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AH-64 Apache helicopter visits Blairsville
Larry Ayers and Joel Gooch

June 05, 2007 - AH-64 Apache Helicopter lands at Blairsville Airport

Blairsville Airport was recently the scene of a surprise visit from an AH-64 Apache helicopter. Warrant Officer Joel Gooch and Chief Warrant Officer Larry Ayers with the South Carolina Army National Guard landed the Apache for a quick visit with family and friends.

Gooch's wife, Casey Burrell Gooch, was excited to see her husband. She said, "I'm very proud of Joel. There are so many people in Blairsville that miss him. It's exciting that he got to stop in while on this practice mission."

The crowd greeted the two pilots with hugs, kisses, and handshakes. Everyone got a chance to see the Apache up close as the two officers pointed out interesting features.

The Apache is a fighting machine carrying a 30 mm cannon, Hellfire missiles, and 2.75 inch hydra rockets. Just like in the movies, the Apache has big sharp teeth painted down its sides. Seeing one up close is amazing.

You have to get permission to wash bugs off the windshield when the vehicle is an U.S. Apache helicopter. Security was on hand at the Blairsville Airport with Sheriff Scott Stephens and a couple of deputies standing by. They didn't have any worries though; Ayers and Gooch never let the bird out of their site.

WO1 Joel Gooch is the son of Sandra and Lynn Gooch of Blairsville, Georgia. Joel has many family members and friends in the Union County area. Everyone's prayers are with these two young men and all the other military personnel that serve our country.