VFW receives approval on helicopter for veterans memorial

Huey helicopter fast facts

Official name: UH-1 helicopter

Introduction: 1959

Use: Utility helicopter for U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps

Length: 57 feet

Empty weight: 5,200 pounds

To donate

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 is accepting donations for a proposed veterans memorial in Craig.

An account has been set up at Yampa Valley Bank, 435 Mack Lane, in the name of VFW Post 4265.

For more information call 824-7145.

Vietnam veteran Mark Wick can recognize the sounds of a Huey helicopter before he sees one.

When the Vietnam Moving Wall came through Craig in 2007, a Huey helicopter was part of a ceremony to recognize the replica of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Wick knew what it was immediately.

"I could recognize it because they have a sound like nothing else," he said. "I couldn't see it, but I knew what it was."

He said the sound of the Huey was always a relief to hear during the Vietnam War.

"You heard these things all the time because they're flying all over," Wick said. "I like the sound of them. They were our friends and were very good things to have around."

A decommissioned Huey helicopter might soon make its home in Craig, as the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 recently received approval from the Army and the national VFW to obtain one of the machines for a proposed veterans memorial.

The memorial will feature the Huey and a statue as its centerpiece honoring local Medal of Honor recipient Maj. William E. Adams.

Adams, who piloted a Huey for the Army, was shot down in May 1971 in Vietnam as he attempted to evacuate wounded soldiers from a hostile area.

Wick said Hueys were useful and versatile helicopters.

They were used for everything from gun ships to hospital ships, like in Adams' case.

They are large machines and can fit as many as 11 people.

But the Huey that has already been designated to travel to Craig will never fly again.

Instead, it will be stationed on a pedestal at a yet-to-be-determined memorial location.

Larry Neu, another VFW member who also is working on the veterans memorial, said everything is in line to receive the helicopter from the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama.

However, local veterans are not ready to move the helicopter in just yet.

"It's slow going right now," Neu said. "But we're going to see this through until the end."

Wick said there was a lot of paperwork and waiting involved in getting the statue built and the helicopter in place.

"We're still in that stumbling stage," Wick said. "We're going to have to put a helicopter on a pedestal. Somebody's going to have to dig the hole, somebody will have to supply concrete. We're going to be looking for a lot of contributions."

He and Neu estimate the project could cost between $50,000 and $100,000.

So far, the VFW has raised about $11,000 and received commitments for federal grants.

"Sometimes you get frustrated and you wonder why you are doing this and where it's going," Wick said. "But what can you do? At least it's forever."

He said the latest development - the approval from the Army and from the national VFW - was encouraging to the future of the project.

The helicopter is an important symbol for a veteran's memorial to display, he said.

"We can all relate to that era in Vietnam," he said. "And the Huey was such a big part of it. Plus, Adams was flying in one when he was shot down. It all comes together. It's all part of the healing process. We remember those kinds things."

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