By LIBBY CLUETT
Despite storms and high winds, American Huey 369 helicopter and crew eventually touched down Sunday at 8:15 p.m. at the Mineral Wells Municipal Airport.
The group had originally planned to arrive around 2 p.m., coming from Arizona, but weather forced the delay. Despite the delay, at 8:15 p.m. there were close to 35 hearty souls at the airport terminal to greet the crew and visit during a reception hosted by the Friends of the Museum (National Vietnam War Museum), according to local organizer and Friends' member Mary Creighton.
Local singer/songwriter Troy Stone was on hand to sing a few of the patriotic songs he has written and performed in the past few years.
“It was amazing, the interest that the young people had for this arrival. One 3-year-old sat quietly with his mother until the group arrived,” Creighton said. “The crew took time to visit with the folks before staying in Mineral Wells for the night.
“Crew members were so appreciative of those who came out to visit,” she added. “They were also given bottles of Crazy Water to take with them on their journey.”
The vintage helicopter has been touring the nation. The goal of the Indiana-based American Huey 369 Organization is to preserve, educate generations, present and to come, and pay tribute to veterans and patriots.
The Huey 369 traveled to Bell Helicopter in Fort Worth on Monday, Creighton said, and then on to other places on this trip.
In the 1950s, Bell Helicopter developed the UH-1, called a “Huey,” to compete for the U.S. Army’s desire for a general-purpose, medical/casualty evacuation vehicle.
First used by the military in 1959, over 7,000 served in Vietnam, making the machines an icon of the Vietnam War.
At 41-feet-long and 5,000-plus pounds, the Huey could carry an additional 3,000 pounds of cargo, such as two pilots, two crew and 11-14 troops.