Vietnam veteran reunites with helicopter he flew on combat missions
A reunion more than 50 years in the making; a pilot is back with his helicopter that he flew in combat in Vietnam.
Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) — A reunion more than 50 years in the making; a pilot is back with his helicopter that he flew in combat in Vietnam.
“There were 40,000 helicopter pilots in the war, and I was one of those pilots,” said Frederick McCarthy, who was a Chief Warrant Officer 2 during the Vietnam War. “It’s really a neat aircraft, and I have a lot of memories.”
McCarthy is from Seattle, but was in Columbia with his family on Monday to see the B-Model Huey UH-1 that he once flew. It now resides on display on Fort Jackson.
McCarthy served in Vietnam from December of 1967 to December of 1968, and in that time flew 1,300 hours of combat missions.
“I was an aircraft commander at 20 years old. I had a copilot or pilot, then there was a crew chief that flew with us all the time, and a door gunner,” he said.
He said the helicopter still has the same Viking on the front.
“It’s really neat that you have the symbol of the Vikings on the nose cone. That’s the way we had it over there. My call sign was Viking 2-3,” said McCarthy.
Seeing an old aircraft is something many pilots can relate to, especially one that was flown during wartime.
“You know, you get to develop such an affinity with your aircraft. There’s a 100 switches and gauges in the cockpit, three different radios, you can tell where everything is just by feel,” said McCarthy.
To McCarthy; it’s more than just an aircraft. It’s a reminder of his service to our country and the lives lost in the Vietnam War.
“It’s not really about me being here today, it’s about this helicopter and the people who did not live 50 more years like I did,” he said.
The helicopter was decommissioned and brought to Fort Jackson in 1977.