Vietnam War rescue helicopter restored in Ohio
Historic HH-3 “Jolly Green” undergoing restoration work at the National Museum of the
U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force Photos)
DAYTON, Ohio – A military helicopter used to rescue 27 U.S. airmen during the Vietnam War is being restored by an Ohio museum, which plans to display it.
The National Museum of the United States Air Force is currently performing a detailed restoration of a historic Sikorsky HH-3 “Jolly Green Giant” rescue helicopter. The HH-3 has been in museum storage with the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group located at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., and was recently transported to the museum’s restoration facility where work immediately started. It will be one of the featured new exhibits in the museum’s revitalized and expanded Southeast Asia War Gallery.
The HH-3 “Jolly Green Giant” selected for display has both a distinguished combat history, which will showcase the missions and achievements of Air Force search and rescue teams during the war in Southeast Asia. The “Jolly” is tail number 67-14709, which served in combat for 32 months with the 37th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron at DaNang Air Base, South Vietnam. During this time crewman assigned to ’709 were awarded one Air Force Cross and 14 Silver Stars for heroism. ’709 crews were also credited with the rescue of 27 American airmen during the war.
After the war, ’709 was attached to rescue units at Osan Air Base, Korea, where it continued to be a part of notable achievements. While assigned to the 33rd Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, the crew of ’709 was credited with the night time saving of 28 Taiwanese sailors from a sinking ship in the Yellow Sea. For this action in 1979, the crew was awarded the prestigious MacKay Trophy.
“When the rescue squadrons received the big ‘Jolly Green Giants’ in Southeast Asia, their capabilities to save American Airmen were dramatically improved,” said Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Charles D. Metcalf, museum director. “Their feats of airmanship and heroism using the HH-3 are legendary and the ‘Jolly Green Giants’ have become an integral part of our Air Force history. We look forward to being able to expand our presentation of the rescue story with this aircraft and these stories.”
’709 was transported to the museum in August 2010, and restoration work is being accomplished by museum staff members and volunteers. The restoration work has been augmented by skilled maintenance crews provided by the Air Force Special Operations Command from Hurlburt Field, Fla. A number of original aircraft crewmen have provided technical guidance, including flight engineer and Air Force Cross recipient from 1968, retired Chief Master Sgt. Dennis Richardson.
The HH-3 is expected to be rolled out and placed on display in the Southeast Asia War Gallery after restoration has been completed in December.
The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located on Springfield Street, six miles northeast of downtown Dayton. It is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day). Admission and parking are free.
For more information about the museum, visit www.nationalmuseum.af.mil or call 937-255-3286.
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