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Vietnam War helicopter touches down at Iowa Aviation Museum

The UH-34D Sikorsky helicopter was shot 54 times during combat missions in Vietnam.

GREENFIELD, Iowa — The Iowa Aviation Museum is home to decades of flight history in the state, so its no stranger to planes and pilots alike. But its newest guest was a bit more unusual — an angel came to visit Saturday. 

The "angel" is a UH-34D Sikorsky helicopter that flew in the Vietnam War. After decades, the helicopter made a trip from Vietnam to an airstrip in Greenfield, Iowa.

"This is basically the Marine Corps assault support aircraft. They used it for what we affectionately call hauling beans, bullets and Band-Aids," said Nick Turney, a former pilot who has flown the helicopter model before.

The particular helicopter that visited Iowa flew in several combat missions in Vietnam as part of the so-called Ugly Angel squadron. It still has a few scars from the battle damage it took over the years. 

Turner said the vehicle was shot a total of 54 times during service. After retiring, the helicopter was repaired, and now it travels the country, helping Americans connect with history.

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"Good men and women put themselves in the face of danger so we can have the freedoms and liberties that we that we have every day," Turner said. "This is a way to try and hopefully close that gap."

By the chopper's door, there's a plaque displaying the names of 33 members of the Ugly Angels who died while serving in Vietnam. One of the unit's survivors, Iowan Phillip Turner, was present for today's visit. 

Nick, his son, followed in his father's footsteps when he decided to join the Marines.

"My dad was a Marine. He got to fly this thing in combat," Turner said.
"I've been able to fly it. There's very few people that can say they flew an aircraft that their dad flew in Vietnam. So it's a pretty special thing for me."

After its visit, the UH-34D will be refueling and then heading down to Inola, Oklahoma, where the helicopter is stored when it's not being shown.

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