Using the entire Huey helicopter as his canvas, Steve Maloney describes what he did:
As in every war, American soldiers serving in Vietnam most likely remembered and yearned for things they’d left behind back home: their girlfriends, their cars, mom’s good old apple pie, and poker games with their buddies. I approached the tapered tail boom surface of Huey #174 envisioning it almost like an arm tattooed with images – from back home as well as from the war – creating a scene of Hueys in air and soldiers on the ground.
As my composition progressed toward the main cabin area, I selected a listing of the names of helicopter squadrons that served in Vietnam and included their call signs – nicknames replicated in graffiti-like lettering – like Guns-A-Go-Go, Batman, and Black Widows.
I then added a mule pack of duffle bags and an Army footlocker and roped them together on top near the main rotor blade to imply Take Me Home Huey. By including old retro public address speakers on the roof of the Huey I wanted to signify the music of the times while including bright patterned tones of the 60’s & early 70’s on the roof of the helicopter.
It took nearly a year for me to get the composition just right while working closely with my studio assistant Lauren W. Bechelli who masterly illustrated my concepts and designs. Once completed, the art was transferred onto a high formable vinyl wrap and molded around the entire fuselage and tail boom. With the original rivets of the helicopter still visible, from a distance you can hardly see that it is actually a wrap.”
During the restoration process I had asked Light Horse Legacy to completely strip the interior. Painted in light grey the bare interior had no resemblance to the original set up. I took gauges, instruments, metal pieces of the original aircraft and suspended them throughout the interior of the cabin.
This suspended abstract interior sculpture stands for a metaphor for broken and shattered lives as well as the fateful shoot down of Huey #174. To me it is a sacred area, like a heartbeat of the helicopter. Symbolizing an example for heroic missions of all medevacs, the interior cabin, where wounded were transported to safely and the dead were brought home.
The heart of the cabin reveals a custom-made Time Capsule containing personal photographs and letters from soldiers, and donated items from veterans and families collected throughout the traveling tour.
The Time Capsule was fabricated by Time Capsules Inc., and has been filled with memories and tributes like photographs, artifacts and letters from Vietnam Veterans and their family members. I also included a personal letter about this art project, a copy of our Documentary Film, the beautiful Take Me Home Huey Song and anything else that arises in this Huey’s journey from the ashes of war to a colorful ambassador as a healing helicopter.
The Capsule will be sealed on the official installation at the Palm Springs Air Museum this Fall 2019.
It will be opened by sculpture’s conservators on April 30, 2025, the 50th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, the historical date that marked the end of the Vietnam War.
My warmest thank you to everyone who contributes to the Take Me Home Huey Time Capsule. Below you can see a sampling of some of the items curated the Time Capsule.
Selected contributions from the crew and families of Huey #174
Purple Heart by Ralph J. Tutrani, Specialist 5, was the Door Gunner Huey #174. Ralph was shot in the hand during the evacuation of the crew after its fatal shoot down in February 1969, which earned him a purple heart.
Snoopy doll, by Walter McNees, 1st Lieutenant Walter McNees, Pilot of Huey 174, contributed his Snoopy Mascot. Walter said that his young sisters has sent the doll to him for good luck. On most missions, Snoopy was along for the ride and provided a sense of comfort to many of the wounded soldiers they picked up. He wanted Snoopy to continue to watch over Huey174 in her new role as art ambassador.
Carol Hewitt sister of Gary Lynn Dubach contributes an article about her brother from the Star Beacon Newspaper written by Devastasha Beaver. Specialist 4 Gary Lynn Dubach, military occupational specialty 67N20, was the Crew Chief assigned to #174. A native of Ashtabula, Ohio, Gary had been “in country” since June 1968. He is buried at Edgewood Cemetery in Ashtabula.
Selected contributions to the time capsule:
Poem 174 by Mike Ortiz, Sgt. Melquiades Ortiz USMC, a Vietnam veteran and writer, who leads poetry readings as healing for other veterans at the Loma Linda VA Hospital whom he for credits for helping him treat his PTSD.
Prior to his passing, Senator John McCain’s has donated a signed copy of his book “Faith of our Fathers”.