Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

November 13, 2012

Wolters entrance now complete

Second helicopter added to gate entrance the finishing touch


Mineral Wells Index

— By CHRIS AGEE

In March 2011 the community celebrated the dedication of the new main entrance to Wolters Industrial Park made to resemble the historic Fort Wolters entry with an arched sign and two Army training helicopters mounted to pedestals on either side of the street.

But something has been missing since that date – one of the helicopters.

The entrance is now complete after Jerry Staggs on Monday completed installation of a restored Hughes TH-55 helicopter permanently affixed to a masonry platform on the east side of the entrance.

According to his wife, Letta, Staggs is a volunteer at the National Vietnam War Museum and became involved in the helicopter project through that affiliation.

The Wolters gate project has been under way since 2010 and Staggs, who was a crew chief and piloted the TH-55 during the Vietnam War, has worked since then to restore the helicopter now on display.

“He had to put it together from scratch,” his wife explained, adding he has also dealt with physical setbacks including a recent broken back.

The TH-55 joins a Hiller OH-23 at the gate entrance, representing the models of helicopters used to train pilots at Fort Wolters.

Ronny Collins, president of the Fort Wolters Gate Committee, said Monday’s installation “is the icing on the cake,” marking the completion of a long renovation project at the former base.

“Jerry’s done an amazing job,” Collins said, explaining “thousands of man hours have gone into this whole project.”