Giving a little help to an old friendSpecial to The Mountaineer
As the jeep became the symbol of the World War II Soldier, the UH-1 helicopter, commonly known as the Huey, really symbolized the aircrews of all four services in Vietnam. The Huey was the workhorse helicopter of the war. The personal connection with the Huey remains for many Vietnam veterans.
“I can also attest to you that it was not just a machine, it became a part of us,” Brig. Gen. Alberto Jimenez said.
Jimenez was an helicopter pilot in Vietnam with more than 700 combat hours.
“It was our lives," he said. "It was our friend. It was the aircraft that took us in and out of Vietnam, and it was also the aircraft that saved many countless lives as we rushed the wounded and the sick out of the battlefield.”
About 7,000 of 16,000 Hueys produced since the 1950s were flown in Southeast Asia. The Huey earned a reputation for its adaptability and versatility. The Army lost almost 2,250 helicopters to enemy fire during the war, and more than half were Hueys, according to John Sotham’s article, “Huey,” in the Air and Space Magazine in May 2000. More Hueys were downed in Vietnam than any other aircraft. They were very valuable in many operations including medical evacuations.
The Students at the Academy at SOAR (Success Oriented Achievement Realized) are working to get the Bell Huey at the VFW 5202 in the dry. The greenhouse sky lights are broken. The side window has been repaired, and rusting parts have been painted.
"It is an honor to be working on this aircraft," one student said. "This is the real thing including bullet holes. Many good men paid the ultimate price in aircraft like this one. We salute the veterans of Foreign Wars and this is one way we can thank them for their service."