HOLMDEL - A group of 30 Vietnam veterans have restored a Huey helicopter, unveiling it just in time for New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Remembrance Day.
Restored to its former glory, the Huey helicopter has been mounted up high outside the Vietnam Era Museum and Educational Center in Holmdel to greet visitors.
Vietnam veteran and Super Bowl champ Rocky Bleier was the keynote speaker at the dedication before about 1,000 people, including many fellow veterans.
Vietnam Veteran Ken Gurbisz, of Eatontown, was among the 30 veterans who spent the past 15 months sanding, painting, and rewiring the chopper inside a hangar at Monmouth Executive Airport in Wall.
Left in a field at Fort Dix for 20 years, the Huey was a mess. It had animals and more than 100 hornets nests inside.
"It needed TLC, let's put it that way," says Gurbisz. "It was hit a couple times by a truck. We did leave a couple creases in the tail, because it's used ... it's not new."
As part of the ceremony, the sounds of a Huey were played over the loudspeakers, taking many vets back to a difficult time.
"You never forget the sound of the choppers coming in," says Vietnam vet Dennis Ryan. "Saved so many lives, so many wounded."
The Huey served two tours in Vietnam and crashed twice. Those who helped restore it say its now a teaching tool to help people never forget.