Today is Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Huey lands in Wilson

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A piece of history has found its final resting spot in Wilson County.

A UH-1H Helicopter used during the Vietnam War is on-loan "permanently" to the Veterans Plaza - which is scheduled to open this fall.

Folks were excited to see the Huey as it was pulled into the James E. Ward Agricultural Center by a semi-truck on Wednesday. The bird currently has a primer coat and needs a lot of work to restore it to its original look.

It comes with a rich background.

Military equipment enthusiast Chris Corley said the Huey was constructed in 1965 and sent to Vietnam in 1966. It has four bullet holes in the bottom.

Ret. Col. Jerry McFarland said it returned in 1968 and was taken to ARADMAC (Army Aeronautical Depot Maintenance Center).

"It was originally a D model and had an L11 engine. They brought her back in '68 and went thru ARADMAC and converted it an H model," he said.

The aircraft was used in the 48th Air Cavalry, known as "the Jokers," Corley added.

McFarland said the Huey has been sitting outside for the last 15 to 20 years, but with assistance from the Wilson County Sheriff's Office, will be restored.

"Our goal is to bring in new seats and get it cleaned up so that kids (visiting the museum) can sit in it and turn on the radio," McFarland said. "I used to fly that bird. (Former Sheriff) Terry Ashe flew in that bird."

"This is history you can touch," said Veterans Service Officer Bernie Ash.

Ash credited McFarland with taking the reins on the project. "He found out the state had it at Tune Airport and it was going to rust down. He went about finding out what it would take to get it here and he was successful," Ash explained.

Anyone who is interested in donating financial, time or material-wise to restore the Huey can call Ash at (615) 444-2460.

"I will point them in the right direction," he said.

The museum portion of the Veterans Plaza is tentatively scheduled to open October 29, 2016.

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at sgarrett@wilsonpost.com.

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