Sculpture

Huey #174 

Inspired by the official 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Vietnam War contemporary artist Steve Maloney completed the Take Me Home Huey® sculpture in 2014. 

His artistic goal is to encourage a healing dialogue, one that bridges the gap between soldiers that who risked their lives for their country and society back home. The Take Me Home Huey® project was created to honor Vietnam Veterans and to bring awareness to challenges with PTSD.

At the heart of the project is a 47-foot Huey medevac, shot down in Vietnam on Valentine’s Day, 1969, and transformed into a colorful ambassador. 

After visiting 29 sites around the country from 2015-17, the Take Me Home Huey® sculpture is now on permanent exhibit at the  Palm Springs Air Museum in Palm Springs, California. 

Beginning

Once the idea was born to create a sculpture to honor Vietnam veterans, artist Steve Maloney needed a canvas. 

He chose the Huey helicopter, an iconic symbol of the war, that every soldier of the Vietnam era would know, and would likely have come into contact with during his service. 

Artist Steve Maloney pushing the Huey
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The decision to use the iconic Huey helicopter gave Steve the biggest canvas of his life. 

Finding a suitable huey was the first challenge.

He decided to partner with Light Horse Legacy, an Arizona non-profit organization, which located a discarded Huey at a scrapyard in Arizona.

When discovered, the boneyard Huey was a wreck inside and out, with no windows or doors and a detached tail boom. It took the veterans and Sea Cadets of Light Horse Legacy over half a year to restore the helicopter’s fuselage. 

 

Huey’s Evolution

Transformation of Huey #174 into art

Upon delivery of the restored and painted huey#174, artist Steve Maloney began its transformation into a work of art. This process took enormous effort. 

Exterior

He began by combining images and patterns which his studio assistant Lauren Bechelli masterfully illustrated for printing onto a vinyl wrap that would be adhered to the helicopter fuselage and tail boom.

Next, he needed a studio large enough to fit the Huey. The Palm Springs Air Museum stepped in with the loan of an outdoor space, where a team of volunteers erected a pair of military tents, which served as a makeshift studio. From here, Steve used his creative skills to turn the huey into an artistic memorial by applying his designs.

For the helicopter’s main fuselage, he created a camouflage pattern, overlayed with Vietnam helicopter squadron names and unit nicknames that servicemembers would recognize instantly. To Steve, the helicopter’s long tail boom was reminiscent of a soldier’s arm ready for a tattoo. He decided to cover it with images of things from home that soldiers long for, like their 60’s muscle car, their girlfriend and Mom’s apple pie, rendered in 1960s pop-art style.

bare bone Huey ready to be restored
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The journey from boneyard into a work of art.

Explore the exterior

Interior

For the interior, Maloney used suspension of various helicopter parts and instruments that were part of the original aircraft. He intended these to represent the mental and physical trauma experienced by soldiers during the war.

Steve: “ To me the interior cabin 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.”

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Follow along as the artist breaks down his thought process for each section of the aircraft.

Explore the interior

Time capsule

At the heart of the cabin lies a custom-made Take Me Home Huey® time capsule containing personal photographs, letters home and other items donated by veterans and their families during the project’s national tour from 2015-17.

The capsule has been filled with memories and tributes like photographs, artifacts and letters from Vietnam Veterans and their family members. 

The time capsule will be opened at the Palm Springs Air Museum, on April 30, 2025, on the 50th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, the historical date that marked the end of the Vietnam War.

“My warmest thanks to everyone who contributed to the Take Me Home Huey Time Capsule.”

– Steve Maloney

Explore a few selected contributions to the time capsule

Snoopy Doll
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 Huey #174 in her new role as art ambassador.
Faith of My Fathers
Prior to his passing, Senator John McCain donated a signed copy of his book “Faith of our Fathers”.
Purple Heart
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.
items from Lt. Col. R. L. Cunningham
Jeanie Cunningham, TMHH songwriter, adds items from her father, Lt. Col. R.L. Cunningham, who served two tours in Vietnam. His favorite hat, flags and photos of his time in Vietnam.
Articles from the Star Beacon Newspaper
Carol Hewitt holds the article she contributed about her brother, Spec. 4 Gary Lynn Dubach, that run on the front page of the Ashtabula Star Beacon, their hometown paper. Gary Dubach arrived in Vietnam in June 1968. He was the crew chief on Huey #174 and was killed when the helicopter came under fire and was shot down.

