Saturday, June 4, 2016

Take Me Home Huey

I had the very great honor and privilege to be invited to visit the Marine Corp Museum in Quantico (Triangle, Va)., to help welcome the Take Me Home Huey project.



The Huey was shot down on a rescue mission in 1969 during which two of the crew were lost.

Steve Maloney working with Light Horse Legacy endeavored to mark the recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam war with a project that might help bridge the gap between 'Nam vets and society, and bring greater awareness of and assistance to veterans suffering with PTSD)*

The project which includes not only the chopper but, also, a dedicated song and a documentary is in the process of traveling the country for the next three years.

After it was refurbished and re-skinned, Steve covered the bird with iconic symbols of the things G.I.'s longed for while waiting to be taken, often in part by a Huey, back home, back to "the world."





An interesting feature of the project is the unusual use of "parts" from the Huey, left as they might have been found all these years later.




The two crew members lost on that final rescue mission are commemorated on the chopper's skids.



Inside, there is this metal box that is becoming a time capsule. I was asked to contribute something to it and I consider this quite an honor. I spent a lot of time wondering what might be appropriate and finally it dawned on me that a copy of the documentary made about Vietnam vets from my community might be just the thing. The documentary called, Honor and Gratitude, can be found elsewhere on this site or on YouTube, if you are interested. Seven 'Nam vets were interviewed and perhaps it will be interesting or enlightening to those who open the time capsule 50 years from now. I must admit, I wonder if they will have any old technology around to play it, but I am optimistic.



I arrived early on the day before the actual events and was thrilled to see hundreds and hundreds of bikers rolling in, one contingent of the hundreds of thousands that will participate in Rolling Thunder on Sunday, the 29th. I had to wait quite some time to let them get into the parking area before I could follow.



This it turns out was a happy coincidence for them. They were on the Ride to the Wall and they always stop at the museum, but did not know the chopper would be there. I spoke with many and they were from all over the country, North Carolina, Georgia, New Mexico and Arizona. I met others from Washington State.

Many wanted pics with the Huey and I was very happy to help them out with that, In got to use a whole bunch of different cameras.  All in all a lot of memories were shared, it was very moving.

This is a pic of Steve Maloney, the artist, and yours truly.



A group of, mostly Native American, vets from Yakima Washington happened to be here, too. This gentleman is nearly 84 years old and served in both Korea and Vietnam. When he heard that I had visited the memorial in Yakima last October, he gave a very nice Washington State Welcome Home pin to add to those on my cap.



I had another experience that was new for me. I was talking to the son of one of the principles in the project, I am guessing he was a High School student. He was showing me a hat pin someone had given him. He was saying how much he liked it and wanted to start a collection.I was really impressed with this, so I pulled my 50th Anniversary pin off my hat and said, "Here, now you have two." His dad came over and very gently, yet firmly, said "No, those are only for 'Nam vets." and handed it back to me. I had not actually been aware of this and I feel a little badly for setting this young man up for disappointment. I apologized to him, he seemed OK.

The next day the exhibit was officially open to the public. Many people had the opportunity to see the chopper, talk to Steve and his partners, visit with the crew and families and revisit a part of our past, our history, that we are still trying to explain, understand and learn from. ABC news was there is the person of Jay Korff who spent much time talking to many who were involved and shooting film for a project on which he is working. all in all, I think this was a remarkable event and I want to thank Steve and all his crew and Light Horse Legacy for allowing me to participate in my small way.

* (I had the opportunity on Tuesday evening to hear Mike Love, of the Beach Boys, speak about how Transcendental Meditation is being used by vets to help with their PTS. (PTSD))


Next time, on the 9th, we will visit a small town in New Jersey. so, as I always ask. please join me there at 9:00am.

To see other Vietnam memorials from all around the country, please click on any state name on the left side of this page.


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