Huey returns home to Vietnam Memorial

Retired National Guardsman and Vietnam veteran Richard “Dick” Dickerson, who serves on the board of the David Westphall Veterans Foundation, welcomes visitors and explains how the Huey will be placed on its stand at the Vietnam Veterans National Memorial in Angel Fire. (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)

Seven months after it was removed from its base at Angel Fire’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park and taken to Roswell for restoration and repairs, the 53-year old Huey Helicopter, Viking Surprise 64-13670, took the long road home Tuesday (May 16).

Donated to the Memorial by the New Mexico National Guard in 1999, the Huey has been the focal point of the grounds of the first major Vietnam Memorial in the United States.

In October 2016, the 1964 helicopter was moved by the NM Department of Transportation to AerSale, an aircraft repair and manufacture company in Roswell, which restored the Huey to almost mint condition, replacing seals, windows, reinforcing stress points, etc. Dean Baldwin Painting repainted the Huey in its original U.S. Army colors of the Vietnam War period.

All of the transportation, heavy lifting with cranes, refurbishing, repainting were donated by private companies and agencies. In most cases, employees of the companies and agencies eagerly volunteered their labor to work on the Huey.

The Angel Fire Huey took at least 135 bullets for American troops and was damaged in a rescue operation during the War in Vietnam. It was later repaired and delivered to the Arizona National Guard. The New Mexico National Guard took possession of the helicopter in 1991 and used the helicopter for training, transportation and other utility purposes until 1999.

The decommissioned helicopter was donated to the Vietnam memorial in Angel Fire.

In an earlier Chronicle interview, Dickerson said the sight of a Huey helicopter can be emotional for many Vietnam veterans. “There’s not a Vietnam veteran who comes to this memorial that doesn’t want a picture taken next to this aircraft.”

Angel Fire Village Councilor Chuck Howe (black vest), who is President of both the David Westphall Foundation and the National Veterans Wellness and Healing Center in Angel Fire, visits with Nathan Hill, pastor of the Moreno Valley Church of Christ Eagle Nest, as the Huey is prepared for transfer. (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
(Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
(Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
New Mexico National Guardsmen flew in for the installation. (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
Getting the Huey ready to “fly.” (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
(Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
(Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
Lining the Huey up for landing. (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
(Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
Anchorman Richard Sides. (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
Carl Shilcutt (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
Luis Carrillo of Angel Fire helps with the welding. (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
Welder Jonathan Prindle of Angel Fire (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
Jonathan Prindle (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
Jonathan Prindle (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
Jonathan Prindle (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
Jonathan Prindle (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
Luis Carrillo and Morgan Prindle, both of Angel Fire (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
(Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
(Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
(Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)

 

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