California Army Guard bids farewell to Huey
By Lt. Theresa Chrystal
California National Guard
MATHER, Calif. (4/21/09) - The distinctive hum of the UH-1 helicopter faded into the distance Monday as the last “Huey” took off from Mather Air Field in Sacramento on its final flight for the California Army National Guard.
The Huey has been renowned during its 50 years of military service as “the sound of freedom,” the Swiss-Army knife of helicopters and as a symbol of America’s efforts in Vietnam. The California National Guard has retired its Hueys and replaced them with more advanced UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.
“This is kind of a sad day for me, but also an important day, as we mark the end of an era for a tremendous machine that has contributed so much for the freedom of the United States and become a symbol of Army Aviation,” said Brig. Gen. Daniel J. Nelan, assistant adjutant general of the California Army National Guard, who has flown more than 3,500 hours in UH-1 aircraft. “The Huey has been the backbone of Army Aviation for a number of years.”
The U.S. military first used the Huey in 1959, and the last Huey rolled off the production lines in 1976. More than 16,000 of the aircraft were produced, including 7,000 that were used during the Vietnam War.
The California National Guard had used the Huey since 1971 for firefighting, search-and-rescue, medical evacuation and other operations.
“This aircraft, the Huey, has been an icon of Army Aviation since the late 50s, definitely an icon of the Vietnam War,” said Chief Warrant Officer Randall Weatherhead, who piloted the California Guard’s last Huey to Fort Hood, Texas, on the helicopter’s final Guard flight. The helicopter will be turned over to Army Materiel Command....
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