Skip to comments.Hero to say goodbye to iconic ‘Huey'
Posted on 01/26/2011 9:45:09 AM PST by llevrok
Its not enough for retired Lt. Col. Bruce Crandall to wave goodbye to the Armys last UH-1 helicopter flying on the West Coast.
Crandall, 77, wants to take the controls of the Huey himself.
I would fly it tomorrow, said Crandall, a Medal of Honor recipient from Port Orchard. If I can, Ill be in the cockpit.
Hes the guest of honor at the Yakima Training Center today, where the Army Air Ambulance Detachment plans to mothball its last Huey.
The iconic Vietnam War-era chopper was still in use for medical evacuations at the Yakima grounds through September. Its been replaced by new models of the UH-72 Lakota, a quick helicopter designed for medical missions.
The Hueys departure marks the passing of an era to Crandall and other Vietnam veterans who remember the whoop whoop of its blades gliding into combat zones.
Youll never see a movie about Vietnam without some helicopters flying around and theyll all be Hueys, said retired Col. Philip E. Courts, 72, of DuPont.
Courts career spanned the Hueys heyday. It was first produced in 1959, and Courts was an instructor pilot in the early 1960s teaching others how to fly the chopper. At the time, it represented a considerable improvement in power and speed. Courts was eager to fly the Huey instead of its cumbersome predecessors.
He served two tours of duty in Vietnam, flying Hueys on medical evacuations and attack runs. The Army sent about 7,000 Hueys to Vietnam; it lost 3,305, according to the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association.
Courts went on to command the 9th Aviation Battalion at Fort Lewis. He retired in 1988 with the Blackhawk and Apache established as the Armys primary helicopters.
I know the new equipment is much better, said Courts. Its much more sophisticated and more capable. But I still have a soft spot for the Huey. We could not have done what we did in Vietnam without the Huey.
Courts will be the featured speaker at todays ceremony in Yakima. Hell be joined by his son, Col. Michael Courts, who likewise became an Army helicopter pilot. Michael Courts now is the deputy chief of staff at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Crandalls achievements in a Huey are memorialized in print and on film. He commanded a helicopter company during the Nov. 14, 1965 battle at the Ia Drang Valley, the first major battle between American ground forces and the North Vietnamese Army.
Crandall and his wingman, the late Maj. Ed Freeman, made 14 landings under fire that day and are credited with saving more than 70 soldiers.
Both received the Medal of Honor for their actions at Ia Drang. Theyre memorialized in We Were Soldiers, a 2002 movie starring Mel Gibson that recounts the battle.
Crandall was an adviser to the movie crew. He last flew a Huey while working on the set.
He told Gibson he felt as if hed never stopped flying.
Like riding a bicycle? Gibson asked.
More like sex, unless youre really into riding a bicycle, Crandall joked to the actor.
Crandall misses flying, but not only for the adrenaline. Seeing the Huey go reminds him of the lives it saved.
It meant that theres a lot of people living today that wouldnt be here grandchildren and some great grandchildren because that helicopter performed. It brought home a lot of my friends, he said.
One of the classic air frames of all time.
My husband flew the Huey in the OK Army National Guard, until they retired it and him.
Crandall was Snake Shit correct?
My Dad used to fly his Huey over the house and wave to us at Benning. I still love that sound and can tell a Bell twin blade rotor from miles away.
Thanks for the post. Here’s a link to a great documentary on the Huey:
I sent this to my Dad and he served with Courts and met Crandall.
All the Way!
A good question should be, “Will there be a commercial production Huey based on the military models?”
There was a very successful commercial production Jeep and Humvee, so why not a Huey?
Its selling points would be that it would be “factory simple”, without a lot of the bells and whistles of most commercial helicopters, with perhaps a more efficient engine. There are lots of Huey models, with all sorts of mods, and Bell might be receptive to a low end production line.
No need to make more. They are still modernizing and reselling existing ones.
Gotta love the UH-1...the AK-47 of helicopters...simple, rugged, durable.
And Freeman was “Too Tall.”
It is FR protocol that any story about the Ia Drang be bumped to Aloha Ronnie. He was there and is an FR hero of first order.
Once a soldier and young,
...They are still soldiers
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..BRUCE CRANDALL = MEDAL OF HONOR..
I never will my Friend!!
GARRY OWEN, Sir
I think I told you this before. Dad was in Ia Drang just a few months after you all were there.
He had two tours and then we spent many more years on various bases. His 70th birthday is next week. My hero.
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While a refurbished Huey would be good, I’m thinking more along the lines of a consumer Huey. Though it’s easy to compare it to a passenger minivan, probably a better comparison would be to a panel van.
A utility helicopter to transfer van sized cargo over terrain faster than it could be done on the ground. Say, in mountainous, swampy, or rocky terrain with few roads.
The design emphasis would be on a more efficient engine and lower maintenance. Maybe even adding fanwing props (centrifugal fans) in pods for much better lift and stabilization.
Los Al base helicopter simulators take final flight
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