The Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome should be getting a new addition next year — a helicopter.

What You Need To Know

  • A Huey helicopter is being worked on by Mohawk Valley Community College students for a Vietnam War veterans memorial in Rome
  • The helicopter is expected to be displayed next summer
  • The helicopter was recently moved to the college's new hangar

"We started this dream back in 1994 when the Moving Wall came to Rome on the grounds of Fort Stanwix, and it kind of put an idea in our head that we would like to do something more permanent for the memorial for Vietnam veterans," said New York State Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Associate Member Mark Jennings.

After a long process that was pushed along by many supporters, Jennings, as the project's phase II coordinator and a veteran himself, is now helping organize the restoration of a Huey helicopter to eventually be placed at the memorial.

It's being restored by Mohawk Valley Community College's aviation students, and was recently moved to the program's new hangar.

"Mother Nature has been cooperating. We picked a good day to do it," Jennings said before the move. "Once it's down there and Walt's able to move it inside, then the fun begins; stripping it, painting it, getting it prepped, getting everything done on it that we need it to for the actual mountment at the memorial."

It was pulled about a mile to the new hangar.

This will be a new chapter for the chopper. Jennings said it is an American-made helicopter, which was once active in the Royal Australian Air Force service.

"I believe it was a lot of search and rescue. There was a winch on the side of it for picking up downed pilots in the ocean," he said.

Jennings said the helicopter also carried President Lyndon Johnson's security team when he went to Austrailia.

While in service, the helicopter read A2-390 on the tail, and Jennings said the "390" will be restored as a tribute, but the helicopter will look like a U.S. Navy Seawolf.

The trip to the new hangar went well.

"I'm glad it's here now. One step closer to the restoration actually beginning. Hopefully very very soon it will be inside the hangar," Jennings said.

Then the work will really begin.

"We're gonna redo the transmission, repaint all that, all the stripes will be gone, it will be all one color. Probably be hooking electrical systems up so that the navigation lights can light up at night when it's on the pedestal too," said Mohawk Valley Community College Aviation Programs Director Walter Constantini.

Since the helicopter is from Austrailia, Jennings said the project is getting international attention and support.

He's hoping it will be restored by the summer.