Face of Defense
Face of Defense: Marine Helicopter Restoration
By Marine Corps Cpl. John Suleski,
Marine Corps Air Station New River.
Marine Corps Air Station New River, North-Carolina – (USMC)
– August 16, 2013 – Throughout the ages many works of art have depicted
victories and scenes of valor in the face of danger and almost-certain death.
Marines of Marine Aviation Logistics
Squadron 29 who repainted a UH-34 Seahorse helicopter on display in the aviation
memorial at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., celebrated the completion
of the project during a ceremony on Aug. 6, 2013. The repainting was needed to
keep the helicopter in good condition.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. John
The aviation memorial near the main gate of Marine Corps Air
Station New River joins legions of such art, including mosaics showing the
Battle of Kadesh in Mesopotamia and statues depicting soldiers in the Normandy
invasion of World War II.
One notable difference is that the UH-34 Seahorse helicopter memorial is an
actual aircraft converted into a work of art that immortalizes the service of
the aircraft model and the crews who flew it.
To keep the memorial immortal, Marines of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 29
here repainted the UH-34 to prevent rust and other decay from starting. The
effort that started this May came to a close in an Aug. 6 ceremony at the
Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. James Hutchinson, MALS-29 airframe staff
noncommissioned officer in charge, said the aircraft was painted in the scheme
used on the UH-34 in the 1960s pre-Vietnam era. The only difference is a clear
gloss coat that helps prevent sunlight damage.
The Seahorse started its Marine Corps service in 1955. In 1962, Marine Medium
Helicopter Squadron 362 deployed with the UH-34 to South Vietnam.
The last UH-34 retired in August 1969, when the Marine Corps introduced the
CH-46 Sea Knight. Despite more than 40 years of retirement, memories of the
UH-34 aircraft are still alive among the military veterans who flew them.
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jason Lawrence, MALS-29 airframe mechanic, said veterans
who operated the UH-34 would come by during the restoration, tell their war
stories about the aircraft and thank the maintainers for their efforts.
Lawrence said he developed an attachment to the helicopter.
"It's a great feeling," he said. "It's great to be finally done with it. I can
drive by and say it's looking good now instead of driving by it tomorrow and
seeing it half-stripped and the next day with half-a-coat of paint on it. Now
it's like it's got my name on it."
Lawrence said his mark will still be on the aircraft, even after future
generations repaint it.
Hutchinson said he thought highly of the Marines who worked on the project. Each
put in approximately 240 hours of work into the aircraft. Some of the volunteers
came from other sections in MALS-29, such as ordnance and avionics, so several
hours of the project was on-the-job training.
"I couldn't have asked for a better crew of Marines to not complain about the
heat or the weather and just absolutely put 100-percent heart and love for the
Marine Corps, the history of the aircraft, and those that came before us,"
"This is what 'Semper Fi' stands for," he added.
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