Restored Vietnam War helicopter in spotlight on Veteran’s Day

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - All over the Tennessee Valley, folks took time Tuesday to recognize those who served our country.

Another key player in our nation's history got some time in the spotlight though, thanks to the hard work of some Vietnam veterans.

The Widow Maker, Buccaneer-3 helicopter used from 1968 to 1972 in the Vietnam War, spends the month of November making its rounds to various Veterans Day events.

Tuesday it was on display for the public in front of the Schnitzel Ranch following its fourth appearance in the Huntsville Veterans Day Parade.

Not that long ago though, the Widow Maker was in disarray.

After the Vietnam War, the Army designated the Buc-3 as a target aircraft. Following its two tests, the helicopter sat on Redstone Arsenal unused for nearly two decades until it was given to the Veterans Memorial Museum.

Then the North Alabama Chapter Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association (NAVHPA)stepped in to restore it.

"Some of our members came by and said 'you know, we could restore that aircraft and give it the dignity that it deserves,' because it is a war hero," said NAVHPA President Les Haas.

After two years of work, the aircraft was restored to display status.

Now the Buc-3 makes appearances at patriotic events and educational programs.

Haas calls is a labor of love that his 60-member veteran group is proud to show off.

"It just tugs at your heart strings, you know. It's so great for us to be able to bring the helicopter out there. It's like, God Bless America, it can't get any better."