Enriquez, others honor Vietnam-era pilot during Bedford bridge dedication

  • Published
  • By Mark Wyatt
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – State and local officials honored retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Barry A. Seidman during a bridge dedication ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park in Bedford, Massachusetts, May 27.

Seidman, a longtime Bedford resident who died in December 2020, participated in the air war in Vietnam, where he earned 36 air medals and the Silver Star for bravery.

“There is no better weekend to honor the courageousness of Major Seidman than that of Memorial Day, a day we have remembered our fallen since 1868,” said Col. Taona Enriquez, installation commander at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., who spoke during the dedication ceremony.

The event also featured remarks from U.S Rep. Seth Moulton, Massachusetts State Rep. Kenneth Gordan from Bedford, and Seidman’s wife, Valerie, who spoke personally about her husband. 

“Barry was a very funny, gracious and humble man who didn’t like to talk a lot about his time in Vietnam,” she said.

Seidman also reflected on the impact her husband had on generations of Americans.

“I was told he saved hundreds of lives. I started thinking about the hundreds of lives that really turned into thousands when you think about the generations that came from those Soldiers he saved,” she said.

Though a B-52 pilot, Seidman transitioned to a Forward Air Controller flying the Cessna O-1 Bird Dog in 1966.

“As a FAC, Major Seidman paved the way for visual reconnaissance missions,” said Enriquez.

Seidman was responsible for pinpointing the location of enemy troops through dense jungle. This intelligence was provided to Army commanders in order to direct the operations of friendly forces.

“Pilots were required to reduce to near stalling speeds in order to mark targets for close air support,” said Enriquez. “This procedure involved pulling up and nosing over targets and diving.”

The former Electronic Systems Division at Hanscom AFB would later have a role in upgrading the communications equipment for Bird Dog and similar aircraft.

Throughout his 27 months in Vietnam, Seidman flew 901 combat missions and logged more than 1,400 combat mission hours in extremely hostile conditions in an aircraft that would be retired in 1974.

Moulton, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who led an infantry unit in Iraq, spoke about how Seidman and other Bird Dog pilots protected troops on the ground.

“[Maj. Seidman] risked his life every day for Americans he didn’t know. That’s his legacy,” said Moulton.

Seidman entered the Air Force in 1962 under the ROTC program at Boston University.

“Major Seidman was a humble man, who cared for his family and country,” said Enriquez. “But under the surface we see a true hero. The first of the first, a trailblazer to the intelligence and reconnaissance mission we know today.”

Following his retirement in 1982, Seidman operated a family-run business in Cambridge, Mass.

During the ceremony, a sign was unveiled to officially rename the bridge "Maj. Barry Allan Seidman Memorial Bridge."

“Let this bridge serve as a marker of Major Seidman’s unwavering commitment and sacrifice he made in defense of our nation,” said Enriquez.

The bridge is located along the state highway portion of The Great Road in Bedford.

Base officials will participate in other local town Memorial Day observances on Monday, May 29.