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Un-Believable Find - UH1D 63-8794 Ia Drang Valley Vet

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Un-Believable Find - UH1D 63-8794 Ia Drang Valley Vet

Post by (HHC/229) Skullz on Sat 16 May 2015 - 7:02

Hey Guys,

My wife and my son and I arrived in Huntsville, Alabama yesterday to visit my father-in-law. We got here about 1300 hrs yesterday afternoon. As soon as I got out of the car, I turned to my wife with wide eyes and said,"That's a Huey!" I could hear the familiar whoop, whoop, whoop in the distance--my father-in-law lives a few miles from the Huntsville International Airport. I never saw it but I heard it a few more times that afternoon. Anyway, my father-in-law wasn't home yet so I started searching the internet looking for any information on Hueys in the area. I didn't find any information that would explain what I heard. When my father-in-law, who's a Vietnam vet, got home I told him I thought I heard a Huey flying around. He told me Hueys routinely fly over the house because they had a few at the airport. Well, I had found something even better while searching the internet; I found something I never dreamed in a million years I'd ever find--one of the Hueys Robert Mason flew in the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley which had been restored and was on display at the U.S. Veteran's Memorial Museum in Huntsville, Alabama. I didn't even know there was a museum in Huntsville and neither did my father-in-law. I'm sure most of you have read the book Chickenhawk, which I read when I was 14 years old, well the author is Robert Mason. If you haven't read it you really can't call yourself a big fan of the Huey; do yourself a favor and download it from Amazon right away; it's the best book I ever read.

So, today we piled in the car and headed to the museum. On the way I told my son, "Man, it'd be a dream to sit in it." My son says, "Dad, it's a museum piece they won't let you near it." I said, "Probably not, but I'd be grateful just to get close to it." 15 minutes later we pulled up to a sparse looking building and sitting right there in front was 63-8794 in all it's glory. I could hardly contain my excitement. As I walked toward it I couldn't help but think about what the men who flew it, and flew in it, experienced--it was truly overwhelming. We went inside the building and as soon as we did, an older man with glasses and a beard grabbed my father-in-law and immediately starting asking him if he knew about the chopper outside. He grabbed a picture, the same one you see at the bottom of this post, and showed it to him. He asked him if he'd read Chickenhawk or seen We Were Soldiers and began explaining how it was flown in the battle of the Ia Drang Valley but my father-in-law was in the Navy and never stepped foot on Vietnamese soil so he was a little indifferent; but he pointed at me and said, "That man knows all about it. He's read the book and seen the movie" The gentleman then turned to me and started telling me he restored the ship and didn't know it until he ran the serial number but it was the actual bird Robert Mason flew into the Ia Drang Valley. He also told me that it made an appearance in the movie We Were Soldiers as a static display huey in the background--I'm not sure what part of the movie and I didn't think to ask. I told him how exited I was that it was here because I'd read Chickenhawk as a kid and knew about the tour Robert Mason did with the 1st Cav. I went on to tell him how cool it would be to sit in it. I expected him to laugh at me but, instead of laughing, he stepped just inside an office door and shook a key at me and said, "I have the keys, lets go." HOLY SHIT! I'm gonna sit in this thing!. Unfortunately, it's no longer air worthy and won't start and only the outside has been restored. Here's a few pics we took of this awesome piece of history:











Here's a photo of WO1 Robert Mason posing in front of the same Huey in Vietnam:



Last edited by (HHC/229) Skullz on Sat 16 May 2015 - 15:12; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Un-Believable Find - UH1D 63-8794 Ia Drang Valley Vet

Post by (C/229)Samri on Sat 16 May 2015 - 8:47

Great photos Skullz.

Nice find.

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Re: Un-Believable Find - UH1D 63-8794 Ia Drang Valley Vet

Post by (HHC/229) Strut on Sat 16 May 2015 - 10:00

Great find and well done Skullz those pics are great mate, i bet you wish you could take it home,,

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Re: Un-Believable Find - UH1D 63-8794 Ia Drang Valley Vet

Post by (C/229) Highway on Sat 16 May 2015 - 10:26

Nice job mate, that would make a great sim pit!

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Re: Un-Believable Find - UH1D 63-8794 Ia Drang Valley Vet

Post by (HHC/229) flyer on Sat 16 May 2015 - 10:42

That's awesome Skullz...still looks flyable...nose mounted pitot-static tube is correct for the time frame...how awesome to sit in such a revered aircraft.

