Courtesy of the Wisconsin National Guard
WEST BEND, Wis., (5/1/09) -- After more than 38 years of faithful service to the state of Wisconsin, the National Guard's well-known Huey helicopter will perform its last flight May 3.
Wisconsin Army Guard aviators past and present will honor the tough and versatile Bell UH-1 Iroquois helicopter - better known as "Huey" - with an open house followed by a ceremony here at Army Aviation Support Facility.
The aircraft type first saw service in the U.S. Army almost 50 years ago, in June 1959, and came to the Wisconsin National Guard in 1970.
"Huey did for helicopters what the DC-3 did for airlines. Huey absolutely changed our Army," said retired Brig. Gen. Kerry Denson in a 2006 interview.
Denson, who flew Hueys in Vietnam combat missions, will be the featured speaker at the brief ceremony.
Originally designed to fill the Army's need for a more robust medical evacuation helicopter, the Huey proved so reliable and versatile that it was adopted for many other roles in logistics and combat.
Bell Aircraft Corporation eventually produced more than 16,000 of them, plus thousands more of Huey's civilian counterpart, Model 204.
The last UH-1 Huey helicopters in the Wisconsin Guard's inventory were used by West Bend's 832nd Medical Company for the aircraft's original mission - medevac. They have been phased out in favor of a newer all-purpose helicopter, the UH-60 Black Hawk.
The unit's first Black Hawk went into service in May 2008 and the last three of nine aircraft are expected by July 2009; the last of its Hueys will permanently depart West Bend, carrying Wisconsin National Guard officials back to Madison, at the end of the ceremony.
Honored guests, besides Denson, will include U.S. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr.; Brig. Gen. Don Dunbar, the adjutant general of Wisconsin; and Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, assistant adjutant general for the Wisconsin Army National Guard.