FLAGSTAFF (3TV/CBS 5) -- Two Vietnam veterans are restoring an old Army helicopter at the National Guard base just west of Flagstaff.

+7 
VETERANS RESTORE HELICOPTER PKG.transfer_frame_1634.jpg

“When it’s sitting in the condition where it’s deteriorating a little bit, everybody wants to get it fixed back up the way it should be,” said Lannie Van Tassel, who spearheaded the operation.

The old Huey sitting near the entrance of Camp Navajo brings back memories for the vets, both of who flew on similar aircraft during their tours of duty.

+7 
VETERANS RESTORE HELICOPTER PKG.transfer_frame_2304.jpg

“I think it made me the person I am today,” Steve Wolfenbarger said.

He and Van Tassel say the helicopter was originally assigned to Company C of the 158th Aviation Battalion of the 101st Airborne Division. Their radio call sign: Phoenix.

“It’s strange about combat, 'cause you’re scared, but it’s an adrenaline rush like you can’t believe,” Van Tassel said. “If they’re shooting at me, I grab my gun, and I’m shooting back.”

+7 
VETERANS RESTORE HELICOPTER PKG.transfer_frame_631.jpg

The vets recalled a resilient aircraft that they trusted with their lives.

“You do what you have to to keep her flying, and knowing that she’ll get you home when she has to,” Wolfenbarger said.

The veterans want to restore the exterior and interior of the helicopter. And while the old aircraft has withstood the elements relatively well, they also want to build a structure to protect the Huey from Flagstaff’s cold winters.

“It’s one of our fellow soldiers,” Van Tassel said.

If you’d like to help, you can donate to the project’s GoFundMe account.

+7 
Vets restore helicopter
 


Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

 

Multimedia Journalist

Recommended for you

(2) comments

Dean

I have a friend who purchased a Vietnam chopper for his business. While restoring it he discovered it was the one he flew (and was shot down) in Vietnam. He left the bullet holes.

sfr8

Yeah, and my uncle found a used Zippo in an antique shop with a dent. He soon discovered that it was the very lighter that saved his life in WWII.
(Give me a break.)

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.