DAYTON, Ohio --
As the renovation of the Southeast Asia War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force continues, visitors have the opportunity to learn more about the aircraft and personnel who served during that time.
The museum's UH-1 "Huey" helicopter, for example, served with the 20th Special Operations Squadron in South Vietnam, flying dangerous, highly-classified missions inserting special operations personnel into Laos and Cambodia. In June 1969, this aircraft was converted into a UH-1P gunship equipped with two rocket pods and two miniguns.
"While the Huey is an iconic symbol of the Southeast Asia War, most people only know about its use as an airborne assault and medical evacuation helicopter," said Jeff Duford, a research historian at the museum. "We are delighted to now tell the incredible and largely unknown story of Air Force Huey crews in Southeast Asia."
The aircraft on display is painted to appear as the UH-1F flown by Capt. Jim Fleming on Nov. 26, 1968, when he braved intense enemy fire to rescue a small reconnaissance team that was about to be overrun by a much larger enemy force. Fleming was awarded the Medal of Honor for the mission, and as part of the gallery renovation, museum staff will install a diorama around the helicopter to tell this particular story.
Restoration work is continuing on the UH-1 while it is on display, modifying it so that it more accurately reflects Capt. Fleming's aircraft. Machinists from the museum's restoration staff are currently fabricating parts to help construct gun mounts on the aircraft.
For more information and photos of the UH-1, see www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=308
Museum staff began renovating the Southeast Asia War Gallery last fall in preparation for the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. Air Force campaign during the Southeast Asia War. The improved exhibit space will reopen in four phases, with the first phase scheduled to open this spring. Throughout the renovation, access to aircraft and other exhibits may be temporarily limited.
The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located on Springfield Street, six miles northeast of downtown Dayton. It is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day). Admission and parking are free. For more information about the museum, visit www.nationalmuseum.af.mil
NOTE TO PUBLIC: For more information, please contact the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at (937) 255-3286.
NOTE TO MEDIA: For more information, please contact Sarah Swan at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Public Affairs Division at (937) 255-1283.