Navy Seawolves
 
Bell UH-1B, 62-4567
This B Model Huey flew over 2400 flight hours in Vietnam

Now at Displayed at Cavanaugh Flight Museum, Addison, TX
 
Built in July 1963 by the Bell Helicopter Co. of Ft. Worth Texas for the United States Army, this aircraft was originally assigned stateside to the 4TH Aviation Company. In February of 1966 it was shipped to Vietnam, where it became part of the 611TH Transportation Company, serving until June of 1967 when it was returned to the United States for Gunship Conversion.

Returning to Vietnam in January 1968, it was assigned to the Gunship Platoon of the 120th Assault Helicopter Company based at Tan Son Nhut Air Base near Saigon. During the first hours of the 1968 "Tet Offensive" it was one of 8 helicopters that defended the air base and the city, taking small arms hits on 1/31/68 and 2/2/68. This platoon, "The Razorbacks", was credited by the mayor of Saigon, with the saving of the city. "4567" continued service until February 1971 when it was again transferred.

Accepted by U.S. Navy Attack Helicopter Squadron 3, HAL-3, at Binh Thuy in February 1971, it was cleaned, necessary repairs made, and new markings were applied. This squadron, "The Seawolves" was tasked with naval close air support for River Patrol Forces in Vietnam, Task Force 116, including PBR and Swift Boat fire support, SEAL Team insertions and extractions as well as joint operations with Army Riverine units. Serving first with Detachment 1 at "Solid Anchor" and then with Detachment 7 in Dong Tam, this gunship flew hundreds of combat missions over the Mekong Delta supplying firepower for the Navy. In October of 1971, it was deemed that this aircraft, approaching its 9th year of service, was in need of a major overhaul. It then left Vietnam and was returned to the Bell Helicopter Co.

By the time the rebuild was completed in the summer of 1972, there was no further need of additional aircraft in Vietnam, as the war was winding down. It served as a training aircraft at Ft. Rucker, Alabama until 1975, was then transferred to St. Paul, Minnesota and then Wisconsin as part of the Army National Guard. It last flight was in January 1984, after which it was cannibalized for parts and later sold to a VFW post, in 1986, for display. Severely vandalized while in storage, it was sold in 1997 to John Kessler of Florida who began the long restoration process, which continues to this day through present owner, Scott Kraska of Naples, Florida.

Next...