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Fort to move vintage helicopter to main gate for ‘Army historic feel’

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DVIDS
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The Oct. 27, 2016 issue of the Alaska Post, Fort Wainwright's weekly newspaper, reports on the old UH-1 Huey being moved to another site at Ladd Army Airfield. Post officials announced this week that they will move the helicopter back to an area near the main gate, where it sat for years back in the 1990s.

Fort Wainwright personnel will move an historic UH-1 Huey helicopter from the airfield to the post’s Main Gate Thursday, where it will serve as a symbol of the Army and Army aviation.

Fort Wainwright officials want to move the UH-1 Huey from its perch at Ladd Army Airfield to the Main Gate as a sort of tribute to the post and service it’s a part of.

“It is a nice feature that adds a more Army historic feel to the gate area,” says post spokesperson Eve Baker.

She says post officials also want to follow the example of many other Army installations that park vintage military hardware near their main entrances, like the two tanks outside of Fort Greely’s Main Gate.

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Eve Baker / Fort Wainwright Public Affairs Office
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The old UH-1 Huey will be moved from an area near the Flight Simulation Building at Ladd Field to a spot near the main gate on Thursday.

“So we’re trying to do that up here, to increase the team spirit, so to speak, as people come on to base to work,” Baker said in an interview Tuesday. “They see military equipment and they know they’re going to work for the Army and serving the United States.”

Baker says folks who’ve been around Fairbanks for a while may recognize the Huey, because it had sat in that area back in the 1990s before post officials moved it 15 years ago.

“It was in 2007 that it was moved on-post, near the headquarters building, before being relocating over to the airfield,” she said. “And now it’s coming back to the front gate.”

The Bell UH-1 Iroquois, popularly known as the UH-1 Huey, earned a reputation as a rugged workhorse during the Vietnam conflict, especially for airborne assault, medevac and transport. Bell Helicopter built more than 16,000 Hueys, which the Army initially designated as the HU-1. That’s where aviators came up with the nickname Huey, which stuck even after the chopper was re-designated the UH-1.

The Army flew Hueys for 42 years before they were retired six years ago, but many refurbished UH-1s are still flying for governmental agencies and commercial aviation companies.

The Sikorski UH-60 Blackhawk and variants replaced the Hueys. And now, UH-60s flying in and out of Ladd field are a common sight in the skies above Fairbanks.

Tim Ellis has been working as a KUAC reporter/producer since 2010. He has more than 30 years experience in broadcast, print and online journalism.