Monday, August 22, 2016

"Goodbye, my love, hello, Vietnam..."

My wife and I took a day trip over to Fort Jennings, Ohio this Sunday. The town is celebrating a bicentenary this year, and held 'Fort Fest' military display in a local park. The main theme was the Vietnam War, and a few veterans both human and mechanical showed up for the three day event.

First up we encountered a classic Jeep with a 75mm Pack Howitzer in tow.

Interesting enough, but my eye was immediately drawn to the Huey resting on the grass a short distance away.

The classic workhorse of the Vietnam War, the UH-1 served in many versions and variants, and is still flying today. This particular bird comes from the American Huey 369 Museum in Peru, Indiana. She began life as a UH-1D, serving as a medevac during the war. She had an eventful career, including having her skids shot off during one encounter with Charlie. One of the veterans told me a clever method was deployed to enable choppers suffering such damage to land safely - a deep and level stack of sandbags. The bird flopped down on the bags, the remains of the skids poked deep into the stack and the bird stayed upright, no problem.

She was later converted to a UH-1H model with the simple addition of a few pieces of equipment, went on to serve in the National Guard (Maine, I believe) before being retired then acquired by the preservation group. She's now in far better maintenance condition than at any time during the war.

One of her sisters gave air trips around the locality, taking off from the football field next door.

Coming up to speed...

A slight backward movement to gather momentum...
...then Whooosh! She was gone!
The classic whop-whop-whop sound of those big old blades biting the air filled the sky. The veteran told me it was quite something to hear forty or so Hueys spooling up for a mission. He also described the difficulties in cutting a landing place in thick jungle, the Huey having to slide down a virtual tube cut out of jungle growth with scant inches to spare - then repeat the process going back up. The ground effect works up to 20-30 feet, after that the chopper is riding on 'dead air,' reliant upon the power of its engine alone to take it up.

A couple more shots of the Huey on the ground, including that tiny cockpit.

Another Jeep, this one bearing the legend Wicklow. An Irish connection, perhaps?

Last up was a Sherman Easy Eight painted as General Creighton Abrams personal tank, Thunderbolt, which he used during WW2. This particular vehicle was one of 2,000 Shermans built at a plant in nearby Lima, Ohio.

The town also played host to the travelling version of the Vietnam Memorial Wall. Over fifty thousand names bear witness to the cost of that war. I managed to take a photo of the memorial just as the Huey flew over. Some of the men and perhaps women named on the Wall may well have flown on that very helicopter...


Michael Awdry said...

Some splendid bits of kit there and that last photograph is particularly emotive.

Oswald said...

Interesting post - great to see some iconic bits of hardware from the Vietnam era.


home page uniques