History of Huey #174

Designated HU-1 until 1962, and immediately nicknamed ‘Huey,’ the Bell UH-1 Iroquois was the first turboshaft-powered helicopter to enter large-scale production. About 7,000 hueys served in the Vietnam War, as troop transporters (slicks), for close air support (gunships) and for medical evacuation of the wounded (medevacs/ dustoffs).

The Huey helicopter that became the Take Me Home Huey® sculpture had the serial number 67-17174. We call it Huey #174. 

Wounded soldier taken to the medic chopper

Hueys saved many lives during the Vietnam war.

Using the aircraft’s serial number, Dave Barron (Light Horse Legacy) spent months researching through records tracing the history of the aircraft and ultimately finding the surviving crew members. He learned that in late 1968, Huey #174 was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), in South Vietnam, where it served as a slick, before it was transferred in February 1969, to the 1st Cav’s 15th Medical Battalion.

15th Medical Battalion medevac crews consisted of a pilot, aircraft commander, medic, crew chief and a door gunner. Unlike most in the Army, 1st Cavalry medevacs carried two machine guns, as they were expected to provide air support to ground troops when needed.

 

In Vietnam, medevacs were among the most dangerous missions, often flying into the heart of the battle. While attempting a medevac on Valentine’s Day, 1969, Huey #174 was shot down, killing two of the crew: Gary L. Dubach, the crew chief, and the medic Stephen Schumacher.

During its 30 years of service, Huey #174 served U.S. Army units in the United States, Thailand, Vietnam, and South Korea.

View the complete history of Huey #174 in the timeline.

Click on the image to see the timeline

The National Tour

From 2015 to 2017, Take Me Home Huey® traveled to 29 prominent venues in 13 states, including major art and history museums, as well as places of honor for veterans. Hundreds of thousands from all over the world viewed this colorful ambassador and took in its powerful message of healing.

Map of Take Me Home Huey® Exhibitions

Highlights of the Huey #174‘s national tour include: 

  • June 2015: the artwork became part of the“Innovations in Flight” exhibition at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA
  • June 2016: Take Me Home Huey® enjoyed a weeklong exhibition at the Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, MI
  • November 11, 2016: Steve, Jeanie Cunningham (the composer) and veterans who served aboard Huey #174 rode in America’s Parade, the New York City Veterans‘ Day Parade, the largest celebration of veterans in the country.
  • November 2017: Take Me Home Huey® was exhibited at the NASNI Centennial Celebration at the Naval Air Station North Island (NASNI) in Coronado, CA. 

Veterans, especially those from Vietnam, were immediately drawn to the familiar shape of a Huey and were encouraged to touch the aircraft. A performance of the song by composer Jeanie Cunningham and a screening of the Take Me Home Huey film often accompanied the exhibit. 

Working together, the projects various elements excite all the senses: sight, touch, sound and even smell. 

Local veterans’ organizations were on hand at many venues to provide information about local services, including help for those with PTSD. 

Veteran getting together around the Take Me Home Huey Sculpture
Huey is touring country

Our traveling exhibition would not have been possible without the gracious support of the cities, venues, and especially local veterans’ organizations. 

Huey #174 has now found a permanent home at the Palm Springs Air Museum, where it is on exhibit.

We anticipate celebrating Take Me Home Huey events in the future at the museum and taking the film and book to events around the country.

Veterans react

When he began the Take Me Home Huey sculpture, Steve Maloney set out to thanks and honor veterans. He had never created a commemorative artwork before. But once the sculpture left his studio, it took on a whole new life. It was made much more meaningful because of the veterans’ reactions to it. No artist could ask for a better reception. 

Portrait of a Vietnam War Veteran
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Feedback from Veterans

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