Vietnam Vet Discovers His Old Helicopter at Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Raydean Patterson served in the Army during the Vietnam War in the mid-1960's as a helicopter pilot.
Recently, Raydean was visiting the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly when he noticed something he was more than familiar with.
“When we came around to [the Huey], there was this real big plaque. I read it and it said it came from the 118th aviation company,” Patterson told Reston Now. “Then, I said ‘I was in that company’ and I looked at the tail and there it was.”
It turns out, the Huey sitting in the Smithsonian display is the exact helicopter that Raydean flew all those years ago.
“I was there for like six months, so if it was there, I flew it,” Patterson said. “We didn’t change planes too often, unless they’re a heap of a pile of nothing…and this was in pretty good shape.”
Patterson served two tours as a pilot during the war, lasting about nine months. During his second tour, he was wounded in his leg.
Here's what Raydean Patterson Had To Say:
“Every morning or overnight when I would go out…I had this little diddy I’d say, ‘God, let me get through this one more time,'” Patterson told Reston Now. “Then, coming back, I’d say a bunch of thanks to God…We had a little help from above.”
He had a good reaction to seeing the huey where he saw some of the scariest things he's probably seen in his lifetime.
“I had a warm feeling for that piece of metal,” he said. “I liked flying it, though I didn’t like those guys shooting at us.”
He told the Reston Now he wanted to take it out one last time.
“I wanted to go over there and crank the thing up and go take it for a ride.”
Read more at Reston Now