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Vets Piece Together Vietnam War Helicopter

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An undated file photo shows a UH-1 Huey helicopter take off while on a training flight. (credit: Getty Images)

An undated file photo shows a UH-1 Huey helicopter take off while on a training flight. (credit: Getty Images)

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By James Schugel, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Remember putting together Lego cars, castles and more? Some local war veterans have their own project like that, but on a much bigger scale.

They’re actually taking taken dozens of pieces of an old war helicopter and putting them back together again.

The full size Huey helicopter made by Bell UH-1 in 1968 was flown with the 765th Transportation Battalion in 1968 during the Vietnam War.

“I volunteered and came down and I’m absolutely thrilled. I’m excited as can be to represent Vietnam veterans working on this,” said Darryl LeMire, a Vietnam veteran himself who knows what the old Huey should look like.

The goal of war veterans and volunteers is to get this helicopter ready for a trip to museums across the country, starting at the Minnesota History Center in the fall of 2011.

It was sitting at a warehouse in Washington State before Jay Erickson with the Minnesota History Center acquired it.

“It actually came as a whole pile of pieces. It came on a truck as a fuselage and as a whole pile of parts right along with it,” said Erickson.

Once assembled, the veterans will actually tear it down again, piece by piece, so it can be moved across the country.

“(It’s) a chance for a lot of people that experienced Vietnam — whether it was mom at home, or a helicopter pilot in Vietnam — to look at that and remember what they did,” Erickson said.

Erickson would like to talk with someone who flew that helicopter, which has a serial number of 66-1008. You can reach him through the Minnesota History Center.

WCCO-TV’s James Schugel Reports

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