ANGEL FIRE, N.M. (KRQE) – One of New Mexico’s historic military icons has gotten a major makeover.
The Huey Helicopter that normally sits at the Vietnam Memorial in Angel Fire is on its way back there, and it looks as good as new.
The Vietnam Huey, nicknamed “Viking Surprise,” went up at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1999.
Winter weather and sun were slowly disintegrating it.
In October, it was brought to Roswell to specialists in aircraft restoration.
AerSale volunteers worked on the interior and airframe, replacing windows, fixing corroded areas and even restoring lights.
Then it was onto Dean Baldwin Painting where they restore and paint big aircraft. Dean Baldwin volunteers put the last paint on over the weekend.
“The Vietnam era is one of the least recognized eras, you know, so we wanted to do our part to help honor them and make sure they are recognized and give them something that they could go and see and enjoy,” said David Aguilar of Dean Baldwin Painting.
Dick Dickerson was crew chief on this aircraft in the New Mexico National Guard in the ’90s. He says its place at Angel Fire brings comfort to those who served in Vietnam.
“It either got you into trouble, but more hopefully out of trouble. And if it wasn’t doing that it brought your mail, brought your water, brought you ammunition,” said Dickerson, Veteran Crew Chief.
This historic aircraft will be reinstalled at Angel Fire on Tuesday, and that comes just in time for a couple of special events. The coast-to-coast “Run for the Wall” motorcycle tour stops at Angel Fire this week, and of course Memorial Day is coming up.
The Huey is not able to fly home. Crews from the New Mexico Department of Transportation will truck it back to Angel Fire.