ROME, N.Y. --- Over one hundred motorcycles escorted a Vietnam Era Huey helicopter onto Griffiss Technology Park. The aircraft was purchased by the Vietnam Memorial Fund to be displayed at the Vietnam Memorial in Rome.
The aircraft was bought for $35,000 from a private owner in Missouri. It was then transported by truck over 1,000 miles to its final destination in Rome. Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Coordinator Mark Jennings said this delivery has been over a year in the making.
"This has been an ongoing acquisition for a little over a year now. Ever since we dedicated our memorial in May of 2019. We've had a dream of putting a helicopter at a memorial location," said Jennings.
Soon that dream will become a reality. The students at the MVCC Aviation program located on Griffiss will refurbish the helicopter. Program Director Walt Constantini said he's looking forward to beginning the project.
"I think it's awesome. For the class, it's nice that we can use it for instruction, and its something that will be on display so that the whole general public can see the end result and all the effort they put into it. Just the fact that it's representing the Vietnam era is pretty cool too," said Constantini.
The aircraft was delivered with a majority of the parts that are needed including the large rotor blades that go on top. Constantini said he expects the project to take several months.
"We will spend months on it. It's in better shape than I thought it was going to be so it won't be as big of a project as I thought," said Constantini.
When its completed Vietnam Memorial President Richard Falcone expects it to be quite the site.
"Oh, its gonna look awesome. MVCC is going to totally restore it for us. It's going to be put back as a Navy Vietnam Seawolf Gunship. We've already got rocket pods made for it we've got mini guns made for it. So yea its going to look awesome," said Falcone.
Members of the Vietnam Memorial Fund expect the entire display to be complete by Memorial Day 2021.
The organization is looking for donations. Members said they were hit hard by the virus and needs more funding to continue the project and maintain the existing memorial. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation, organizers ask that you mail a check to fund's office at 210 Elm Street Rome N.Y 13440.