In January 2013, the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation (NJVVMF) took possession of a 1964 Bell UH-1D, Iroquois helicopter, also known as the “Huey.” After spending more than two decades deteriorating at Fort Dix, New Jersey, the Huey is currently under restoration by a crew of veteran volunteers.
The crew has logged more than 1,500 hours working to restore the helicopter at an airport in Wall Township, and the Huey will be permanently installed in spring 2014 on the grounds of the Vietnam Era Museum & Educational Center in Holmdel, NJ.
Dedicated in 1998, the museum is celebrating its 15th Anniversary. It’s the first and only museum of its kind in the country and its exhibits and programs are devoted to gaining an understanding of the Vietnam Era, the War in Southeast Asia and its lasting impact on American culture.
“Operation Huey Restoration” is a labor of love. The crew of veteran volunteers could not be more qualified as many served as pilots and maintenance technicians. Their dedication and passion reflect the significance of the project. This project has once again brought these veterans together, working towards an important goal. They understand that their work will preserve their legacies and leave a lasting impression on all who experience the Huey exhibit.
The Huey, serial #64-13732, served two tours in Vietnam. From October 1966 through September 1967, it served with the 116th Assault Helicopter Company, “The Hornets” at Cu Chi in support of the 25th Infantry Division. After being repaired from damage sustained during a crash, it served with the 118th Assault Helicopter Company, “The Thunderbirds” from November 1968 through February 1970 at Bien Hoa. During its service in Vietnam, this Huey logged more than 3,000 flight hours, saving countless lives and providing daily support for troops.
For project updates and to view the crew at work visit www.njvvmf.org.
Jennifer Smiga is Founder of inBLOOM Communications. She lives in Long Branch, NJ with her family and is the marketing consultant for the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation in Holmdel, NJ.