“It was kind of a pride thing; I wanted to show these people I could still do this,” said Stuart Cline, Vietnam War veteran.
From August 1968 to August 1969 Cline spent time as part of the B Company 227 Assault Helicopter Battalion (AHB). During that year, he accumulated over 950 hours of fly time.
“We flew mostly troop insertion and extraction and then resupply. Sometimes we would fly hot food out to a small location,” he said. “Did some medivac, that wasn’t our primary thing but if you dropped supplies off and someone was injured or shot, then you would take them out.”
Cline said as a Huey pilot, he had to overcome a fear of getting shot down.
“At night you’d say “God I hope I don’t get shot down tomorrow,”’ he said. “You could see tracers coming at you and you’d have to say, you don’t have the option to say, ‘Well I’m not going to go here.’ We took 17 rounds in three days in different parts of the aircraft. Then they call you ‘magnet you-know-what.’”
Thankfully, Cline was never shot down, but that doesn’t mean he was always safe. He was hit by a mortar round during one mission.
“I looked at my arm and it was all bloody and I ran behind a mound of dirty and the funny thing is, if you want to say funny is that, I couldn’t move my wrist hardly at all. I’m lying there and I said, ‘I can’t shift my car.'”
Cline didn’t think he would get to see his old friend again. That was, until he tracked it to a small aviation company, called Haverfield Aviation in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, who agreed to let him see it. He made a trip to visit his brother in Delaware and then to Pennsylvania to see his, “old bird”.
“They got the helicopter out,” he said. “It’s painted that color and has all the modifications done to it that you can do to an old bird like that.”
Haverfield took the meeting a step further. They let Stu fly it once again for about an hour.
“It was amazing,” Cline said. “Everyone always said, ‘Stu do you still think you can fly that?’ I said, ‘Yeah, it’s like a bicycle I think.’ The crew chief in the back said ‘Hey, this guy is still a good stick!’”
Cline went on to say getting to see the Huey again was a blessing 50 years in the making.
“The great thing was I was sitting there like, ‘man, I’m flying this thing, and this is 50 years after I flew this.’”