This spring, a 1964 Iroquois UH-1D “Huey” helicopter fully restored by a group of Veteran volunteers, many of whom were Vietnam-era helicopter pilots and maintenance technicians, was dedicated after making its final landing in front of the Vietnam Era Museum and Educational Center in Holmdel, N.J.
“At the Huey Plaza’s Dedication Ceremony on May 7th – among hundreds of fellow Vietnam Veterans – I was brought back by the sounds of the Huey, as its pitch is unmistakable,” recalls New Jersey state President of the Vietnam Veterans of America Dennis Beaureard. “My relationship with the Huey began in 1968, when I was an infantry soldier in the U.S. Army, 9th Division, 3/39th Infantry, Bravo Company. I was evacuated from the Mekong Delta and flown by to the 3rd Field Hospital on Feb. 2, 1968.
Beauregard, a key supporter of a fundraising effort called Operation Huey Paver, has partnered with the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation (NJVVMF) to invite individuals, organizations and businesses to be part of the newly constructed Huey Plaza by purchasing a paving stone for $350. Each paving stone within the plaza can be engraved with a personal message of support to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War as well as financially support programming at the museum and educational center.
“The Huey helicopter is the iconic symbol of the Vietnam War, and family and friends recognize the Huey Plaza as an ideal venue to preserve the memory of their loved ones,” said NJVVMF’s Executive Director Bill Linderman. “Many visitors, including thousands of school children from across New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, will visit the exhibit and read the messages, educating future generations on the sacrifices made by our Vietnam Veterans.”
The presence of the renovated Huey serves as a reminder of the sacrifices of Vietnam Veterans, and a way to pass the knowledge on to many visitors to come. Although the Huey will never actually be able to fly again, it comes to life with simulated sounds of its spinning rotor blades at the entrance to the Vietnam Era Museum & Educational Center. The exhibit is open daily and on the first Saturday of each month at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. free tours are led by Vietnam Veterans by appointment.
The New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation offers a meaningful and engaging experience that recognizes the sacrifice, courage and valor of Vietnam Veterans, and encourages and fosters a thorough understanding of the Vietnam Era – including the political, historical, social, cultural and military aspects surrounding the war, as it affected the United States, and especially New Jersey.
To support the NJVVMF, or for directions, visit www.njvvmf.org. For more information on purchasing a paver stone, call (732) 335-0033, or visit the NJVVMF Huey Plaza Paver Program page to choose your contribution and download the paver order form of your choice.
Jennifer Smiga is Founder of inBLOOM Communications. She lives in Long Branch, NJ with her family and is the marketing consultant for the New Jersey Vietnam
Veterans’ Memorial Foundation in Holmdel, NJ.