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Re: Un-Believable Find - UH1D 63-8794 Ia Drang Valley Vet

Post by (B/229) NeF on Sat 16 May 2015 - 18:17

I would have wept!!!!!! Is this the chopper that got shot through the cockpit with his colt ?
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Re: Un-Believable Find - UH1D 63-8794 Ia Drang Valley Vet

Post by (A/229) BBall on Sun 17 May 2015 - 3:08


What an amazing find! THANKS Skullz!!!!

(great pics...btw, whose that "square-jawed, steely-eyed, straight white teeth, I got 2 moon landings" aviator in the 3rd pic down? Man looks like a stone-cold killer....( Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy )

Reading history, and seeing the artifact are great, but actually TOUCHING it does something to the soul....right?

Great story!

- BB
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Re: Un-Believable Find - UH1D 63-8794 Ia Drang Valley Vet

Post by (C/229) LiveBait on Mon 18 May 2015 - 21:29

Wow, bet you felt like a little kid at christmas, i know i would have.

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Re: Un-Believable Find - UH1D 63-8794 Ia Drang Valley Vet

Post by (HHC/229) Skullz on Mon 18 May 2015 - 21:33

(C/229) LiveBait wrote:Wow, bet you felt like a little kid at christmas, i know i would have.

It was hard to contain myself. I wanted to go back the next day and take more pictures but I didn't want to drag my wife back since she's not into history at all. I plan to go back the next time we visit.

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Re: Un-Believable Find - UH1D 63-8794 Ia Drang Valley Vet

Post by (C/229) LiveBait on Tue 19 May 2015 - 20:22

(HHC/229) Skullz wrote: I didn't want to drag my wife back since she's not into history at all.


I get complaints from my better half for watching the history channel.

A couple of weeks ago, there was an air show on near my parents place, unfortunately it was cancelled because of all the rain we had the week leading up to it. Here's the list of planes showing there:

   RAAF F/A-18 Hornet
   C-130 Hercules
   RAAF Roulettes
   RAN AS350 Squirrel Pairs Display Team
   HARS DHC-4 Caribou
   Jeff Trappet's CAC CA-18 Mustang
   Temora Aviation Museum's Supermarine Spitfire MkVIII
   Paul Bennet's Grumman TBF Avenger
   Temora Aviation Museum's Lockheed 414 Hudson
   Paul Bennet Wolf Pitts Pro Aerobatic Display
   Russian Roolettes 3 x Yak52 and 3 x Nanchang
   Matt Hall's Extra 300L Aerobatic Display
   HARS Lockheed 1049 Super Constellation
   Paul Bennet's North American T-28 Trojan
   Temora Aviation Museum's CA-13 Boomerang
   Paul Bennet Airshows Sky Aces Formation Aerobatics Display
   Southern Biplane's Boeing A75N1 Stearman
   Paul Bennet's CA-3 MK II Wirraway
   Jeff Trappet's CAC CA-27 Sabre Mk.32
   Topgun Australia's Jet Provost Mk5a
   Combat Dragon's Cessna A-37B Dragonfly
   Topgun Australia's L39C Albatross

You could even sit in the Sabre's cockpit for $5.
This is me the whole week before...


She just looked at me with that 'really' look on her face, couldn't of thought of anything worse to do on the weekend.

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Re: Un-Believable Find - UH1D 63-8794 Ia Drang Valley Vet

Post by (B/229) NeF on Wed 20 May 2015 - 2:37

I must be lucky, my wife is nuts about history, she has read my whole collection of huey pilots stories and keeps talking about it, or even a couple of days ago I found a bunch of literature on WW2 and WW1, brought them back and stashed it in my favourite place to read... I was waiting for the storm when she came very casually saying, "Interesting magazines you found there.." Very Happy
To complete everything, she has Bob Mason's wife, Patience, as a friend............ on facebook. Nobody's perfect.
And no, I won't try to make her fly with us.. she tried, said it was horribly difficult, and I my answer came out as: "Yes."
I'm not crazy.
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Re: Un-Believable Find - UH1D 63-8794 Ia Drang Valley Vet

Post by (A/229) Bandit 89 on Wed 20 May 2015 - 2:54

That's an amazing find! I'll have to add it to my list of places to visit when ever I get down that way. Thanks for the post and photos.
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Re: Un-Believable Find - UH1D 63-8794 Ia Drang Valley Vet

Post by (A/229) Oxodius on Fri 22 May 2015 - 13:32

Sweet find Smile

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Re: Un-Believable Find - UH1D 63-8794 Ia Drang Valley Vet

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