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Marine Helicopter Restoration Recalls Memories

By Marine Corps Cpl. John Suleski

Throughout the ages many works of art have depicted victories and scenes of valor in the face of danger and almost-certain death.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
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 Suleski
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

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 memorial.

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,” Hutchinson said.

“This is what ‘Semper Fi’ stands for,” he added.

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About Edited by Susan Bainbridge

At age 6, Susan was destined to be a journalist and photographer.  In 1980, Susan founded Bainbridge News and The Bainbridge Chronicle Newspaper. Bainbridge News specializes in Military and National Politics, including Military Funerals and Burials and Political Funerals and Burials.  Susan has covered the White House, the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. She has covered every president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama. Recognized for her versatility, Susan has also covered finance, crime, civil rights events, marches, sports, musical events and more. In 1990, she established Bainbridge Photography, an On-Location photography company. In addition to military and political events, including Military and Political funerals and burials, Bainbridge Photography expanded into covering ALL funerals and burials, receptions, weddings, real estate, inventory, insurance, portrait, head shot, pets, fire and Hazmat.  Miss Bainbridge believes in going the extra mile. "My Clients always come first." In 1980, Susan began her career in Washington, D.C., working for WMZQ Radio as a reporter and guest hostess from 1980 to 1985. Intrigued by radio, Susan wanted to write, freelancing for radio, television and print newspapers, including AP, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Northern Virginia Sun, The Press-Republican and The Bainbridge Chronicle (established by Susan Bainbridge). In 1986, Susan worked at WDCA-TV Channel 20 as a guest hostess for "Eye On Washington." From 1990 to 1994, Susan reported and anchored for "The Arlington Weekly News." Additionally, she produced a segment for the G. Gordon Liddy Radio Show. A prolific writer, while in high school in 1977, Bainbridge wrote an episode for NBC's "Little House on The Prairie" entitled "Laura's Best Friend." Though the show's producers did not use the script then, NBC producers encouraged Susan to pursue a writing and journalism career. Susan is a member of the National Press Club, the National Press Photographer's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Susan Bainbridge's recognitions include from former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the late actor Lorne Greene, among many others. BAINBRIDGE NEWS was founded in 1980 by Susan Bainbridge (a sixth generation writer), a third generation journalist, a first generation photographer and a fourth generation entrepreneur. She is the first generation to establish a news business. Bainbridge News is dedicated in honor of Miss Bainbridge's late grandfather and idol, Mark S. Watson (The Baltimore Sun editor and war correspondent from 1920 to his death in 1966).

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