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Monday, June 8, 2009

Huey lands at Maxwell

A story that didn't make the Sunday paper, so special to the blog!

A UH-1H Huey landed at Maxwell last week and it had a special connection to the Gathering of Eagles.

The Huey was one that flew in Bruce Crandall’s unit.

The retired lieutenant colonel is best remembered for his role in the battle in the Ia Drang Valley of Vietnam, as dramatized in the movie, “We Were Soldiers.”

Patty Meek was one of the volunteer pilots that brought the Huey to Maxwell. It’s a part of the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation, which refurbishes Army aircraft and uses them as a mobile museum.

“We’re trying to reconnect people with the aircraft of the past,” she said.

Many veterans wounded in combat were rescued by Hueys, she said, and seeing them again, outside of combat, helps close that door.

“Sometimes combat is the hardest thing to recover from,” she said. “This time when they come off, their families are there.”

The flying museum also helps civilians get a better idea of aviation and what it was like during combat and other veterans that were never on a Huey.

Crandall came out to see the Huey and told stories about it. He explained how they had to change the seating configurations during Ia Drang to evacuate more wounded.

The Huey is based in Ozark with the Wiregrass chapter of the foundation.

In July, Fort Rucker is having a celebration and the foundation will offer flights on the Huey. Donations from the flights help keep the aircraft operable, Meek said. For more information, go to or


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I grew up in the military. Mom was an Air Force nurse for a few years, dad was a navigator on B-52s, among other things. One grandfather served in World War II, uncle is retired Navy, other grandfather and great-uncle served in Korea and a cousin is currently serving in the Marine Corps. Currently, I'm the military reporter for the Great Falls Tribune in Montana. Previously, 

As a military kids, we moved all over. As an adult, I've traveled all over and moved for work. But now, I'm putting down roots in Montana with my boyfriend. We just bought a house and are slowly but surely making it our home. We have more land that we know what to do with at the moment. Now we're getting a garden started, tearing down walls and having loads of fun at what we call the Homestead.

In a part life, I did PR for the guy who built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall, social media for the National Museum of Health and Medicine, before that, edited two military technology magazines for a publishing group in the DC area and before that, I was the military reporter (among other things) at the Montgomery Advertiser, covering Maxwell Air Force Base, the Alabama National Guard, veterans and anything else military related in the area. And in between all of that, I leave town, preferably the country, whenever possible. It all started when I spent a semester in New Zealand.

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