Take Me Home Huey

Take Me Home Huey® is a multi-media project created by artist Steve Maloney consisting of a mixed-media 47-foot-long helicopter sculpture, an Emmy-award-winning documentary film and a powerful  song. Supported by a website with project information as well as educational information about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Taken together, all of the components are a powerful messenger of healing.

The Vietnam War is remembered as “the Helicopter War” for good reason. In particular the Huey helicopter played a pivotal role serving the U.S. Armed Forces as well as bringing thousands back to safety. It’s vertical liftoff and landing made it effective for quickly ferrying field personnel, supplies, wounded and those who died in combat to and from battlefields and bases. Along the way, the Huey’s unique insect-like shape and prominent rotor “whomp whomp” became iconic symbols of a difficult period in our nation’s history.

For these reasons and additionally inspired by the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Vietnam War, initiated by the U.S President Barack Obama and the Department of Defense in 2012, Steve Maloney chose the Huey helicopter as the central element of his Take Me Home Huey® project.

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The mixed-media sculpture is composed of a transformed boneyard Huey helicopter that served as an air ambulance during the Vietnam War. The U.S. Army helicopter was shot down in 1969 during a medical rescue in Vietnam. The crew chief Gary Dubach and the medic Stephen Schumacher died bravely. The serial number of the Huey is 67-17174; the aircraft is commonly known as Huey #174.

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From 2015–2017 Maloney partnered with Arizona non-profit organization, Light Horse Legacy (LHL) with the goal to locate a suitable Huey, restore it for the artist and assist in traveling the Huey art sculpture to exhibitions and events around the country.

The organization’s mission is twofold:  encouraging interest in aviation while promoting the healing of Americans of all conflicts who suffer the effects of PTSD. Light Horse Legacy is an accredited partner in the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Vietnam War.

After locating a suitable boneyard helicopter, LHL and countless volunteers took seven months of tedious crafting work to restore the helicopter fuselage by re-skinning and replacing numerous pieces of sheet metal, replacing parts and windows.

Using the aircraft’s serial number, Dave Barron, Co-founder of LHL, spent months researching through records tracing the history of the aircraft and reuniting surviving crew members and the families of the fallen.

Upon delivery of the restored and painted huey #174, Steve Maloney began its transformation into a colorful piece of art.

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Illustration by Lauren W. Bechelli

Using the helicopter’s main fuselage and tail boom as a canvas, studio assistant Lauren Bechelli masterly illustrated Maloney’s concepts of Vietnam Helicopter Squadron names, along with symbolic 1960’s and 70’s pop culture imagery of icons that many soldiers longed for onto a vinyl wrap that completely covers the exterior of the aircraft.

The exterior composition includes a “mule pack” of soldier’s duffels and public address speakers on the roof.

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For the interior Maloney used suspension of various helicopter parts and instruments that were part of the original aircraft and a custom designed time capsule holding veteran’s artifact and donated collected items.

The completed multi-media project goes deeper to impact all senses.

The documentary film is highlights recollections from boots-on-the-ground veterans of the role Huey helicopters played in the war effort. The powerful song relates to all veterans.

There is no greater desire for active duty soldiers than to complete their tour of duty honorably and return home safely to their loved ones. Though every “war story” is unique and sobering, there is a common understanding to the phrase “Take Me Home Huey”.

Maloney’s artistic goal is to encourage a healing dialogue bridging the gap between soldiers that risk 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.

Take Me Home Huey® is dedicated to the 2,709,918 Americans that served in Vietnam.