Thirty-eight years after Gordon Peterson returned from his combat tour in Vietnam, he read a newspaper article that called that conflict “a war without heroes.”

“It stuck in my craw,” said the retired Navy captain, who flew helicopters in the Mekong Delta with the heralded Navy Seawolves of Helicopter Attack (Light) Squadron 3 (HAL-3). Flying close cover for SEALS, U.S. and South Vietnamese ground units and Navy river patrol boats, the Seawolves lost 44 pilots and door gunners in five years. More than 200 were wounded.