Local VFW post to display piece of history

EVART – Members of the VFW Post 7979 in Evart are working hard to bring nearly a decade of waiting to a successful end.

Members of the post have been granted a UH-1 Huey helicopter used extensively during the Vietnam War, courtesy of an equipment donation program offered by the U.S. Tank and Automotive Command in Warren. They plan to display it outside the post in Evart as a memorial for veterans from the area.

David Brickey has served as the post commander in Evart periodically over the years, and has worked with others at the VFW to help bring a piece of history to the Evart community. Several years ago, he began the search for a piece of used military equipment to be displayed at the post, a practice that is not uncommon at VFW and AMVET posts.

"When I was commander a little over eight years ago, I applied for a piece of military equipment,” Brickey said. “I just recently got an email saying there’s one available to us. Equipment doesn't get brought back from overseas anymore, so it's extremely hard to get one for a display."

VFW member Jim Eaton joined the search for the helicopter about two years ago, bringing new life to Brickey's request, which had been tabled for several years.

"This is an ongoing thing. I just rejoined the post about three years ago, and about two years ago I started trying to get this thing organized,” Eaton said. “I was told we might as well forget about it.”

After finally being referred to TACOM, Eaton and Brickey were able to fill out the proper request forms, and received an email about a month ago that a helicopter in Pennsylvania is available for the post.

Now that their search is over, working to get the piece of equipment to Michigan is the next big hurdle facing the post. Brickey said TACOM requires letters of confirmation at each step of the moving process, from loading the helicopter in Pennsylvania and hauling it to Michigan to unloading it again at its new home.

Finding a company to haul the helicopter is left to the VFW, as well as the cost of transporting it.

"As soon as we can get someone to commit to hauling it for us, we’ll have it," Brickey said. "It has to be someone who has a lowboy trailer. We're hoping we won't have to hire someone. We're hoping some goodhearted person out there will volunteer to haul it for us."

Brickey said hiring a company to transport the helicopter is not possible for such a small post with limited funds.

Once the helicopter makes it safely to Evart, however, VFW members have plans to restore it to its original state. They want it to look similar to how it would have during its use in Vietnam.

Gerald Davis is a retired member of the military and the youngest active member of Post 7979. Having had experience with helicopters and other military equipment in the past, Davis is excited to see the donation make it to Evart and has volunteered his time to help restore it.

"I have kind of a working knowledge of helicopters," he said. "Being an aircraft electrician, knowing something about the helicopter helps out because most of the other guys were from other branches of service.”

More importantly, members of the VFW see the donation as a way to honor many of the area's veterans for their service.

"This is important to our veterans," said Brickey. "The helicopter will bring a nice display to our post and will bring a little pride to our community."