] to come.”

In spite of steady rain throughout the morning, several UNI students stopped to view the helicopter and ask questions. As the day progressed and skies cleared, more students arrived to tour the aircraft.

Community members were also present throughout the day, including Kate Flather and her 2-year-old son Quinn, of Cedar Falls.

Quinn enjoyed sitting in the helicopter’s cockpit, said Flather, and she said she appreciated the chance for her son to experience the role of the military in a visible way.

“His generation will always remember September 11th and view the military differently than my generation will,” she said, “so it’s nice to see things like this going on in the community so that it makes it more relatable for his generation.”